It’s said that the choices we make shape our destiny. Here’s a practice of noticing the little choices we make moment-by-moment to deepen our capacity to become more conscious of the important choices we make on a daily basis that could have far-reaching consequences. In mindfulness, the invitation is to notice that we always have a choice of how we want to engage with whatever thought that arises – sometimes we can’t help thinking about something – how we choose to face it is a choice. We could choose to judge ourselves or simply just watch that thought.
Inspired by the Autobiography of 5 short chapters
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I still don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place. It isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there, I still fall in. It’s habit. It’s my fault. I know where I am. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
A thought easily produces a chain of ideas, intentions, stories, and next thing we know, time has passed. Life has passed. Sometimes we unwittingly shoot another arrow, for example, chiding ourselves for having certain thoughts.
Another trap is when a negative thought arises, we think “positively” to “neutralize”. That is helpful if the intention is to see a more realistic picture. It is not helpful if we’re adding thoughts that are potentially false and speculative simply to make ourselves feel better or to justify ours or other peoples’ actions. It’s a survival instinct.
An alternative response is to let thoughts be like water flowing in the stream instead of adding more. And if we choose to, mindfully directing our energy to thoughts that really matter and to be kind to ourselves for having thoughts. We look deep down to find what matters and what is true for us.
Start the new year with the resolution to keep our resolutions haha. Here’s to cultivating attention and being intentional in directing our mental energy. With a focused mind and warm heart, let’s conquer the world!
The mind gets caught up in thinking and mental chatter. What if we paid particular attention to the silence, the pauses between thoughts? Like noticing the white, not just the black. Noticing calm, not just the chaos. Noticing the little pleasures in life, not just the problems.
This practice of Hearing The Silence is inspired by a session with MBCT teacher Trish Bartley. She referred to one of her favourite conductors, the late Claudio Abbado who when asked what was his favourite part, he said, “The silence that comes after the music.” Indeed.