THOUGHTS AND THINKING. Let’s start understanding the difference in order to take care of our mental health.

We can not control thoughts, whereas thinking it is.  Thinking is a verb, it is an action. It’s something that goes on inside your head, but it’s something you do. Something that you have control over.  Thoughts are like a show on the street you’re walking through. The show is there.  It is inevitable that you see it because it is there but you decide if you stay as a spectator or continue on your way.

Also, if someone shouts at you on the street, imagine they say “How stupid you are!» That’s a thought you can not eliminate.

But if you stop, you paralyse your life by focusing and engaging in an argument with that person, then the action begins: Think.

And you start:  ‘Why do you tell me I look stupid? I do not think I am or look stupid. I can think of a few reasons why I’m not’.  And that’s how the mind machine begins to turn.

When I heard the word “meditation” I made an erroneous association of ‘I have to empty my mind’, I have to leave my mind blank, which I found impossible.   It’s what I learned, what I have been taught and what I understood for years.  However, through exploring different forms of meditation, experiencing it for myself, doing searches, reading articles, going to talks, I realized that it was not about that.

And what a great relief! Because I felt I was unable to meditate.

Finally, I have understood and the following I want to share with you.

Forget about emptying your mind, let that concept go.  Now, let’s continue with the metaphor of being on the street and having someone yell at you «how stupid you are» or anything else. The moment you stop and start dealing with that thought is when you not only feed it but also decide that it exists, which is true.  There is a person in the street yelling at you that you can not erase, but you can continue walking, continue with your life.

Engaging is easy, especially if you have low self-esteem. Say in this case: as a child, you have been told you were ugly, stupid, fat, you were worthless.  Automatically, your mind registers and reviews all the experiences you have had and collects those where you have felt stupid, without meaning, without fitting anywhere. Maybe when a loved one told you, ‘What do you think you are doing ?’. Or at school, you were discriminated because you were different.

Especially when we are suffering for our mental health, or we have some mismatch, we get involved with the person who shouts at us. You answer, you stop and pay attention.   It becomes the centre of your life at that moment.

You can not control the person on the street, but what you can do is to control how you respond, how you react.

We agree that you can not control all the things that your mind screams at you, all your thoughts that pass from one to another at almost the speed of light, or so it seems.

With practice, thinking becomes a reflective reaction of a thought.

Now it can seem very difficult to separate between thinking and thoughts. It might seem that you really have no choice when your mind throws a thought at you and the thinking machine only makes you spin around, obsessing about it and trying to find a solution.

The situation can be transformed to be aware that you can not stop that person who is screaming, you can not do as if it did not exist but you can say ‘Ok, you’re right there, and I still choose to keep walking’. You will not stop to talk, discuss or prove them wrong. Because if you stop, even to breathe by their side, you are reacting to what they are saying, you are thinking. Maybe they will even scream at you more and more things. You are basically growing and feeding them.

What you want to do is to keep walking. Continue living your life.

It is often believed that with meditation we will make the person who shouts on the street disappear. While you meditate you may hear the cars in the street, people talking, your breathing, feel a pain in your body, thoughts running in your mind. You can choose to focus on what you want to experience.

However, being able and recognizing the difference between thinking and thoughts is a skill. And like any skill, it develops with practice by becoming aware of what thoughts appear when you are at social events, when you are alone and when you feel in a specific way.

This will give you freedom. Knowing what to think is the part where you integrate the thoughts and get involved with them. And that the thoughts are part of you.  That they are and will be there. That there is no need to start a fight against them, or that you become friends with them. They are simply there. They are. And you experience that.

I would like to add that once we understand the great difference between thinking and thoughts we still can not always stop the thinking machine. What also happens is that once a thought appears we label it between good and bad. If the label is BAD it seems more obvious to say I am in this unstoppable and infinite wheel that takes me nowhere. On the other hand, if it is labelled as GOOD it seems that nothing happens if I keep thinking and thinking about it, and then we start on the wheel fueling the mind machine.

For example, you have a job interview, which we assume is good.  You’re going to do this because you want to change or upgrade the job you already have. But you start obsessing about whether you are sufficiently prepared.  Insecurities don’t stop arising.  You check your CV a hundred times.  You make sure that the address is the right one and you try to anticipate the questions that will be asked, keeping everything under control as much as you can.

That is also THINKING. That is stopping before the person who shouts at you as much as in the example earlier, even if it does not seem so. Obsessing yourself with any thought is THINKING.

And then realize how much energy, expectations and time you are spending on something that does not need it when there are other things that do need it and they will bring you peace. Peace on all levels.

Meditating is, therefore, a skill. A skill that we work on throughout our lives, since your thoughts are not ever going to rest, your exercise must be constant, and with practice, it will be easier to identify and keep walking.

That is living.


I wish you a good Life, my friend.