A really powerful teaching I came across in a Tara Brach* podcast one day – and one that I would like to share with you, is the notion that your thoughts are real, but they’re not true. This is especially helpful when you experience ‘unhelpful thinking’ or are prone to self-doubt.
The thoughts are real in the sense that you did just have that thought – however they are only a perception of your reality, constructed by your mind. This is especially helpful to remember when you might be having a troubling thought such as “I will never be successful”, or “I can’t do anything right”… the thought is real. But not necessarily true.
We can get so caught up in our ‘virtual reality’, or ‘stories of the mind’ that we can forget that what we’re experiencing is just that – a story. A good way to separate ourselves from our thoughts is to just note, “thinking”, and bring our attention back to the present moment. An easy way to do this is through a quick body-scan – notice what sensations are in your body right now. Can you feel tingling? Itching? Heat or coolness? It’s a great way to give you some space from your thoughts (because we all know our brains are wonderful things, but sometimes they can have some pretty negative things to say about ourselves!). A reason for giving ourselves this space is so that we can be kind to ourselves, and allow ourselves to realise our thoughts are just our thoughts. They are not our identity. So just because you think you’re bad at something, it doesn’t mean you’re actually bad at it.
Practice tip: Next time you’re down on yourself about anything, whether it’s about your job; how you handled a confrontation with a family member; or the fact that the last 6 batches of yogurt you attempted were all a complete flop and you will NEVER be able to make a good batch!! (let’s just say I’ve given up on using that particular recipe)… Give yourself the space to go “ahhh… real, but not true”; and recognise that your mind can make your thoughts seem so powerful and authentic, but this isn’t necessarily the case (so stop being so hard on yourself! You’re amazing).
*Resources: above I mentioned Tara Brach and her podcasts – Tara is a meditation teacher, a psychologist, an author and would have to be one of my favourite meditation teachers. I would highly recommend taking the time to either visit her website or listen to her wonderful and inspiring podcasts (available on iTunes).