Think Well or Don’t Think

Dear Integral Meditators,

What would happen to your quality of life if you chose to think more carefully about what you think? This weeks article explains a practical method with which you can start to explore this question.

In the spirit of thought-art,


Think Well or Don’t Think

Here’s a mindful game that you can play with yourself. Take a period of time, say between 3-15 minutes. In this time frame your principle object of mindfulness is going to be your thoughts. The rules are that whatever you are thinking about you should either think about it well or simply stop your thinking. To think about something well means:

  • To take a consciously positive perspective on what is going on or
  • To make an objective mental note/observation or
  • To make the thoughts caring, constructive and/or allowing

This morning I did this exercise on the train to work. I was feeling a little emotionally strained and confused, and it would have been quite easy for my train of thought to reflect that emotionality, creating instinctively negative perspectives on my life. Amongst the thoughts that I brought to mind during the exercise were:

  • It is ok to feel emotionally strained, we all do, but I’m not going to allow that strain to create a negative dialogue in my head
  • Objectively speaking my feelings do not reflect many of the aspects of what is happening in my life, which are fundamentally pretty good – I feel fortunate, and things are essentially on track
  • I’m going to choose to adopt a playful and light stance to my present experience, even though part of me feels a bit wounded right now.

So you get the idea, I am just being really conscious about my thoughts, I’m not letting difficult feelings produce a negative inner dialogue, I am expressing disciplined empathy and care for my experience, I am using an objective perspective appropriately. If my thinking is not in any of those categories, then I simply choose not to think, just to be present to each moment and hold it with awareness.
Give it a try, you may be surprised at how quickly being mindful of your thoughts can start to have a real, tangible influence on the quality of your life. You can also try applying the same principles to your conversation with other people to make it an inter-relational mindfulness exercise.

Sculpting your feelings
One thing that this practice also gives us the ability to do is start using our thinking to skillfully sculpt and shape the way we feel. We can start to use our mind as a precision tool that we can use to benevolently shape our raw emotional energy.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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