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05 March 2007 @ 08:48 pm
I meditated this morning for 45 minutes trying out Byron Katie's approach of giving thoughts a picture, naming them, and thanking them for sharing their lives with me.  The last step is to watch as they go back to where they came from. I learned at least a couple of things about my thoughts and about the way my mind works by doing this. Thought I'd share.

First, I find that when I give thoughts a picture (like a photo that catches some main images of the thought) and a name (like a caption), it tends to slow my thinking down. It seems like the thoughts arise a bit less rapidly than usual when I go through this mental process.

Next, I felt a strange combination of relaxation and effortful challenge. It seems that meeting thoughts in this manner provides a good balance between a mental state that is too tightly focused or too wide in scope, too tense or too relaxed. It is rare for me to feel myself poised for so long between these extremes in meditation. I usually seem to be careening toward one extreme or the other for most of the sitting.

Third and most surprising for me, I realized that my thoughts were, at a certain point in the meditation, more real to me than my present situation and experience -- more real. This is not to say that I lost touch with where I was in actual, present time, but only that my thoughts seemed livelier, juicier, more vivid and interesting than my real situation. Compared to my thoughts, being seated on a cushion in my office seemed quite bland -- floor, carpet, desk, lamp, CD player, and so on. My thoughts seemed lots more interesting. I actually felt at a certain moment that my present moment circumstances were dream-like while my thoughts were more real. Before this morning, I had not so clearly felt my experience of present time as so dreamy and unreal; conversely, I never realized that my thoughts could seem so substantial and fascinating. I saw an almost complete reversal of the real and imagined in my experience and felt a little creeped out by it. Even as I wrote the words in my journal, the words I am typing now, I was present to my mind looking past the page and moving off to other thoughts as the pen moved across the paper: now a fragment of last night's dream; now an image of the lunch I would eat soon.

Mainly, I felt like meditation this morning was an authentic session of mind training, an unusual experience for me.