LIST-Mindfulness Well-being

Mindfulness of Thoughts

“A thought is not a fact – a thought is just a thought”

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Background: We often treat thoughts as if they are facts (eg, “I am no good at this”; “He’s is a jerk”; “Nobody understand me”; “I am brilliant”, etc), and when we have a thought many times it can condense into a belief (a belief is just a thought or thoughts that I have a lot of the time). Beliefs can then be taken as facts – eg. “The world is flat” – enough people had that thought often enough for it to be assumed to be a fact for centuries! When we start to pay attention to our thoughts, with a gentle curiosity, then we start to think about thinking (meta-cognition) and we move away from believing that the thought is a fact.

  • Commence with a Mindfulness of the Breath.
  • Allow yourself to notice any thoughts that come into your head as you are aware of your breathing
  • Notice, pay attention to and accept these thoughts, without judgment (thoughts are not bad or good, positive or negative, they just are what they are – the thought that you are having at this particular moment)
  • You may become aware that you are having difficulty thinking about your thoughts – think about that. You may be thinking; “I can’t do this very well” – well, that’s a thought too. Allow yourself to think about that.
  • Some people like the metaphor of allowing the thoughts to just float like leaves on a stream, or clouds in a sky, noticing each passing thought and then the one that comes after it, and then the one that comes after that.
  • A Buddhist idea is to think of thoughts as pages written on water.
  • You may notice that just at the moment you become aware of a thought, it passes and is replaced by another thought. That’s what happens – thoughts come, and they go.
  • Finally, bring yourself back to awareness of the breath.