Observe. Even the judgment.

O

ne of the biggest “crazy-makers” I’ve found in the mindfulness/spiritual/personal development world is the notion that we must somehow “control our thoughts.”

Whether it be to “let go,” “think only positive thoughts,” or “observe without judgment,” we’re somehow supposed to be able to do that.

But anyone who has spent any amount of time meditating knows that the mind just does what it does.

And it’s a nutty freak show up there.

From random scenes of the past, to clips from movies, to songs on eternal auto-play running in the mental jukebox, to shopping lists, to nonsense syllables, to the current worries du jour, to running commentaries on who you are as a person, to brilliant ideas, to what you like, to what you DON’T like, to stuff you’ve got to buy, to what’s wrong with you, to what’s wrong with THEM, etc.

How are you supposed to have any influence over this runaway train?

Yet, popular belief has it that somehow you’re supposed to “transcend the mind” and be this vast open space of utter nothingness.

Om.

Yeah, good luck!

And so, what happens?

You naturally give up.

You listen to a voice in your head say, “This is too much for you. It’s beyond you. It’s too hard. Why bother?”

Or worse. You listen to a voice say, “Your mind is now empty. No thoughts. Bliss.”

Lol.

What I’ve learned in practice (and it’s the hardest thing to TRULY get), is all you’re doing is observing and paying attention.

That’s IT.

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

You’re not trying to get rid of anything.

You’re not trying to cling to this or get rid of that.

If judgment arises, you pay attention to HOW that happens.

  • What does it say?
  • What influence does it have over your life?
  • What does it feel like when you go along with it?
  • How do you know it’s true?
  • Is this something you believe?
  • Or is it something that just drops in without you having a say in the matter?
  • Does it sound like something someone once told you before?
  • Does the judgment belong to someone else?

Awareness practice becomes so much more interesting and inviting when you bring the spirit of inquiry to it.

A curiosity. A wonder. An innocence.

You’re not trying to control your mind, nor are you trying to manipulate your behavior.

You’re not “good” if you don’t do this, and you’re not bad if you do that.

You simply SEE.

And the irony of simply seeing is you can finally be FREE to choose whatever you want from there.

That’s the power of awareness.
 

In lovingkindness,


If you enjoyed this article, you can find a version of it in my book, Living the Zen Life: Practicing Conscious, Compassionate Awareness (Volume One).

If you enjoyed this article, you can find a version of it in my book, Living the Zen Life: Practicing Conscious, Compassionate Awareness (Volume Two).

If you enjoyed this article, you can find a version of it in my book, Living the Zen Life: Practicing Conscious, Compassionate Awareness (Volume Three).

If you enjoyed this article, you can find a version of it in my book, A Shift to Love: Zen Stories and Lessons by Alex Mill.

If you enjoyed this article, you can find a version of it in my book, Meditation and Reinventing Yourself.

If you enjoyed this article, you can find a version of it in my book, The Zen Life: Spiritual Training for Modern Times.

 


  Alex Mill trained in a Zen monastery for nearly 14 years. He now offers his extensive experience to transform people’s lives and businesses through timeless Zen principles.

Alex is the creator of three, life-changing, 30-day programs: Heart-to-Heart: Compassionate Self-Mentoring, Help Yourself to Change, and Your Practice. He also offers an online Zen meditation workshop entitled, Taming Your Inner Noise.

Alex is the author of seven books on Zen awareness practice, the latest are A Shift to Love: Zen Stories and Lessons and the series, Living the Zen Life: Practicing Conscious, Compassionate Awareness.

If you'd like to learn more about The Zen Life and how to work with Alex, please go here and find out how to get started.