How to sit with your thoughts with these 3 phases

Today, as I’m sitting with my thoughts in front of the rising Sun, I see my thoughts with such rare clarity; the clarity I wish I have all the time.

I see 3 phases that my thoughts go through. The 1st phase, let’s call it «Distraction», is synonymous with Mass Media, Prozac, and iTunes. That’s the phase where I daydream. I create virtual scenarios that are more pleasant than reality; a beach in Hawaii, being invisible, being a virtual character living an adventurous ideal life, etc. By doing that, I distract myself from the thoughts caused by real-life incidents.

Ironically, although technically I seem to be sitting with my thoughts, I’m actually still distracting myself from them. Ironically as well, I think that meditation might just be another way to distract myself from the thoughts that matter. While meditating, I visualize virtual worlds (daydreaming), I repeat a mantra (can’t think in parallel), I focus on breath (can’t focus on the thoughts at the same time.)

It just might be that meditation relieves me from stress and emotional pain, by distracting me from the causes of pain (Prozac?). I’m not attacking meditation, since I’m a meditator myself. I’m only suggesting that maybe there needs to be a time for sitting with my thoughts, just like there needs to be a time for meditating (which helps me deal with those thoughts.) This of course contradicts the core teachings of most meditation schools. These schools discourage meditators from allowing their thoughts to flow freely; ideally 24/7. I hope you now get why I called the 1st phase «Distraction».

Let’s call the 2nd phase «Acceptance». Phase 2 starts when I become aware of «Distraction». That’s when I push away the distracting daydreams. Immediately, the reality of my life flows in. I’m aware of the problems and conflicts. I’m aware of where I am now in life, as opposed to where I want to be. At this point, daydreams and distractions start to interfere again, in an effort to take me away from the pain of realization.

Obviously that’s a sign that I’m in denial. It’s only when I push the daydreams away and stick to the reality of my life, that I start accepting that reality and all its problems. And when I do that, when I accept the pain of realization, when I watch all my thoughts with acceptance, that’s when I’m ready to move to the 3rd phase.

Let’s call the 3rd phase «Resolution». Once I accept my thoughts, I’m well on my way to resolving them. I process the thoughts as they come. I think through each one until, arbitrarily, another one comes along. Except that the thoughts don’t come arbitrarily. Because naturally, in this phase, my mind feeds me my problems from the most painful to the least.

Naturally, also in this phase, my mind has a natural tendency to automatically start solving any problem it comes across (assuming I’ve broken out of denial, and accepted reality. Otherwise, my mind flees into the comfort of distraction.) And as my mind tackles a problem, suddenly another thought appears, and my mind starts tackling that other problem.

I allow this to happen for a simple reason, which you might have guessed by now. Let’s say my mind feeds me the most painful thought 1st: thought ‘A’. My mind then starts resolving thought ‘A’. As soon as thought ‘B’ comes along, this means that my mind has resolved thought ‘A’ enough for it to be less painful than thought ‘B’. Thus ‘A’ gets replaced with ‘B’ and so on. But at any time the 1st phase can reappear and sweep me into Lala land. I can’t let my guard down.

The 3rd phase is actually pleasant and relieving. It feels as if an ancient tension is finally getting resolved. I look forward to it in the early morning as the Sun rises.

Rather than distracting yourself with daydreaming, Mass Media, Prozac, iTunes, or even a game of Solitaire, try accepting reality for a change. Denial ‘might’ just be the hidden ‘source’ behind our pain. Now that we have an idea of what this source might be, isn’t it time to stop treating the symptoms.

Try going from «Distraction» to «Acceptance» to «Resolution», and share with me your experience.


Twitter: @williamchoukeir


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5 Responses to How to sit with your thoughts with these 3 phases

  1. abdallahelchami says:

    An inspirational piece that ended being my distraction amidst a busy day at work. Which made me think of the possibility of merging both acceptance and daydreams to reach the third phase of resolution. Your dreams can become your solutions, instead of accepting realizations as painful matter-of-facts. Too dreamy perhaps, but it may be the "caffeine" rush that enables you to go from Thought "A" to thought "B".

  2. Anonymous says:

    Well said Abdallah. My dreams can become my solutions, from my experience, only after I’ve accepted the underlying problems as matter-of-facts. As long as I’m denying the reality of these problems, for me at least, dreams remain distractions.Thank you for sharing.

  3. abdallahelchami says:

    I agree 100%. Amazing what the rearranging of words can alter or better a meaning of a concept.

  4. Hanane Kai says:

    And you keep on inspiring me… and many others am sure.

  5. Anonymous says:

    yep. i think this is something the whole human population struggles with on a daily basis… But in honesty and reality, I’m not working on this, as I’ve been telling myself that I Have. As I’ve apparently been stuck in distraction mode my whole life. Interesting piece and very thought provoking! thanks.

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