Monday, January 31, 2011

Embracing your thoughts and feelings

When you’re familiar with following your breath and expanding your awareness to include sensations, you can expand your awareness even further to include thoughts, images, memories, and feelings. As with sensations, begin by following your breath and then allow yourself to explore a thought or feeling when it becomes so strong that it draws your attention to it. When it no longer predominates in your field of awareness, gently return to your breath.
Of course, if you’ve been meditating for a while, you may have noticed that you’re constantly being carried away by the torrent of thoughts and feelings that flood through your mind. One moment you’re counting or following your breaths or practicing your mantra, the next moment you’re mulling over a conversation you had yesterday or planning tomorrow’s dinner. It’s as though you had inadvertently boarded a boat and suddenly found yourself several miles downstream. When this happens, you simply need to notice that you’ve wandered and immediately return to where you began. Now, however, instead of viewing this dimension of your experience as a distraction, you’re going to include it in your meditation with mindful awareness. When you find your attention wandering off into a thought or feeling, be aware of what you’re experiencing until it loses its intensity; then gently return to your primary focus.

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