You Are Not Your Thoughts!
You are not your thoughts. You are not your emotions. You are the soul inhabiting the human body that is having those thoughts and emotions. Breathe that in for a second. At your very core, you are pure consciousness - the space in which thought forms and emotions arise. You are only affected by them to the extent that you identify with them and that is a CHOICE. That’s right, you get to choose which thoughts and emotions you identify with and whether you are CONSCIOUS of it or not, you are choosing from moment to moment.
I remember the first time I came across this idea. I was reading the “Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle and I had been a slave to my rampant thoughts for years. That was my identity. “I’m a thinker. I’m an analyzer. It’s what I do, for better or for worse.” The truth is that I didn’t know any better until this beautiful piece of life-altering wisdom found me at the perfect moment.
At that point in my life, I had begun to meditate a little and was getting better at maintaining my focus on my breath and doing guided relaxation of one body part at a time. I played with the idea a little. “I am not my thoughts? I am not my emotions? Ok… If I am not that, then what am I?” The piece that completed the puzzle for me was a subtle aligning of knowledge and experience. I had been able to reach points in my meditations where my thoughts would subside for brief intervals and began to see that there was indeed an “off switch” to my thinking mind. That was the experience. The knowledge was Eckhart’s observation that when we are not thinking, but just BEING, we are still very much alive. In fact we are not only still alive, but in that space, we are better able to connect to our true nature, to the Divine, to the place within us that pure JOY, PEACE, LOVE and CREATIVITY emanate from. To simply be that consciousness, to dwell in that space, to live from there, that is the meaning of enlightenment.
The moment that I was able to understand this was the single most important step in my spiritual journey. It was a moment of great relief and excitement as I awoke to my true nature, my connectedness to Source and the possibility of freedom from the incessant thinking that had caused me much suffering up until that point. That awareness marked a new beginning, my first steps along the spiritual path and with them, came great responsibility.
Once we realize that we are the ones choosing, we can no longer blame our circumstances or others for making us think or feel a certain way. Once we see that our perceptions and the meanings we give to life’s circumstances shape our experience, it is up to us to be selective about which thoughts and emotions we are going to believe and buy into, even amidst great challenges.
For me, great frustration followed as the initial glimpses of this state of being were few and far between and the “off switch” often eluded me for long stretches. But as I continued to inhabit this thought-free space through meditation and by playing music, I began to develop a stronger connection to my true nature, to my soul.
Your soul is the observer of it all. The more time you spend with the observer, the more you get to know it, the more you can empower it to be at the helm of your ship.
Why am I telling you this? I am sharing all of this with you in hopes that it will provide you with the same relief and excitement that I felt when I learned there was more to the story than what I had originally THOUGHT. I am sharing it with you in hopes that together, we can take one step on the path of spiritual growth, of purposeful living, of honoring our connectedness and the true miracle of life.
Each of us must begin our journey somewhere and wherever you are right now is the perfect place to be. Perhaps this is all completely foreign to you and the first step is to dabble in a meditation practice. Eckhart Tolle’s work offers a great combination of practical and theoretical teachings to provide the knowledge and experience to get you started. “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain is also a simple and easy-does-it beginner’s manual to meditation and some fundamentals of spiritual practice. Or perhaps you’re a seasoned veteran at all this, a true yogi and this is yet another moment where you can go to your breath, connect with the inner knowing of all that you are and practice BEING as you read this.
You are not your thoughts. You are not your emotions. You are the soul inhabiting the human body that is having those thoughts and emotions. Breathe that in for a second.
Written for The Daily Love (June 2nd, 2012)