Categories of Controlling Thoughts

BucketHere are the categories of thoughts that caused me to get lost for a little while:

  • writing blog (30%)
  • my surroundings (22%)
  • something I need to do (22%)
  • something I want to do (17%)
  • past event (9%)

Like I said previously, having an agenda going into meditation is distracting.  Close to a third of the thoughts that took my focus away were related to keeping track of my thoughts, writing down the time and taking note of things to write about in these blog posts.

It is interesting that those type of thoughts happened the most frequently.  I figured that being interrupted by my immediate environment (or at least the prospect of that) would control my thoughts the most.  That is not the case.

I now understand why these mindfulness books I have been reading always emphasize meditating only for mediating’s sake.  Typically, the authors try to put a spiritual spin on it.  They say that the purpose of life is to reach the state that you are in when you achieve perfect mindfulness.  That is a fine thing to believe in if you want to go down that path.  However, I think there is a lot more to life.

I think it is going to be hard to find suggestions on how to balance this mindfulness practice along side the act of tracking thoughts.  The two practices are complete opposites and trying to do both at the same time could be considered impossible.  I don’t think so.

I noticed while practicing that the actual act of writing down my thoughts did not take me out of being mindful all that much.  I could jump back in pretty quickly. The more frequent controlling thoughts were concerning how I would explain the experience in a blog post.  So, in an effort to thwart these thoughts, I am going to only write about the category of thoughts that I have and not the actual practice of mindfulness.  Maybe that will give me an easy dismissal response to the explanatory thoughts that come up.

The second highest category were thoughts about my immediate environment.  Some of these thoughts included:  Should I close the door in case someone walked by?  Where was that noise coming from?   I speculated, attempted to find the causes of things, worried, etc.  These were so high in the list because my immediate environment was the thing I was supposed to be focusing on.  The difference being that I was lost in thought because of distractions that came from my immediate environment instead of being focused on the experience of the moment.

Getting rid of the distractions within my immediate environment should be pretty easy.  I just need to make more effort to control my environment before attempting to meditate.  Most of the books that I have read say that these distractions are the most common but the easiest to control.  Through practice, I will be able to recognize when they cause me to get lost and through practice, I will be able to bring my focus back.

The last three categories are the ones that I am most interested in.  I want to use this data as a way to dive deeper into these thoughts.  Once I figure out a way to get the agenda and environment problems out of the way, I will eventually drop those type of thoughts altogether.  I assume that the future and past thoughts will then raise to the top.  After that happens, then I will break down those thoughts into more specific categories.

Hopefully, this will all lead to my increased understanding of how I think and my increased ability to control my thoughts.

Photo courtesy of longhorndave 

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