When you are walking along a path leading into a village, you can practice mindfulness. Walking along a dirt path, surrounded by patches of green grass, if you practice mindfulness you will experience that path, the path leading into the village. You practice by keeping this one thought alive: “I’m walking along the path leading into the village.” Whether it’s sunny or rainy, whether the path is dry or wet, you keep that one thought, but not just repeating it like a machine, over and over again.
Machine thinking is the opposite of mindfulness. If we’re really engaged in mindfulness while walking along the path to the village, then we will consider the act of each step we take as an infinite wonder, and a joy will open our hearts like a flower, enabling us to enter the world of reality.
I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality. People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
Amazingly, it worked. Meditating became so much easier when I observed my thoughts like a detached outsider.
Amazingly, it worked. Meditating became so much easier when I observed my thoughts like a detached outsider. Each morning, I would sit cross-legged with my back against the wall and close my eyes for 10 minutes. Then I’d just observe myself. Every thought that my mind produced – no matter how nerve-wracking or obnoxious – was allowed to make as much noise as it wanted. Instead of trying to control and change these thoughts into peaceful silence, I just watched them do their thing, like they were clouds passing by.
My thoughts weren’t good or bad; they were just thoughts. I didn’t need to make them perfect, or assign them any value. They all received the exact same treatment: detached indifference. When I got bored with them, I’d shift my focus back to the rhythm of my breathing. It was like a relaxing mental workout where there could be no failure.
After two weeks of observing my thoughts for 10 minutes each morning, my mind wasn’t able to scare me. My thoughts only had power when I granted them that authority. The incessant chirping in my brain that freaked me out for months was now background noise.
Sit cross-legged with your back against a wall, or lay down on your back. Set a timer on your phone for 2 minutes. Close your eyes. Practice watching your thoughts as though you’re a detached observer. Alternative: Go on a 10-minute solo run and only pay attention to the rhythm of your breathing (no music allowed!)
Play It Away: A Workaholic's Cure for Anxiety
“We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.
— Charles T. Munger”
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