Meditation, a practise that has been embraced across many different cultures across the centuries, offering numerous physical and mental benefits. It is often seen as a path to inner peace and self-discovery. Yet, a common question I receive from both beginners and experienced practitioners is whether one should think while meditating. The answer to this question is multifaceted, and it often varies based on individual experiences and goals.
The Essence of Meditation
At its core, meditation is about achieving a state of focused awareness and inner stillness. It encourages the practitioner to be present in the moment, free from the distractions of the external world. There are many different styles of meditation, and there are many different purposes that require meditation, which many are not aware of. However, the idea that meditation requires a complete absence of thoughts can be a misconception.
The Flow of Thoughts
The human mind is naturally inclined to think. Thoughts are like the constant flow of a river, and trying to stop them completely during meditation can be a frustrating endeavour. Clients often express concern about their inability to silence their thoughts while meditating.
The Role of Mindfulness
One approach is to practise mindfulness meditation. In mindfulness, you acknowledge your thoughts without judgement. When thoughts arise, you gently guide your focus back to your chosen point of attention, whether it’s your breath, a mantra, or a visual image or spiritual connection. This process helps you develop a non-reactive awareness of your thoughts.
Different Styles, Different Goals
The answer to whether you should think during meditation also depends on the style of meditation and your goals. Some meditation techniques, like concentrative meditation, involve focusing on a single point and may naturally lead to fewer thoughts. On the other hand, meditation practices that encourage self-inquiry or contemplation, such as Vipassana or Zen meditation, may involve more active thinking as part of the process. Creating a spiritual connection on the other hand, may be about building your awareness of the spirit world, or it may be the search for an answer to a problem or question, in which case, you will most definitely have thoughts & feelings or impressions during the meditation.
Guidance for Those Wishing to Learn Meditation
As a meditation teacher, I teach that your approach should be flexible and tailored to your individual needs which may differ each time you sit to meditate. Here are some tips for addressing the question of thinking during meditation:
- Normalise Thoughts: Be assured that it’s perfectly normal to have thoughts during meditation. Know that meditation is not about eliminating thoughts but changing your relationship with them.
- Understanding Mindfulness: Mindfulness is about how it involves observing thoughts without attachment. Practice viewing your thoughts as passing clouds in the sky of your awareness.
- Goal-Oriented Approach: Be clear about your meditation goals. If you are seeking relaxation and stress relief, a gentle, non-judgmental approach to thoughts may be appropriate. If you’re aiming for deep self-inquiry, guided reflection on specific questions may be valuable.
- Practise Patience: Meditation is a skill that develops over time. It’s important to be patient with yourself and to continue practising consistently & constantly, one meditation per year isn’t going to give you what you need.
In the world of meditation, there is no universal rule about whether you should think or not. The essence of meditation lies in cultivating awareness, presence, and a deep connection with your inner self. Thinking during meditation is not an obstacle but an opportunity to observe the mind’s patterns.
As a meditation teacher, my role is to guide you on your unique journey. Embrace the ebb and flow of your thoughts, knowing that with time and practice, you’ll find the stillness you seek.
Ultimately, meditation is a personal experience, and whether you think or not while meditating, the path to inner peace is yours to explore. If you need help with your meditation or even if you want to get started then message me.
I offer a meditation workshop whether you’re a beginner or simply can’t seem to master the art of meditation, take a look here for more info & join the mailing list for future dates. You may also enjoy my blog on how meditation can help you deal with the adversities that life throws at us.
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