Meditation helps us heal. It’s a healthy, smart thing to do. It eases pain by changing our bodies and by changing how we manage thought. Doctors know that patients who meditate feel less pain, and psychologists know that meditation helps people handle stress better.
I sit down to meditate. I turn off my phone, close the door, light a candle. I sit in silence with my eyes closed, taking slow deep breaths.
So what’s the big deal?
1.“I can watch my thoughts go by. I don’t have to be inside them.”
When we begin to sit in meditation, thoughts crowd in on us. In beginning meditation, the very first thing we learn is that it’s okay to just watch thoughts and release them.
This is new. Since we were babies, we believed that our thoughts were what’s real. In fact, we think that our thoughts are who we are.
Thoughts seem to have us by the throat. But instead we can just release them. It’s as if we are lying at the bottom of a river watching thoughts from a distance. It’s a huge idea. What a relief!
2. “My thoughts are a bigger force in my life than I realized. But I can manage them.”
When we see how tough it is to release thoughts, we comprehend their power. On one hand, it’s a huge relief to know it’s okay to release them. But on the other hand, it’s not easy.
Just seeing thoughts as optional is huge. But sitting and trying to relax without thinking shows us something even bigger: Thought is powerful!
Thoughts push us around. Thoughts are bullies. Certain thoughts are the very worst of our bad habits. “I’ll never be good enough.” “Life’s a bitch and then we die.” “Let’s face it—No one really cares.” “Nobody knows if I’m alive or dead.” Allowing certain thoughts to run unchecked is one way many people abuse themselves. And it’s emotionally unhealthy.
Instead, it’s possible to harness the power of thought. Thoughts can be healthier and more healing.
But first you have to realize how powerful thought is.
A powerful oppressor that we allow to hurt us;
A punishment we use against ourselves and others;
A tool for caring and kindness;
A way to manifest new goodness.
Let’s go back to lying on the bottom of the river, watching as our thoughts float above on the surface. What’s the big deal?
It’s that “I” am not up there being the thoughts. There’s a separate reality that is me, that is NOT thought.
Wow–Another huge insight! There’s more to what’s real than what I think. And this reality, where I am separate from thoughts, is healing, peaceful, and simple. This is the Child of God.
3. “I am not my thoughts. My thoughts are not my identity.”
I see that I am more than my thoughts. No matter what my thoughts are—good or bad—there’s a part of me separate from my thoughts.
More huge growth—My deepest identity is separate from the crazy circus characters of my thoughts. Many of us have thoughts that repeat again and again. Others of us have thoughts we hate so much that we would rather die than have people find out about them.
Meditation soothes that shame because we see that our thoughts are NOT our essence. Thoughts are like clouds that hide the sky. They come and go but they are not the sky itself.
In meditation we learn how to watch the sky instead of the clouds that come and go.
4. “I’m in charge of my thoughts. I am not a victim of my thoughts.”
We can use thought to heal, and this is a wonderful life skill. Once we recognize that thoughts can be bullies, we can step in and take charge.
Here are three traditional ways to use thought for good:
- Visualization: There are thousands of traditional meditations in which we visualize good images. For example, to help someone heal, we can visualize warm bright light soaking into their bodies. For ourselves, we can visualize the safety of a hidden glen or an angel’s protection. Here’s a great link to get started with visualization.
- Affirmations: We can create positive thought patterns to replace the destructive ones. For example, instead of thinking “Bad things always happen to me,” we can tell ourselves, “I am worthy of joy.” For many, this thought itself heals. Here’s a wonderful article on affirmations for healing.
- Guided Meditations: There are thousands of meditations available online in which a teacher uses images to guide us to a healthier truth. For example, there are guided meditations for healing kidney stones or for healing depression. Here are some wonderful guided meditations for anxiety.
5. “I’ve discovered an openness apart from thought.”
After we’ve practiced meditation for a while, we discover a wonderful new reality. We don’t stop thinking—but we’re no longer trapped inside our own thought patterns. We’re comfortable with watching our thoughts from a distance—In fact, we love the relief we get when we sit to meditate.
For many people, this is an opening to God. Many Christians call this spaciousness the “Christ Consciousness.” In this state, it’s easier to feel God’s love and to receive God’s healing.
Thought is not true or false. It just is.
Thought is not who I am. I am a Child of God, no matter what my thoughts.
Thought is not what is real.
What I know is this: God’s love is what is real. It is forever, and it is my essence.
by Jean Gendreau