How to be Mindful of Thoughts – Part 1

In an earlier video, I explained that one
of the greatest misconceptions about mindfulness meditation, a misunderstanding that is one
of the main reasons why so many people quit and never develop the benefits of their practice,
is this idea that you’re doing it wrong if you can’t still your mind. And, I promised that I’d show you what to
do with all those thoughts racing through your mind in a future video. Well, that’s
what this video is all about: how to work with thoughts while meditating. The most important thing to keep in mind when
working with thoughts is that thoughts are just thoughts. They’re just mental events.
They’re not you and they’re not some unquestionable truth. In fact, a lot of the time, they may
seem totally random. So treat thoughts as what they are: just mental
objects that can be observed. And when you observe thoughts in this way,
you’ll notice that they have two parts to them: a payload and a delivery mechanism. The payload is the content of the thought.
It could be a memory that you’re rehashing, an argument you’re planning to have, the
details of the thing you’re worrying about or obsessing over, and so on. While meditating, you need to be very careful
with the payload. You want to avoid getting sucked-in to the content of your thoughts,
because once you do, you’re no longer objectively observing them. Instead you’re totally identified with them
and lost in them. For this reason, if you’re a beginner, my advice would be to completely
ignore the content of your thoughts while meditating. The delivery mechanism is the form the thought
takes in your mind. Is it verbal, is it a picture, is it like a movie playing in your
head, is it a kinesthetic sensation, is it some combination of the above? Paying attention to the delivery mechanism
of the thoughts in your mind helps you to observe the thoughts without getting captivated
by their content. And you’’ll also learn some cool stuff about how thoughts manifest
in your mind. So, if you’re a beginner at this, your focus
is on just noticing the thoughts. When you become aware of a thought, you mentally label
it as “thinking” and then go back to your breath or whatever your focus for your meditation
was before you noticed the thought. As a beginner, you’re developing the ability
to be aware of thoughts while not getting lost in their content. So, don’t be concerned
with what kind of thought it is, or what it’s about. Once you can notice thoughts pretty easily,
without getting sucked into their content, can observe them in more detail and can categorize
their content or their delivery mechanism, or both. So, for example, when you notice a thought
about planning a future argument, you can mentally label it as “planning” or “planning
argument”. If you noticed that the thought was verbal you can mentally label it as “talking”.
If the thought was a bunch of mental images, you can label it as “images”, and so on. I think you get the idea. That’s it for this video. I hoped you enjoyed
watching it and learned some useful strategies for working with thoughts. Next week, I’ll
show you how to handle thoughts that have a heavy emotional charge, which can make it
really difficult to just observe them as mental objects. Make sure you subscribe to my channel,
so you don’t miss it. I’m Nick Grabovac, Thanks for watching.


  1. Great video. Been looking everywhere for an an explanation of how to be mindful of thought, and this broke it down very nicely. Thanks so much!

  2. Oh hey. Yeah, this makes sense. At times I feel within me meditation potential, like how you can sometimes end up in strange states. Like a couple weeks ago I was trying to sleep and all of a sudden I felt the element of water within, a very famous state in meditation that you can perceive. After a while I let that pass and tried to see if I could get the same intense connection to any of the other four elements, and I did. fire and then earth, both which were interesting because at first I'm just thinking about them as I'd expect them to feel. And I didn't want to trick myself into thinking I was experiencing them just because I was thinking about them, but then they actually did come to me. All of a sudden they washed over me. The feeling of fire spreading from one part of the body until the whole body is on fire. And then earth came to me, the soft, cool feeling of being buried in earth. Wind is kind of hard to explain, I just let it be a tornado of sorts. Ether was hard to find and I'm not sure I was successful.
    This was a bit of a wake up call for me that I should try to harness this power, work to understand it, learn to meditate properly. Plus I got a total ADHD sort of mind and I want to learn concentration because I can't concentrate very well on anything such as reading a book.

    But to go back what I started out writing in my post is that it makes sense when the guy in the video says, essentially that we can observe our thoughts rather than be enslaved by them. I didn't realize until he mentioned it that I am in fact doing the right thing. I always had the problem that I couldn't keep my mind clear. And even if I focused on breathing, soon I hear a song playing in my head. Or see some patterns under my eyelids that spark a thought. I thought that was a problem. But now I realize that the reason it isn't a problem is because I am aware of them, and I'm not indulging in them. I find it fairly easy not to indulge in them. Mostly if I get tired do I get trapped and enslaved and indulge in them which brings me away from meditation, which I think is a problem experienced by a lot of noobs like me.

    To whoever is making this video, thanks. Why hasn't anybody told me this before?!

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