Your Thoughts as Emails

Dear Integral Meditators,

This weeks article looks at how we can be more mindful of our thoughts by considering them in the same way that we might consider emails. I hope you enjoy it!

In the spirit of mindful thinking & non-thinking,


Yours Thoughts as Emails

In Taoist philosophy there is a saying that goes that your lifespan can be measured in the number of heartbeats we have each day, the lesson being that you should relax more, let it beat more slowly and therefore live longer!
What if instead we were to measure your lifespan in relation to the number of thoughts you have each day? What if our lifespan in this sense meant not how long we would literally live in terms of physical age, but how long our mind remains active, flexible and fully capable/functional? In this case thinking too much would have the consequence of our mind and intelligence ‘burning out’ due to over use, like a car that breaks down before its time due to the bad driving technique of the owner.
If you thought about your mind in this manner, would it cause you to reconsider the way you think, and the number of thoughts that you give energy too each day?

Your Thoughts as Emails.
This is a simple mindfulness exercise to help us become more aware of our thoughts, and more discerning with regard to the energy we give them. To do it we think of our mind as the inbox in a computer, and our thoughts as emails.

We can divide the daily emails we receive into three parts:

  • Those that are either of no interest to us, or are outright spam
  • Those that are of functional value
  • Those that we derive active pleasure and meaning from receiving

To do this as a mindfulness practice sit still for a while and turn your attention to the ‘inbox of your mind’, with thoughts coming in being like the emails. As you watch the thoughts come in, drop or ‘trash’ the ones that are irrelevant or ‘spam’. The functional thoughts, set to one side temporarily. Try to dwell only upon the thoughts that are meaningful or pleasurable; that enhance your experience of the present moment. If there are no thoughts coming in, then just enjoy having an empty inbox!
Initially you may need to do this in an undistracted space, but after a while you can learn to play it as a game at any time, for example when you are traveling between locations or in between tasks, or walking along the street.
When you are going about your daily tasks you can include the functional thoughts in your mental process as they are obviously necessary for getting things done, but try and keep your spam filter operational; dropping/trashing the thoughts that are garbage, unnecessary, negative and so on.

Here’s to a long life of pleasurably mindful thinking!

© 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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