Quotes on Meditation and Mindfulness – Related to Thoughts and Thinking

Zen Garden with Seven Tiger Cubs, Portland, Oregon.

Here is what has gradually grown into a large collection of quotes on meditation (黙想 mokusou) and mindfulness related to thoughts and thinking from a number of authors below.  They are organized as follows:

  • Gil Fronsdal 1 [Fronsdal_ThoughtsIntro]
  • Gil Fronsdal 2 – from a Talk on “Mindfulness of Thoughts” [Fronsdal_Thoughts]
  • Gil Fronsdal 3 – from a Talk on “Freedom from Thinking” [Fronsdal_Freedom]
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Eckhart Tolle
  • Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn [Williams]
  • Fabrizio Didonna
  • Nancy Colier
  • Peter Cutler
  • Rupert Spira
  • Jeff Foster
  • Sam Harris
  • William Ury
  • Mike McVey
  • Joan Tollifson
  • Cecile Raynor
  • Wim Hof
  • Jill Whalen
  • Sen
  • Michael Taft
  • Haemin Sunim
  • Richard Rohr
  • Morten Tolboll
  • Eric Putkonen
  • Burt Harding
  • Chetan More
  • Bodhipaksa
  • Phakchok Rinpoche on Milarepa
  • Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu
  • Paul Mason
  • Amit
  • Jiddu Krishnamurthi
  • Ramana Maharshi
  • Rumi
  • Milarepa
  • From the Bible
  • Buddha
  • Others

These quotes have been very helpful for me on this journey “back home.”  References provided at the end.  I’ll likely update this page as I come across more quotes.


Update:  Mar 5, 2022:  Added quotes from Cecile Raynor.  Jan 3, 2021:  Added a quote from Wim Hof.  Dec 4, 2020: Added quotes from Rupert Spira.  Nov 30, 2020:  Added quotes from Jill Whalen and Jeff Foster.  Mar. 1, 2020:  Added quotes from Joan Tollifson.  Jan. 9, 2020: Added quotes from Mike McVey.  Dec. 11, 2019:  Added quotes from Richard Rohr.  Nov 2, 2019:  Added quotes from William Ury.  Aug 17, 2019:  After re-reading the quotes below, I noticed how many of them are related to Awareness as discussed in [KendoNotes_Awareness].

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 – from a Talk on “Mindfulness of Thoughts” [Fronsdal_Thoughts]

So many gems from this transcribed 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.

Gil Fronsdal 3 – From a Talk on “Freedom from Thinking” [Fronsdal_Freedom]

Many more gems from this ~38 min. video.

  • [11:03]  Most people live in the layer of discursive thinking (internal conversations, commentary, analyzing, contemplating, reflecting, planning,…).  Wisdom begins to operate when we cannot be caught up in discursive thinking.  Discursive thinking, analyzing, contemplating is an important part of human life.  But eating is an important part of human life.  But you are not expected to be eating all the time. 
    • [11:28] Discursive thinking, contemplating, reflecting is an important part of human life but if that’s all you do, if that’s the only vehicle by which you understand yourself and your life, it’s quite truncated, quite limited.
  • [11:50]  In terms of thinking, one of the first tasks in  mindfulness is to start appreciating the kinds of thinking that are operating from within you and to realize that there are different capacities, ways of thinking, cognizing our experience.
    • [12:02]  In meditation, people can learn how rewarding or satisfying it is to cease all the discursive thinking, to stop all that kind of distracted thoughts, imaginary thoughts, thinking about the future, thinking about the past, figuring things out.  And how peaceful it is to settle down to just a simple recognition note:  there’s a sound, there’s a sound of a car, just a very simple, here’s a thought, here’s an itch.
    • [12:32] And part of the reason it feels so satisfying is that with discursive thinking we tend to get involved with it.  We get involved with it energetically.  We get involved emotionally.  There’s reactions.  The world tends to get more limited and narrow and contracted the more tightly we’re wrapped up around our discursive thoughts.  As we begin to free ourselves from this strong gravitational pull into discursive thinking, the mind tends to have more space, more open and the feeling of spaciousness, openness, ease, peace, of thought just kind of being there without any hook to them.  Just very simple.  A thought arises, an idea arises and memory arises.  But nothing’s done with it.  We don’t pick it up.  We don’t react to it.  We don’t make conclusions about it.  They’re just there.
  • [13:28] And in that simplicity, there’s a lot of ease – much more satisfying.  Also, then we see more clearly actually what’s going on. 
    • So, to want something – to want the red car – to have a thought “I want a red car” and if the next thing you know is that you’re at the car dealer buying a red car and you didn’t see anything in between.  You don’t remember what happened in between. Then the discursive world and this desire kind of took over. 
    • But if you sat there and saw that ‘desiring a red car’ bubble up in the mind and you recognize it:  there’s a thought of desiring, a thought of red cars.  In that simple layer of just recognizing what it is, there can be much more space to leave it alone, to not get involved.
    • And then the wisdom of the mind can operate and there can be a recognition in the mind: “You know, I don’t need to have a red car.  I have a perfectly good car.  I bet the desire for the red car had more to do with not the red car but something else about it.”
  • [14:57]  If we can begin saying, name and see: “Well, that’s what’s happening now.  That’s what’s happening now.  That’s what’s happening now.”  And that’s a hard skill to learn because of the tremendous wave that we pulled into discursive thinking.
    • [15:15]  If you look at your mind churning away in its thoughts and concerns, you can ask yourself: “How much authority are you giving your thoughts?” or “How much authority are they claiming?”  That ‘this’ is important.  ‘This’ is true.   That the place to be with your life energy right now is to be with these thoughts.  “How much do you invest in your thoughts and your discursive thinking and thinking about things?”
    • [15:55]  How much credence do we give to the worry that’s part of the thinking, the fear?  And we really believe that fear and the worry that’s there.  This is a very important issue to look at how we relate to our thinking, our discursive thoughts because there’s some psychologists who think that the some of the leading causes for things like depression, anxiety, despair for many people has to do with the nature of their thinking, the discursive thoughts.
  • [28:03] Meditation is kind of  like a laboratory or gym or something where you learn how to work with your mind.   And then once you’ve learned how to work with it, you can start working with it outside meditation.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

  • 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.

Eckhart Tolle

  • 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.
  • The secret of life is to die before you die and find that there is no death.
  • From [Tolle_HabitThinking]
    • One of the greatest addictions is … the addiction to thinking.  … Can’t stop thinking.  It’s like can’t stop drinking, can’t stop smoking, can’t stop eating, can’t stop thinking.
    • Thinking is the greater addiction than any of these and it’s an addiction because first it’s been a drug that has been around for so long. 
      • And it’s a pseudo sense of self so there’s a great reluctance on the part of most people to let go of thinking because it is equated with the state of sleep to let go of thinking.
    • There isn’t that much to understand in this teaching, 
      • (But) there’s a little bit to understand about how the ego works but even that is just mainly not self observation.
    • The main thing about it is presence and presence is a space of no thought.
      • But presence can also be there in the background even when thinking is happening you can still be not completely involved in the thinking.
      • Thinking loses the ability to create havoc in your life and confuse you.
      • So in your choice then is not to understand more or to bring some intellectual analysis to the practice but to practice the state of not thinking which can be arrived at by various ways as you probably know if you don’t think about it just do it.
      • It’s becoming more aware of the present moment and accept it as it is slows down the overactive mind is one thing because a lot of the over activity of the mind is an attempt to get away from the “is”-ness simplicity of the present moment.

Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn [Williams, Chapter 8]

I found this book and its Chapter 8 on “Seeing Thoughts as Creations of the Mind” very helpful and clear.

  • From the Section “Seeing Thoughts as Thoughts” [Williams, pp. 164-165]
    • As far as thoughts themselves are concerned, through mindfulness we can cultivate a new and very different relationship to them, allowing thoughts simply to be here instead of analyzing them, trying to work out where they came from, or trying to get rid of them in any way.
      • In awareness, we see them immediately for what they actually are:  constructions, mysterious creations of the mind, mental events that may or may not accurately reflect reality.  We come to realize that our thoughts are not facts.  Nor are they really “mine” or “me”.
    • But our task is not only to become more aware of our thoughts, but to become aware of them in a different way, to relate to them from within the being mode of mind.
    • The act of registering in awareness that the mind is wandering involves a shift from being totally absorbed in our thought stream to being detached enough from it to see what has happened.  And each time we gently label our thoughts as “thinking” and intentionally disengage from the thought stream, we reinforce the shift in relationship toward seeing thoughts as thoughts.
  • From the Section “Hearing Our Thoughts” [pp. 165-168]
    • Think of it this way:  the mind is to thoughts as the ear is to sounds.
    • If we think of the mind as the “ear” for our thoughts, then perhaps we can learn to relate to thoughts that arise in the mind in the same that we relate to sounds arriving at the ears.
    • Normally we may not even be aware of the extent to which the mind is “receiving” thoughts until we refine our ability to be aware of them, until we practice intentionally giving them the space to simply be here as they are and to be seen and known for what they are: discrete events in the field of awareness.
    • You might find it helpful to bring awareness to thoughts in the mind in the same way that you would if the thoughts were projected on the screen at the movies — you sit, watching the screen, waiting for a thought or image to arise.  When it does, you attend to it so long as it is there “on the screen,” and then you let it go as it passes away.
  • From the Section “Carried Away by the Thought Stream” [Williams, pp. 168-169]
    • Returning to the movie metaphor, it’s as if the mind has left its seat and gotten sucked into the action up there on the screen, now playing a part in the story that it was mindfully observing the moment before.
    • When you realize that this is happening, all you need to do is acknowledge that the mind had been caught up in the thought stream and that now awareness has been reestablished.  It is helpful to … gently escort the mind back to its seat, back to observing the play of thoughts and feelings.
    • It is important to acknowledge the difficulty of this practice; we are so used to living inside our thoughts rather than attending to them.
    • There is a fine line between taking a friendly interest in our thoughts as mental events and becoming seduced by their content and emotional charge.  We can be virtually bushwhacked and bamboozled by them, drawn imperceptibly into believing that they are true and they are us and we are them. 
  • From the Section “Noticing Self-Critical Commentary” [pp. 169-170]
    • The more we engage in the formal meditation practices, the more we may notice ourselves having reactions to what we are experiencing, judging how well things are going, and criticizing ourselves if we think we’re not feeling what are “supposed to be” feeling or that we are “not very good” at meditating.  Such occasions are wonderful opportunities to remember that judging and criticizing are really just more thinking.
    • With time, we may come to experience an open, spacious quality in our awareness that easily holds whatever is arising in the domain of the mind or body (including any judgmental thoughts) and learn to rest in that awareness itself.
  • From the Section “Beyond Thoughts and Feelings:  Choiceless Awareness” [Williams pp. 177-180]*
    • Up to this point, we have described the practices of mindfulness meditation as they are taught sequentially…: mindfulness of taste; mindfulness of the movements of the breath; mindfulness of body sensations lying down, as we stretch, move, and walk; mindfulness of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings, mindfulness of aversion; mindfulness of sounds; and finally mindfulness of thoughts and emotions. 
      • Each of these practices directs us repeatedly to focus our attention in a specific way on a particular aspect of our experience.  In this way, we are progressively cultivating our capacity to be mindful, to develop the skills that can free us from unhappiness and depression.
    • The next practice unifies all these separate strands of training in mindfulness and reveals them to actually be elements of the one seamless whole.  This is the practice of choiceless awareness.
    • It’s always possible to jump to choiceless awareness at any moment, simply by letting go of any and all objects of attention.  … We rest in awareness itself, without any attempt to direct our attention toward anything other than awareness itself.
    • As we engage in this practice, we may become increasingly aware of the distinction between the objects to which we can direct our attention, if we choose, and the space of awareness in which all our experiences arise.
    • The invitation is to settle into this awareness, to be the knowing, the nonconceptual knowing that pure awareness actually is.

* “Choiceless awareness” seems quite related to 1) “Mushin” as described in Resources on Mushin-no-shin (the Mind of No Mind) and Quotes on Mushin and 2) “Open Monitoring Meditation” described in “Ways to Meditate” under the “Articles” section of Resources on Meditation (黙想 mokusou).

Fabrizio Didonna

From pp. 1-14 (PDF pp.32-45) [Didonna_Handbook]

  • (M)indfulness is actually the way out of the everyday trances we live at the mercy of unconscious, habitual, automatic patterns of conditioning.
    • p.2 (PDF p. 33) Attributed to Stephen Wolinsky Trances People Live, 1991.
  • On Worrying and Ruminating on pp. 9-11 (pp. 40-42):
    • When people worry or ruminate about their problems, even if it seems to them that they are facing the difficulty, they are actually moving further away from a direct perception of the nature of the difficulty. This happens because ruminating always involves making a judgment about the experience.
    • Meditation techniques based on mindfulness work in exactly the opposite direction favoring a “letting-go” attitude toward one’s own thoughts. This is an indispensable skill for people’s psychological and physical health since it helps them avoid getting stuck once again in harmful vicious cycles.
    • The worst damage caused by depressive rumination is the fact that the ruminative thought feeds itself continuously. This process generates thoughts and, therefore, emotions that become more and more intense and far from the actual situation, such that over time it becomes more and more difficult to differentiate reality from one’s judgment of it. For this reason, according to mindfulness, it is extremely important that patients learn how to disidentify themselves from their thoughts. …
    • The possibility to disidentify ourselves from our own thoughts can free us up from one of the strongest and most deeply rooted attachments: the attachment to thinking for the sake of thinking, that is, being dependent on the incessant mental conversation that goes on in our minds.
    • There seems to be a unique fascination with this attachment since we only feel normal when our minds are thinking a lot and since we think that the solution to all of our problems can come solely from thoughts as if we had a sort of blind faith in the presumed magical power of thinking and re-thinking.
    • When we realize that our thoughts are non-concrete and have no substance, that their true nature does not necessarily have anything to do with reality, we have overcome the obstacle of attachment and the possibility that it will degenerate into the negative effects of rumination.
    • The consistent practice of meditation leads to the intentional suspension of every judgment and evaluation we make regarding what happens around us and inside us. This allows us to observe and accept, without wanting to change, the processes of thought and our emotional reactions in all areas of experience.

