Here are some quotes on meditation (黙想 mokusou) and mindfulness with regards to thoughts and thinking – below. They are organized as follows:
- Gil Fronsdal 1 [Fronsdal_ThoughtsIntro]
- Gil Fronsdal 2 [Fronsdal_Thoughts]
- Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Eckhart Tolle
- Ramana Maharshi
References provided at the end. I’ll likely update this page as I come across more quotes.
A side comment: for those who may wonder how meditation and mindfulness can help them in kendo, martial arts, sports or other areas of life. I certainly wasn’t aware of its value for many years. For example, I believe it can improve one’s performance under potentially challenging events such as a shinsa or shiai. The mind may generate a torrent of thoughts – some related to the four sicknesses (shikai): What if I… fail/lose, look bad, fight a very strong player? I should have… practiced more, slept more, ate less, warmed up more. I am not… strong enough, fast enough and so on.
When unaware of such thoughts and when sucked into thinking such thoughts, one can become tight, anxious, nervous or fearful. Which can lead to poor performance. However, when aware of and able to see such thoughts (and thoughts in general) without identifying with them, I believe that one can remain more calm, centered and ready to perform well. I have found meditation and mindfulness invaluable for shinsa, shiai and many areas in life including relationships and handling setbacks.
Gil Fronsdal 1 [Fronsdal_ThoughtsIntro]
- In mindfulness, we are not stopping thoughts as much as overcoming any preoccupation we have with them.
- Mindfulness is not thinking about things. (It is not “meditating on” some topic, as people often say.) It is a non-discursive observation of our life in all its aspects.
- In those moments when thinking predominates, mindfulness is the clear and silent awareness that we are thinking.
- I found it helpful and relaxing when someone said, “For the purpose of meditation, nothing is particularly worth thinking about.” Thoughts can come and go as they wish, and the meditator does not need to become involved with them. We are not interested in engaging in the content of our thoughts; mindfulness of thinking is simply recognizing we are thinking.
Thoughts are a huge part of our lives. Many of us spend much time inhabiting the cognitive world of stories and ideas.
Mindfulness practice won’t stop the thinking, but it will help prevent us from compulsively following thoughts that have appeared. This will help us become more balanced, so our physical, emotional and cognitive sides all work together as a whole.
Gil Fronsdal 2 [Fronsdal_Thoughts]
So many gems from this talk:
- You can’t stop your thoughts, but you don’t have to necessarily pick them up, get involved in them.
- “Thoughting” is what the mind does, it produces thoughts. You can’t stop the mind from “thoughting”. But thinking is when you get involved in your thought. Then a train of associated thinking goes on, one after the other, you get involved and caught up in that world.
- So what we’re trying to do is let the thoughts come up and just let them go by. It can seem rather impersonal, maybe a little bit uninteresting, or very strange, because some people don’t even know how much they are living in the world of thoughts, and how much they mediate (note: not meditate), or see, or understand their life, through the filter of their thinking.
- They say that fish don’t know, don’t see the water they swim in. Humans don’t see the thinking that they swim in.
- Some of you are probably a victim of your thinking mind, it takes you wherever it wants to go. Partly the reason for that is that some people believe that who they are, is their thinking. Their identity is so closely tied to what they think about, that it’s a completely foreign idea that they should be something different than their thoughts.
- If they stopped thinking, who are they going to be? If you don’t tell yourself stories about who you are, then who are you? It can be a little bit challenging.
- An important part of mindfulness is to really see the phenomenon of thinking. We’re not at war with thinking, we’re not necessarily trying to push it away or say it’s bad. But some of them are painful. We’re trying to see it from the vantage point of the riverbank, as opposed to being in it or on it. From the vantage point of the riverbank, looking at the thinking, we might start noticing things we haven’t noticed before about it. They are different than the content, the ideas, the thoughts or the images.
- Every time you come back from thinking you let go of it and come back to the riverbank. … Those movements are very powerful, they only take a moment, they don’t look so dramatic, but they are actually very big movements of the mind. They are beginning to break old habits.
- People have spent a lifetime of developing a habit of just letting themselves just ride the currents of their thoughts freely without any kind of choice. Just going along.
- No wonder when you sit down and meditate, the mind wanders off in thoughts so easily, because it’s had so much freedom over a lifetime.
- Relearning and breaking the old habits goes relatively fast compared to how much time you spent freely thinking. We expect it to be by tomorrow, but it takes more than a couple of days.
- Every time you notice, “I’m thinking”, every time you let go of thought, is a very meaningful moment, it has tremendous impact on breaking that habit.
- If you’re here and the thinking is there, then you’re free of it to some degree.
- If you are the thinking, you think you are the thought, then you’re not outside of it, you’re not on the riverbank.
- So it’s a very clear cognizance that thinking is going on. Sometimes this is enough for thinking to just evaporate. Part of the reason for that is that in order for thoughts to turn into thinking and persistent thinking, there has to be fuel for them to put energy into them. … In a way, you’re not fueling it anymore, you’re not involved in it anymore. If you’re not involved, it dissipates usually, if it’s relatively mild.
- For the purposes of meditation generally we are almost never interested in the content – in the story which goes with the thinking. We don’t focus on it, this is for other times and places, not for meditation.
- You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
- It is remarkable how liberating it feels to be able to see that your thoughts are just thoughts and that they are not ‘you’ or ‘reality.’
- Most of the time, if you’re not really paying attention, you’re some place else.
- Awareness is not the same as thought. It lies beyond thinking, … Awareness is more like a vessel which can hold and contain our thinking, helping us to see and know our thought as thought rather than getting caught up in them as reality.
- Too much of the education system orients students toward become better thinkers, but there is almost no focus on our capacity to pay attention and cultivate awareness.
- There is a lot of different ways to talk about mindfulness, but what it really means is awareness.
- The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.
- All problems are illusions of the mind.
- Every time you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger. One day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head. This means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it.
- Whenever you step out of the noise of thinking, that is meditation, and a different state of consciousness arises.
- The mental suffering you create is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. The intensity of the suffering depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment.
- To meet everything and everyone through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can offer the universe.
- You have to ask yourself the question “Who am I?” This investigation will lead in the end to the discovery of something within you which is behind the mind. Solve that great problem and you will solve all other problems.
- The question “Who am I?” is not really meant to get an answer, the question “Who am I?” is meant to dissolve the questioner.
- Our identification with the mind and body is the chief reason for our failure to know our self as we truly are.
- If one’s mind has peace, the whole world will appear peaceful.
- Protect yourself…. from your own thoughts.
- Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking
- Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought!
- Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
- You only lose what you cling to.
- Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own thoughts, unguarded.
- Peace comes from within.
- Attachment leads to suffering.
- Remember, when we meet, you are meeting yourself through me. – Fiona Stolze from her reply on her About page dated Sept 10, 2012.
- We are not our thoughts (or You are not your thoughts).
- I had to agree with the Roshi, who then explained that the problem with thinking was not thinking per se, but thinking that was stuck. – Suzuki Roshi from [Brown].
- When we find ourselves constantly worrying or stuck in an eddy of repeating fear, insecurities, doubts and intransigent beliefs about ourselves and others. These thoughts serve to build and maintain chronic body tensions. – Donna Farhi from [Warren]
[Brown] Edward Espe Brown, “Thoughts on Thinking During Meditation, and Why it’s Okay – Knowing what to do with your wandering thoughts is perhaps the greatest challenge for meditators,” YogaJournal.com, Aug 28, 2007.