I remember being in a counselling session in my early twenties and the therapist said, “Shannon observe your thoughts." ... I was like, what’s he talking about? ... But I attempted to grasp what he meant by watching my thoughts, and to my surprise, while I was thinking, there was another part of me (the witness) observing the thoughts.
This is something we naturally do all the time, without thinking too hard about it. But this time it hit me…… My thoughts don’t define me.
What this therapist was teaching me was mindfulness, a skill that slowly but surely transformed my life in so many amazing ways. That’s what makes us different from animals, the complexity of our thinking. We think all day, every day, and we identify with many of these thoughts and because of the fact that we have them so much, we think that they must be true. Thoughts like “I’m not good enough”, “I’m ugly”, “They don’t like me”. This is what our minds do. They repeat thoughts over and over again until we merge with that thought and then operate from that thoughts level of consciousness.
Mindfulness is a life skill that can help create distance between the self and our consuming thought patterns. When we tune in and become mindful of our thoughts, we start to notice some of the crazy stuff our minds come up with; negative put downs of ourselves and others. By becoming mindful, you can start to notice your own mind patterns. For example, where does your mind like to spend time? In the past (on what’s already happened and analysing it) or the future (projecting current feelings onto an event that has not happened and may not even happen).
Our minds naturally love to think about things, both in the past and in the future. What mindfulness does is it brings you back to the present moment. By being present, we live in the moment. The more time we spend in the present moment, the more we will notice changes in our lives and the deeper connection we have with ourselves and with others.
Mindfulness is not about changing the thoughts; it’s about noticing them, acknowledging them and then letting them go. With everything in life, practise makes perfect…