Nancy Colier

  • From [Colier_WhyMeditate]
    • What changes as a result of meditation is not necessarily the speed and frequency of the thoughts that appear in our inner landscape, but rather our relationship with those thoughts.
      • Through the practice of meditation, we become less identified with the ticker tape that runs through our head, less convinced that our thoughts hold some inherent truth or importance, and less committed to solving each problem/emergency about which our thoughts remind us.
      • You could say that we lose a degree of interest in the monkey mind’s song (or screech). Sometimes the mind quiets as a result of our lack of interest — of our paying it less mind — and sometimes it just screeches louder.
    • What happens as a result of witnessing our own mind (without judgment or commentary) is that, over time, we realize that we are actually not that mind, nor the thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and all else that it spews out.
      • We realize that the mind will happen on its own, generating content, with or without our participation.
      • We realize that who we are, our very identity, is the one who is witnessing all that goes on, that monkeying about.
      • The purpose of meditation is not to change our mind, but to awaken the self that is aware of it!
    • If you take one moment to see what is occurring inside your own mind — without getting involved in its contents, without engaging in the dialogue, just looking — you are doing it right.
    • What happens to you as a result of the observation, therein lies the wild and magnificent adventure!
  • From [Colier_BreakingFree]
    • In truth, thoughts happen – on their own.  We are not in charge of what our thoughts are about.  We are the recipient – the “hearer” of thoughts, the screen upon which they are projected, but certainly not the one doing the thinking.
    • And when not paid attention to, the mosquitos (thoughts) often take off to find someone else to bug.  The same is true for thoughts – without your energy, your juice (in the form of attention) – they lose their power. 
    • You can make use of thoughts, but don’t believe them to be “yours” in some fundamental, identity-defining way.
    • We cannot stop thought but we can stop being interested in thought.
    • The “you” who is hearing the thoughts is the real you.  You are the space within which the thoughts appear (and disappear).
  • From [Colier_Thoughts]
    • There is one physical world here on earth, but billions of different internal worlds.  We are all in our own separate theatres, witnessing entirely different shows,…”
    • What makes a thought feel real is the attention we bring to it.
    • How freeing it is to know that if we do not attend to a thought, answer it, change it, identify with it, and all the rest, it literally ceases to exist. If we let a thought be nothing, then that’s what it will be… nothing.
    • And so the next time that a thought appears before you, within your awareness, remember that it is not real in the sense that it has some solid form or exists somewhere outside of you.  … The thought appears in front of and within only you.  Without the juice of your attention, it simply disappears without a trace.

Peter Cutler

  • From [Cutler_FreedomFromThoughtsSuffering] (Beautiful and liberating to read)
    • The reason I live free of thoughts is not because I no longer think, not because my brain no longer creates thoughts.  It is because I completely understand what thoughts are.  I experience thoughts as thoughts.  I no longer mistake them for reality.  And this is why I live free from thoughts.  And freedom from thoughts is freedom from suffering.
    • If any experience of suffering, no matter how subtle, should arise, I open to it fully without resistance. It always leads back to a thought. In doing this thousands of times over the years with myself and others, this has never failed to happen even once. Sometimes the thought is deeply repressed and unconscious, but without resistance to the feeling, it bubbles to the surface and is set free.  It’s set free because it is always realized as just a thought and, once it is let go, all suffering immediately ceases.
    • This is very important to know. I realize how resistant most of us are to accepting the truth of this. There is very strong conditioning to experience thoughts as more than thoughts, to experience thoughts as reality, as truth, or at least as “my truth”.
    • I have helped many people experience complete freedom from chronic pain … simply by helping them reduce their attachment to certain thoughts. This freedom from pain would be complete and permanent if the conditioning to believe their thoughts was not so powerful that it arose again within a few days of seeing me or sooner.  For some this does happen.  But for most the addiction to and belief in their thoughts is too powerful, so pain returns again along with the belief in their thoughts.  It takes practice for this to be complete.  It’s almost never a one shot deal.  It depends on motivation and readiness more than anything else. …
    • When our addiction is very strong, as it is in most people, we are not yet ready to surrender this addiction. We must hit bottom first. That is the reason for suffering. That is the gift of suffering. It helps us hit bottom. For most of us it is necessary to hit bottom before we are ready to give up such an entrenched and reinforced addiction.
    • … it is possible to be free of addiction to our thoughts.  It begins by understanding what our thoughts really are, not truth, not reality, just a thought, a limited, abstract representation of truth. When we no longer believe our thoughts are truth or an accurate representation of reality, we are in a position to see them as they are.  Just accepting this, we can let them go, let them be what they are, and no longer an obstacle preventing us from experiencing life as it really is.
  • From [Cutler Interview] at 1:53:00
    • Attachment and resistance are the only things that keep us away from this bliss of awakened consciousness.  It’s very simple really.  Rocket science, right?  Whatever we are attached to is going to prevent us from opening to that, from even having it or even seeing it.  And whatever (we are) resisting is the same.
    • One form of meditation is simply to not resist life.   To just accept everything that is happening in this moment.  It’s beautiful.  Just for a moment.  Just everything that is happening in this moment.  Just allow it to be exactly as it is. 
      • If you’re feeling fear in that moment, allow that to be exactly as it is.  Don’t wish it away.  Just experience it.  And that’s how we heal fear.  We totally open to it.  Then it just sort of fades away.
      • But we can’t resist it.  If we go like:  “No fear.  I don’t want to feel any  more fear.  I want to keep fear away.”   We’re going to just keep it as long as we keep doing that.  It’s so funny.  It’s the opposite of what we learned, isn’t it?  It’s the opposite of how we’ve been conditioned.  The truth of life is the opposite of our conditioned world.

Rupert Spira [Spira_HighestMeditation]

  • We normally consider that meditation is some kind of an activity of the mind, a focusing of the mind usually on a mantra or a flame or on the breath or just on the the current situation.  In other words meditation is normally conceived as an activity.
  • What we understand here by meditation is something very different from that.   Meditation is not an activity that is undertaken by the mind.  Meditation here we understand as simply being the presence of awareness.
  • To be awareness, it’s not something that needs to be done … by the mind.  To know ourselves as awareness doesn’t depend on what the mind is doing or what it’s not doing.
    • For instance, right now, you are the one aware of your experience.  You’re aware of these words.  You’re aware of these sights.  You’re aware of your thoughts.  You’re aware of whatever bodily sensations are present.  All these are changing and moving and flowing and and you are there, ever-present, knowing them, more aware of them.

