A Practical Experiment with Thoughts

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We are like a vessel without a helmsman at the mercy of the waves of our thoughts. The storm happens around us, and we are pushed in every direction by the wind of our emotions, of our thoughts. The only thing we hope is not to bang against a rock which could harm us. The most common thing about this is that we almost always forget that these thoughts are just thoughts, a product of our mind: namely, we are not our thoughts, but thoughts arise in our mind.
Ordinarily, people have from sixty to eighty thousand thoughts a day, and every thought gives an emotional response. So, it would be useful to achieve some experiential knowledge about that, and become more responsible for them. Every thought has its beginning, its time of duration and its end. We can imagine them like a movie projected on a white cinema screen. Who is looking at the movie? As a mirror cannot reflect itself, so also a thought cannot observe thought. That’s a good starting point to understand, something new about how and what happens in our mind.
Let’s try a simple experiment!
1. Sit comfortably or lie down on your bed, and take the necessary time to relax a moment. Make some gentle abdominal breaths to increase that relaxation.
2. Then, say mentally to yourself the word “marmalade” and take a minute to notice all the associative thoughts which arise in your mind. You just notice them, without judging or doing anything to influence them. Just take a look at what is happening. Enjoy this movie.
3. After a minute, take note of all the mental associations that happened during this minute in response to the word “marmalade”. Maybe you thought that this is a stupid word, or evoked something related to your childhood. Also, notice if and how the thought association went away from the word in question, producing thoughts about our everyday life, what we have to do, etc., that we are unable to do such experiments.
4. Now, also notice that between two thoughts, there was a gap, a pause…and that you are that pause between these thoughts, and that this gap exists even during the thought process. Realize that you are not your thoughts, you are what/who observes them.
Doing such an experiment every day for a determined period could help you to be a little more detached, unidentified, and less susceptible from what happens in your mind.