Jeff Foster

  • What is true meditation? Being awake and alive to this one precious present moment…

Sam Harris

  • From the section “Mindfulness” of Chapter 1 of [Harris_WakingUp].
    • It is always now. … But we spend most of our lives forgetting this truth … p. 34.
    • Being mindful is not a matter of *thinking* more clearly about experience; it is the act of *experiencing* more clearly, including the arising of thoughts themselves.  p. 36.
    • Mindfulness is a vivid awareness of whatever is appearing in one’s mind or body – thoughts, sensations, moods – without grasping at the pleasant or recoiling from the unpleasant.
    • The principal enemy of mindfulness – or of any meditative practice – is our deeply conditioned habit of being distracted by thoughts.  The problem is not thoughts themselves but the state of thinking without knowing that we are thinking. p. 36
  • The habit of spending nearly every waking moment lost in thought leaves us at the mercy of whatever our thoughts happen to be. Meditation is a way of breaking this spell.

  • Sam Harris at the 22:57 min mark of [Harris_LookingForSelf]:
    • Most of us spend most our lives feeling like we are the thinker of our thoughts.   Where is this thinker?  Isn’t there only the next thought that arises?   If you look closely you will begin to see that the feeling of being the thinker, the feeling that you are authoring your thoughts or that you’re identical to them – is what it’s like to be thinking without noticing that you’re thinking.  That is the condition of not having seen the arising of thought. … How could any of the appearances be what you are?  You are simply noticing them. They arise in an instant.  They pass away in the next.  How is it that you ever feel identical to this voice that seems to be in your head?  How is it this engine of anxiety and self-criticism keeps turning every hour and day?

William Ury [Ury_Yourself]

Those familiar with the work of William Ury in “negotiation,” might be surprised to see his name here.  However, an important aspect of negotiation, as shown below, is not identifying “with” the thoughts but rather identifying (or being aware of) the thoughts.  So that in potentially tense situations, we do not react with anger and instead stay in a place of calm.

  • This is the point: whenever you feel yourself triggered by a passing thought, emotion, or sensation, you have a simple choice: to identify or get identified.
    • You can observe the thought and “identify” it.  Or you can let yourself get caught up in the thought, in other words, “get identified” with it.
    • Naming helps you identify so that you don’t get identified.  As you observe your passing thoughts, emotions, and sensations, naming them—Oh, that is my old friend Fear; there goes the Inner Critic—neutralizes their effect on you and helps you to maintain your state of balance and calm. p. 18
  • Self-observation is the foundation of self-mastery. p. 19
  • To develop a habit of self-observation, it helps to cultivate your inner scientist. You are the investigator, and the subject of your investigation is yourself. … Approaching your thoughts and feelings with a spirit of inquiry you observe the phenomenon with detachment and an open mind. It requires that you suspend self-judgment to the extent possible. p. 19
  • It is all too easy to judge our thoughts and emotions, to see them as wrong or right, bad or good.  p. 19
  • I find a simple but powerful question to keep asking myself is: “Isn’t that curious?”
    • The question creates distance and opens the way to inquiry rather than judgment. As I have cultivated my own practice of self-observation over the years, I have come increasingly to appreciate the dictum of the Indian philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti: “To observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”
  • One way to train yourself to observe without judgment is to reserve a period of time once a day—it could be as little as five or ten minutes—to sit quietly in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and simply watch your passing thoughts and feelings, almost as if the sky were observing the passing clouds. p. 20

    • If you get caught up in a thought or feeling, or even if a harsh self-judgment shows up, treat it as perfectly fine. Simply notice that you were caught up and go back to observing.
    • The more you engage in this exercise of mindfulness, the easier it becomes. Bit by bit, you familiarize yourself with the workings of your mind.
  • Imagine a glass of water that you have just filled from the faucet. It is full of fizz and you cannot see through it. If you wait a moment and let the water settle, however, the bubbles slowly dissipate and the water turns crystal clear. 
    • That is what we are trying to do here with our minds: to let the fizz settle so we can see clearly what is happening inside ourselves.
    • Before a challenging phone call or meeting, I find benefit in taking even a single minute of silence to myself.
    • One minute alone with my eyes closed helps me to observe my thoughts, feelings, and sensations and to quiet my mind so I can focus better in the conversation.
    • It is an easy technique available to us at any time.
  • Learning to observe yourself is simple, but not easy, particularly in conflicts. With practice, you get better and better. Ideally, the balcony is not just a place to visit from time to time, but rather a home base.
    • In your interactions with others, you can learn to be on the stage enacting the drama while at the same time watching it from the balcony.
    • That takes practice, of course, but the more you can live your life with clarity and calm, the more effectively you will be able to deal with others and to pursue your interests with ease and success.

Mike McVey [McVey_Self-InquiryMechanics]

  • If you meditate at all, if you are reflective, or if you just pay attention to your thoughts or are simply honest with yourself about them, you will see that most of your thoughts arise on their own.
  • …this process is largely automatic. I say largely because it can seem that we ourselves are doing the thinking, but what is really happening when it seems that way is that we are, at most, interacting with our thoughts, or focusing on a particular sequence of thoughts.
  • But the percolation, the rising and falling of thought, occurs on its own.
  • We interact with our thoughts just as we interact with our breath. We can stop the breath, start the breath, control the pace of the breath, but only for so long as we are focused on doing so (or until the body rebels). But the moment we stop, breathing goes back on autopilot. And the same is true with thought.

Joan Tollifson [Tollifson_Meditation]

Beautiful words describing meditation.

  • (Meditation) simply points to ‘being’ Here-Now, being just this moment, exactly as it is.
  • For me, meditation simply means being present to what is: just this! In other words, simply being awake to the sounds of traffic, the sensations in the body, … the aliveness and vibrant present-ness of everything.
  • Meditation also means being aware of the thoughts that pop up and recognizing them as thoughts, without mistaking them for objective and credible reports on reality, and without getting sucked into the content or the storylines they are spinning
    • and if getting sucked in and hypnotized by thought does happen, as it probably will at times, meditation simply means being aware of that—seeing the allure of thought and how quickly and persuasively it creates an imaginary world that seems believable, and how it creates the apparent “me” at the center of that story.
  • Meditation is non-judgmental and not result-oriented. 
    • And if judgments or seeking results should arise, as they may, meditation simply means noticing those movements of the mind without judging the judging or seeking the end of seeking.
    • Nothing is resisted, nothing is sought. Everything is allowed to be as it is.

Cecile Raynor from [Raynor_AT]

  • In essence, meditation is also the practice of non-doing.
  • The ongoing practice of meditation involves going back and forth, to and from a state of deep awareness until the monkey mind surrenders itself and we experience the silence left by the non-thinking mind.
  • The practice is to choose non-doing over and over.
  • The space the monkey mind (a Buddhist term referring to the racing thoughts of the mind) inhabits is where tension is created.  Stepping out of that space while aware of our breath gives excess tension a chance to dissolve on its own. We become available to see the color of the sky, listen to the sound of our heart, or the song of a bird on a branch nearby.
  • This “thought-less” presence within each of us can be called our true nature or our spiritual self. 
    • It is the pure consciousness of the newborn baby before he or she develops a conceptual self through the thinking process and the learning process of the human mind—before the personality is shaped by identification with biological and cultural factors.  Our true nature is unique, pure, natural, and fully-formed at birth; it is not learned, and it is not man-made. 
    • As we grow up, we learn to engage in linear thinking based on the concepts of past, present, and future.  When we obsess about something, we are stuck in circular thinking, tending to go back over and over to a specific point in time. The pure consciousness of our true nature is timeless. Every time we access that part of us through the door of our linear conscious mind, we are in the timeless verticality of the present moment and free of the circular motion of the monkey mind.

Wim Hof

Jill Whalen [Whalen_ObserverThoughts]

I enjoy reading Jill Whalen’s website WhatDidYouDoWithJill.com

  • Most of us live our lives without ever noticing our thoughts. When we don’t know what’s going on in our heads, most of the time we act unconsciously.  We allow our reactive habits and behaviors to take over, and become like robots going through our programmed ways of dealing with life.
  • … (A)t some point the chatter calmed down. It was as if the thoughts couldn’t exist while being watched. (I liken it to shining a light on cockroaches!) … It seemed that I was having fewer thoughts about the thoughts, if that makes sense.
  • I’m no longer a prisoner to my thoughts.  Because they can’t hide from me, I see my thoughts more quickly. This in turn helps me recognize them for what they are–“just thoughts.” Once they’re identified as such, it’s a lot easier for me to not attach meaning to them.
  • The good news is… By shining a constant light on our thoughts, i.e., bringing them into our conscious awareness through observation, we can magically transmute them into nothingness. Which is the ultimate freedom.

Sen [Sen_Judging]

  • Who you are is consciousness, you are not the mind.
    • The mind is like a machine, doing its job. You are the witness of this machine, you can watch it functioning.
    • But when you identify with this machine and make it personal, you start judging the movement of the mind. This creates suffering, because you not only resist the mind’s movement, but you also judge yourself and feel limited about yourself.

Michael Taft

  • [Deconstructing_Meditation]
    • Deconstructing your experience—in the sense of analyzing or seeing through experience—is the essence of the meditative endeavor. Specifically, deconstructing your sensory experience, including the experience of being you, an ego. 
    • Self-talk is a present-time experience of mentally-generated sound (i.e. it is a kind of hearing).
  • [Deconstructing_Self]
    • (M)ost of all my mind was filled with negative self talk. It was like having a person who hated me inside my brain, criticizing, mocking, and attacking me almost constantly. … I tried meditating, … Little by little (over the years since then) this negative, destructive mental self was dissolved, shown to be an imaginary (albeit actually painful) creation, and let go of.  Slowly it was replaced by openness, freedom, and clarity.
    • It would be a tragedy to actually destroy your ego.  Luckily, that is not what we’re trying to do in meditation.  Rather, the goal is to be able to see through (the actual meaning of the word Vipassana) the illusion that the ego is really who you are, and instead to witness it as just another kind of sensory experience.

  • [Deconstructing_HowTo]
    • (T)wo of the most important things you could ever learn about yourself. 
      • One is that the self is a construction, not an entity.
      • And two is that that construction is always changing.

Haemin Sunim from [Haemin_Love]

  • ... I don’t attach too much importance to each thought but pay more attention to the quiet space in between thoughts. … and I come to realize that the silence is the mind’s unshakable true nature as well as the unmanifested ground of the universe before its creation. p. 202.
  • Rather than struggling to stop your thoughts, simply look at what is in front of you.  This brings the mind to the present. p. 204.
  • Breathing is an incredible time machine, bringing our minds from thoughts of the past or the future back to the present moment. p. 205
  • Your true nature is not something you can obtain by searching for it.  It will reveal itself to you when the mind grows quiet. p.206.

Richard Rohr

  • From [Rohr_Illusion]
    • By the age of seven most of us “think we are our thinking” and it’s our thinking that largely defines us. This is the lie that meditation helps us unravel.

Morten Tolboll

  • From [Tolboll_Compass]
    • You have to carry meditation with you out into the everyday life, and if you are used to practise with closed eyes, then there is a tendency to create a contradiction between the meditation-state and the everyday life.

Eric Putkonen

  • From [Putkonen_Surrender]
    • Don’t try to allow…simply cease denying. Cease egoically denying and non-egoic allowing is what remains. Don’t try to accept…simply cease resisting. Cease egoically resisting and non-egoic acceptance is what remains. …
      • Using another analogy, say you are pedaling your bike and riding around. … [D]on’t mean hit the breaks. … I mean just cease pedaling. The bike will slowly come to a halt on its own.  It naturally comes to a stop without effort…when the effort to keep the bike moving ceases.
    • So when I use the term allow or accept, what I am really pointing to is ceasing the effort you are making to resist and deny.
    • So when I say surrender, I mean ceasing to make efforts to manipulate, force, etc. Look at how you are trying to hold on and just cease making that effort.

Burt Harding

  • We suffer so much guilt that we do not love who we are and we keep thinking that there is something wrong with us, that there is something not quite good enough, that I am missing something.  This is not true.  You are complete.  You are complete here and now this very moment. [BurtHarding_Awaken] (Editor: or shame in place of guilt).

Chetan More

  • From [More_MeditationOpenSecret]
    • Alertness between two consecutive thoughts is (a) door to meditation.
    • Sometimes you, as awareness, relax and focus upon yourself for a while without realizing it. This shift of awareness from experience to itself is so subtle that you may fail to recognize it and its significance.
    • By intellectualizing it you may keep beating around the bush.
  • From [More_FloatingOnWater]
    • Learning to meditate is like learning to float on water.  Floating on water and meditation both can be learned but cannot be taught.
  • From [More_HowToMeditate]
    • … during meditation you, as awareness, are travelling within yourself. But this travelling is not a voluntary process. It is involuntary like a relaxed free-fall within you, as awareness. Giving up control is (the) only thing you can do while going deep in meditation.
    • Knowing the knack of meditation is better than depending on techniques.  Knack is mastery.  It is (a) direct approach to meditation. Once learned and recognized, the knack of meditation is never lost.  It is a knack as simple as swimming in water, or riding a bicycle, or learning to whistle by mouth, …
    • Meditation techniques can help you to get glimpses of meditation. Through trial and error you have to find which technique suits you.  No one can tell you that. From those glimpses, the state of meditation can be recognized. You can first practice techniques and then recognize the meditative state or you can first recognize the meditative state and then practice cognizing it repeatedly.


  • From [Bodhipaksa]
    • When meditation brings us to the point where self-talk ceases, the mind is anything but blank. Instead it’s full — full of an awareness of those sensations, feelings, emotions, and images. I like to think of this as one of the meanings of mindfulness – “mind-full-ness,” or the mind being so full that there’s no need for, and no room for, inner self-talk.
    • Our inner self-talk, as well as generating or reinforcing unhelpful emotions, also has the effect of keeping us at a relatively superficial level of our experience. We get so wrapped up in what we’re saying to ourselves inside our heads that we often don’t really notice what’s going on in the heart, the body, or even in the outside world.
    • Meditation is about developing mindfulness, or “mind-full-ness.”

Phakchok Rinpoche on Milarepa

From this article [Phakchok LionDog] which I highly recommend reading

  • Quoting Milarepa (1052-1135 A.D.) [Milarepa_Wildmind]:
    • When you run after your thoughts, you are like a dog chasing a stick: every time a stick is thrown, you run after it.  Instead, be like a lion who, rather than chasing after the stick, turns to face the thrower.  One only throws a stick at a lion once.
  • From “Exercise #2 Using Thoughts and Emotions as an Object”
    • Don’t cling to or try to follow each thought.
      • Just observe.  Whatever arises in the mind, just watch it come and go, lightly, and without grasping.
    • When you do this practice, you don’t need to become like a cat waiting outside a hole for the mouse to show, ready to pounce … on the space between thoughts as soon as it arises.
      • If you practice in that way, you’ll succumb to thoughts such as “Oh, there is the space! I must rest in it,” which means you are filling the space with another thought.  The best way is to rest in the space.
      • Remain spaciously, whether there is any space between thoughts or not.
        • Practice without any goal of finding a space. If a space comes, remain present in the moment. If a thought comes, remain present, observing it. Either way, you are relaxing the clinging.
    • As we practice these exercises and get used to resting in the space between thoughts, there will be no need for a meditation support (for example, focusing on the breath), because we are fully present and aware.
      • That space is usually quite short, but over time we become more and more stable in it.
    • There could still be a subtle problem, though: we may start thinking that thoughts are bad and that we have to enter into a thought-free state to be really meditating. Or perhaps we feel we need a thought so we can look at it and then rest in its dissolution.
      • Of course, when we think like this we are still under the influence of hoping for certain circumstances and fearing not getting them. Although by using thoughts and emotions as support we have begun to turn the mind toward the stone thrower, it is still a little indirect.
    • Like a lion not bothering to look at all the stones but rather turning to look in the direction of the stone thrower, instead of looking at the thoughts we can look at the maker of thoughts—awareness.
    • At that instant of looking toward knowing, you can just let go and rest; let go of being present; or let go of knowing
      • At that moment of letting go, you are in mind’s nature— awareness itself. The nature of mind—awareness—is always available whether there is a thought to be known or not.
      • What does it mean to let go? It means to just let the mind be, however it is. Don’t concern yourself about whether or not you’re noticing the knowing or if there is a natural space. However it is, just allow the mind to be that way.
  • From “Exercise #3 Awareness Meditation”
    • Start with your usual meditation method.
    • After a while, when you have settled into the practice, drop the method and allow yourself to be aware of whatever it is you are aware of.
      • Maybe there is a loud racket outside the door, a fragrant aroma that entered the room, a tickle just under your shoulder blade, or even a rising thought.
    • Now turn your attention inward, toward what is knowing the sound, smell, or sensation.
      • At that moment, let go and rest within the natural space of awareness. Allow awareness to be aware of awareness.
    • At that moment of turning toward knowing and then letting go, you are naturally present, not lost in thinking about thoughts.
      • Awareness itself is free of focus, aware without being aware of something.

Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu [Bhikkhu]

  • …the purpose of meditation is not to bring about a temporary state of peace or calm, but rather to return the mind suffering from worries, stresses and artificial conditioning back to a natural state of genuine and lasting peace and well-being(PDF p.7)
  • Meditation is meant to effect a real change in the way one looks at the world, bringing one’s mind back to its natural state of clarity.  It should allow one to attain true and lasting peace and happiness through being better able to deal with the natural difficulties of life. (PDF p.8)
  • The basic technique of meditation that we use to facilitate this change is the creation of clear awareness. In meditation, we try to create a clear awareness of every experience as it occurs. Without meditating, we tend to immediately judge and react to our experiences as “good”, “bad”, “me”, “mine”, etc., which in turn gives rise to stress, suffering, and mental sickness. By creating a clear thought about the object, we replace these sort of judgements with a simple recognition of the object as it is.
  • Benefits of Meditation (PDF p. 18)
    • By cultivating the habit of clear awareness of reality, the mind will become happier, lighter and more free from stress and suffering that come from judgement and clinging.
    • One will come to see clearly how one’s own mental habits cause one to suffer; how external stimuli are not really a cause for suffering or happiness until one clings to them.
    • Further, one will come to understand the minds of others in the same way. Without meditation, people tend to immediately judge others based on their actions and speech, giving rise to liking or disliking, attraction or hatred towards them. Through the practice of meditation, one comes to understand how others are a cause for their own suffering and happiness, and so one is more inclined to forgive and accept others as they are without judging them.
    • As a result, when difficult situations arise one will be able to respond to situations with clarity of mind, accepting one’s experiences for what they are instead of falling prey to likes and dislikes, fear, anxiety, confusion, and so on. One will be able to bear conflict, difficulty, sickness, and even death, much better than one would have without the practice of meditation.
    • The fourth benefit, the true aim of the meditation practice, is that one will be able to rid oneself of the evils in one’s own mind that cause suffering for oneself and others; anger, greed, delusion, anxiety, worry, stress, fear, arrogance, conceit, and so on. One will see all mental states that create unhappiness and stress for oneself and others clearly as they are and discard them as a result.
  • Meditation practice is like falling rain. Every moment one is clearly aware of reality is like a single rain drop. Though it may seem insignificant, if one is mindful continuously from one moment to the next, clearly aware of each moment one at a time, these moments of concentrated awareness will accumulate and give rise to strong concentration and clear insight into reality, just as minuscule drops of falling rain accumulate to fill a lake or flood an entire village. (PDF p. 27)
  • Meditation is meant to cultivate clarity and understanding, free (one) from addiction, aversion, and delusion, and therefore free (one) from suffering. (PDF p. 31)

Paul Mason from [Mason]

  • The important thing to realise about meditation is that, unless a ‘thought-free state’ is attained, one is still involved in the incessant activity of the mind, regardless of how interesting that might be.
  • So, at some time, you need to give yourself a break from the seemingly endless process of thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking ….

Amit, The Spiritual Indian

  • From [Amit_NoMind]:
    • (M)editation is a state of no-mind or a state when thoughts have ceased to exist and you are also totally conscious or alert.
    • (M)editation is a state of relaxed awareness where all thoughts have ceased to exist.
  • From [Amit_Watcher]:
    • In meditation practice, your job is just to be a watcher and not the controller of mind. 
      • Allow the mind to do what it wants and you just be a silent and passive watcher of mind.
      • Watch every thought which comes to your mind without labeling it good or bad or judging it in any way.
    • Meditation has nothing to do with controlling mind or stopping your thoughts.
    • When you actually try to control the mind then it becomes more active.
      • The more you struggle with the mind, the more it receives energy from you and it becomes more unstoppable.
      • So one of the important principle of meditation is not to desire anything and don’t try to stop or control the mind.
  • From [Amit_StopThinking?]
    • Mind works in a weird way.  The more you try to control it, the more it will go out of control. 
    • It is useless to fight with mind. because more you try to control or stop your thinking, more your mind is going to think.

Jiddu Krishnamurthi

  • The body has its own intelligence, which thought has destroyed. (from “Beyond Violence, p. 92 according to [Christianson EyesStill])

Ramana Maharshi

  • 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.
  • The quieter we become, the more we can hear.
  • Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart.  Let go of thinking
  • When a man is awakened, he melts and perishes.
  • 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.


  • Here’s some samples from Quotes of Milarepa at OneLittleAngel.com
    • Maintain the state of undistractedness, and distractions will fly away. Dwell alone, and you shall find the Friend. Take the lowest place, and you shall reach the highest. Hasten slowly, and you shall soon arrive. Renounce all worldly goals, and you shall reach the highest Goal. If you follow this unfrequented path, you will find the shortest way. If you realize Sunyata (the absolute Emptiness), compassion will arise within your hearts; and when you lose all differentiation between yourself and others, then you will be fit to serve others.
    • If you seek another’s spiritual welfare before attaining your own, it would be like a helplessly drowning man trying to save another man in the same predicament. Therefore, one should not be too anxious and hasty in setting out to save others before one has, oneself, realized Truth in Its fullness. That would be like the blind leading the blind. As long as the sky endures, there will be no dearth of sentient beings for you to serve, and your opportunity for such service will come.
    • All worldly pursuits have but one unavoidable and inevitable end, which is sorrow; acquisitions end in dispersion; buildings in destruction; meetings in separation; births in death. Knowing this, one should, from the very first, renounce acquisitions and storing-up, and building, and meeting; and, faithful to the commands of an eminent Guru, set about realizing the Truth. That alone is the best of religious observances.
  • From Quotes of Milarepa from Goodreads.com:
    • When ye look at me I am an idle, idle man; when I look at myself I am a busy, busy man.
      • Since upon the plain of uncreated infinity I am building, building the tower of ecstasy, I have no time for building houses.
      • Since upon the steppe of the void of truth I am breaking, breaking the savage fetter of suffering,
    • I have no time for ploughing family land. 
      • Since at the bourn of unity ineffable I am subduing, subduing the demon-foe of self, I have no time for subduing angry foe-men.
      • Since in the palace of mind which transcends duality I am waiting, waiting for spiritual experience as my bride, I have no time for setting up house.


  • 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.

From the Bible

These are from the American Standard Version (ASV):

  • (C)asting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. – 2nd Corinthian 10:5
  • And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:7
  • Search me, O God, and know my heart:  Try me, and know my thoughts; – Psalm 139:23


  • Many people think that they experience life by thinking thoughts.  That is not true.  Thoughts are experienced like color, sounds and sensations. – Unknown wise one from Germany
  • The goal of meditation isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop letting them control you. – Anonymous
  • The quieter you become the more you can hear. – Anonymous
  • The day you decide that you are more interested in being aware of your thoughts than you are in the thoughts themselves – that is the day you will find your way out. – Michael Singer
  • Remember, when we meet, you are meeting yourself through me. – Fiona Stolze from her reply on her About page dated Sept 10, 2012.
  • There’s no new thoughts, they are all recycled. – Byron Katie.
  • We are not our thoughts
    • Or other variants:  You are not your thoughts.  I am not the thoughts.  The thoughts are not you / me.
  • 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]
  • At the beginning there may be a sense of calm and peace.  But after a while your mind will seem even worse than before.  Even though your mind may seem worse, actually it is better. … The reason why your mind seems worse after meditating for a while is that your emotional problems are coming to the surface. – Lama Gursam [Gursam_ImportanceMeditation]
  • Your thoughts try to do everything in their power to make you rush after them, and to satisfy them by giving them your full attention, until you get completely lost in your thoughts and forget to even gain a glimpse at your inner self for once in a day. – Rahul Singh [Singh]
  • Firstly, you don’t exist. … Thirdly, ego cannot die because it is an illusion.  Fighting with ego is just more ego.  Notice this.  Be careful of building up a new anti-ego ego.  That’s still ego.  See through that whole game. – Leo Gura from [Actualized_TenBulls]
  • Scales fall from the eyes.  目からウロコが(落ちる). (a Japanese saying)
  • Basically, there are two states … and you are in one of them at any given time:
    • Thinking without knowing you are thinking.
    • Being aware that you are thinking. – Wattsghost [Reddit_Catching]  (Editor: likely in the context of thoughts)
  • The regulation of attention is a central feature of different meditation methods (Davidson and Goleman 1977), and meditation practices can be usefully classified into two main styles – focused attention (FA) and open monitoring (OM) – depending on how the attention processes are directed (Cahn and Polich 2006, Lutz et al., 2008a). [Raffone_Attention]
  • Mindfulness is the awareness of “some-thing,” while meditation is the awareness of “no-thing.” – Ed and Deb Shapiro [Shapiro_Mindfulness]
  • When you were unhappy, it was because of the contents of your mind. – A meditation teacher.
  • One of the foundations of inner peace for me is realizing that I am not my thoughts. In order to do that, though—and this is pretty much the core of everything I practice and write about—I had to learn to observe my thoughts, to recognize that the thoughts exist on their own plane, and that thoughts weren’t the same as me. – Sarah Chauncey [Chauncey_Thoughts]
  • I asked a meditation teacher how to share this gift I have received.   The teacher replied “By listening.” – River
  • From the Bahiya Sutta
    • Then, Bāhiya, you should train yourself thus:  In reference to the seen, there will be only the seen. In reference to the heard, only the heard. In reference to the sensed, only the sensed. In reference to the cognized, only the cognized. That is how you should train yourself.
    • When for you there will be only the seen in reference to the seen, only the heard in reference to the heard, only the sensed in reference to the sensed, only the cognized in reference to the cognized, then, Bāhiya, there is no you in connection with that.
    • When there is no you in connection with that, there is no you there. When there is no you there, you are neither here nor yonder nor between the two. This, just this, is the end of stress. [2]
  • [ArtOfLiving_Meditation].
    • Meditation happens when thoughts subside.  Thoughts arise in so many ways and take you for a spin. … Desires, ambitions, expectations, doubts, unpleasant memories, feverishness, worries, botherations
    • What makes a worry stay with you is – your illusion that you are going to live forever.
    • Desire simply means that the present moment is not all right.  This causes tension in the mind.   As long as some desires linger in your mind, you cannot be at total rest.
    • You have no control over the desires. Even if you say, “Oh, desire is the cause of misery. I shouldn’t have desires, when will I be free of desires?” that is another desire! So, as they come up, recognize them and let go.
    • Let go of all effort – to stop thoughts, or to concentrate, or to contemplate.
  • [ArtOfLiving]
    • Meditation is the delicate art of doing nothing and letting go of all the efforts to relax into your true nature which is love, joy and peace.
    • When the mind becomes free from agitation, is calm and serene and at peace, meditation happens.


[Actualized_TenBulls] Comment by Leo Gura (Dec 31, 2016) in “The Ten Bulls:  I am Catching the Bull,” Actualized.org, Dec 30, 2016.

[Amit_NoMind] Amit, “What is Meditation | Real Meditation is a state of no-mind or no thoughts,” The Spiritual Indian, June 17, 2016.

[Amit_StopThinking?] Amit,  “How to stop thinking | Is it possible to stop thinking directly?” The Spiritual Indian, Feb 2, 2016.

[Amit_Watcher] Amit, “Be a watcher and not a controller of mind in meditation practice, The Spiritual Indian, Jan 10, 2016.

[ArtOfLiving_Meditation] “Meditation & Thoughts,” ArtOfLiving.org.

[ArtOfLiving] “What is Meditation?,” ArtOfLiving.org.

[BurtHarding_Awaken] Burt Harding, “Three Things You Need to Awaken,” (11:20 mins)

[Bhikkhu] Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu, “How to Meditate: A Beginner’s Guide to Peace,” (PDF, 52 pages)

[Bodhipaksa] Bodhipaksa, “Is meditation about making your mind go blank?” WildMind.org.

[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.

[Chauncey_Thoughts] Sarah Chauncey, “Learning How to Observe Thoughts,” LivingTheMess.com, January 25, 2017.

[Colier_BreakingFree] Nancy Colier, “Breaking Free from the Tyranny of Thought:  Stop Feeding Your Mind and it Will Stop Biting You,” NancyColier.com, Aug 10, 2013.

[Christianson_EyesStill] John Christianson, “On Keeping the Eyes Still,” Seeing Anew: Exploring Perception.

[Colier_WhyMeditate] Nancy Colier, “Why Meditate? – How not trying to change creates change!” Psychology Today, Jan 29, 2013.

[Colier_Thoughts] Nancy Colier, “Why Our Thoughts Are Not Real,” NancyColier.com, September 27, 2013.

[Cutler_FreedomFromThoughtsSuffering]  Peter Cutler, “From Freedom from Thoughts = Freedom from Suffering,” n-lightenment.com, July 18, 2017.

[Cutler Interview] “BATGAP Interview with Peter Cutler,” March 4, 2017.

[Deconstructing_Meditation] Michael Taft, “Meditation – Why ‘Deconstruction’?”, Deconstructing Yourself.

[Deconstructing_Self] Michael Taft, “Deconstructing the Self with Mindfulness Meditation (Part 2),” Deconstructing Yourself.

[Deconstructing_HowTo] Michael Taft, “How to Deconstruct Yourself (Part 3),” Deconstructing Yourself.

[Didonna_Handbook] Fabrizio Didonna (Editor), Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness, Springer, 2009 (PDF, 536 pages).

[Fronsdal_Thoughts] Gil Fronsdal, “Mindfulness of Thoughts (Week 4)” (Transcription of a Talk), Insight Meditation Center, Jan 30, 2008.

[Fronsdal_ThoughtsIntro] Gil Fronsdal,  “Introductory Course in Mindfulness Meditation, 4th Week – Mindfulness of Thoughts,” Insight Meditation Center (PDF, 2 pages).

[Fronsdal_Freedom] “Gil Fronsdal:  Freedom from Thinking,” insightmed, YouTube Video, May 14, 2018 (37:53 mins).

[Gursam_ImportanceMeditation] Lama Gursam, “The Importance of Meditation,” LamaGursam.org

[Haemin_Love] Haemin Sunim, “Love for Imperfect Things – How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection,” Penguin Books, 2018.

[Harris_LookingForSelf] Sam Harris, “Waking Up with Sam Harris – Looking for the Self (26 Minute Meditation),” (26:16mins)”

[Harris_WakingUp] Sam Harris, Waking Up – A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion, 2014.

[Mason] Paul Mason, “The Knack of Meditation – The Non-Nonsense Guide to Successful Meditation,”

[McVey_Self-InquiryMechanics] Mike McVey, “On the Mechanics of Self-Inquiry Meditation,” DiscoveringNonDuality.com, Jan. 8, 2020.

[Milarepa_Wildmind] Quote of Milarepa, Wildmind.org, Aug 5, 2006.

[More_FloatingOnWater] Chetan More, “Meditation is Like Floating on Water,” TheChoicelessAwareness.com, Jan. 21, 2018.

[More_HowToMeditate] Chetan More, “How to Meditate?”  TheChoicelessAwareness.com, Nov. 3, 2017.

[More_MeditationOpenSecret] Chetan More, “Meditation:  The Open Secret,” TheChoicelessAwareness.com, November 1, 2017.

[Phakchok_LionDog] Phakchok Rinpoche and Erric Solomon, “Creating a Confident Mind – How to behave more like a lion and less like a dog,” Tricycle.org, Fall 2018.

[Putkonen_Surrender] Eric Putkonen, “Surrender – who surrenders and who is trying to let go? Surrender what?” EngagedDuality.com, Aug 23, 2018.

[Raffone_Attention] Antonino Raffone, Narayanan Srinivasan, “The exploration of meditation in the neuroscience of attention and consciousness,” Cognitive Processes, Dec. 30, 2009.

[Raynor_AT] Cecile Raynor, “The Alexander Technique, Non-Doing, and Expanded Awareness,” AmSAT News / Summer 2010 / Issue No. 83 www.AmSATonline.org

[Reddit_Catching] “Is Catching Yourself Thinking the Same as Being Aware of it?” Reddit.com, Reply by Wattsghost, Mar 6, 2015.

[Rohr_Illusion] Richard Rohr, “The Illusion of Separation,” Center for Action and Contemplation, Nov. 14, 2018.

[Sen_Judging] Sen, “How Can I Stop Judging People?” Calm Down Mind, June 10, 2011.

[Shapiro_Mindfulness] Ed and Deb Shapiro “Mindfulness & Meditation: What’s the Difference?” Medium.org, May 8, 2017.

[Singh] Rahul Singh, “The State of No Thought,” LifeBeginner.com, Aug 5, 2016.

[Spira_HighestMeditation] Rupert Spira, “The Highest Meditation,” 8:45 mins.

[Tolbol_Compass] Morten Tolbol, “The Compass – The Forgotten Secret of Hara Healing.”

[Tolle_HabitThinking] “Eckhart Tolle – How Do We Break The Habit Of Excessive Thinking?” (11:06 mins)

[Tollifson_Meditation] Joan Tollifson, “True Meditation: What is it?” JoanTollifson.com, 2018.

[Ury_Yourself] William Ury, Getting to Yes with Yourself: and Other Worthy Opponents, HarperOne, 2015.

[Warren] Dennis Warren, “Thinking and Thoughts – The Role of Thinking in Meditation,” Guiding Instructor, Sacramento Insight Meditation.

[Whalen_ObserverThoughts] Jill Whalen, Being the Observer of Your Thoughts, whatdidyoudowithjill.com/ 

[Williams] Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn, The Mindful Way through Depression – Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness, 2007.

2 thoughts on “Quotes on Meditation and Mindfulness – Related to Thoughts and Thinking

  1. bodhi2016 December 20, 2018 / 2:47 pm

    Thanks for the mention. No need to publish this, but I notice you spelled my name wrong a couple of times. It’s Bodhipaksa, not Bodhipaska.


    • kiai December 21, 2018 / 2:57 am

      My apologies. They should now be corrected. And “Thank you” for your website. I enjoy reading your articles 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s