One of the most helpful ways of deciding what to do with our thoughts in meditation is presented in the text Zen Mind, Beginners Mind. The instruction is to invite thoughts, but not serve them tea. I often use this explanation in live retreats and classes, and receive continuous positive feedback of its helpfulness.

Our mind remains, open, relaxed, free of tension.

We can approach our meditation with tension in the mind, and the type of meditation that we choose to practice can increase it, depending on how we are approaching the session. If our understanding of words like ‘focus’ and ‘concentrate’ is clumsy, tightness will most surely arise within our mind. The recovery and sense of relaxation which we may wish to experience in meditation will arise at the end of the practice when it is time to finish!

If we can keep our mind open and relaxed in meditation – inviting thoughts but not entertaining them, we can move into a very chilled sitting practice. We can step back from the busyness of our distracting thoughts, reduce the tension and aggression in the mind, and discover a working objectivity, that allows us to gain an insight into the functioning of our mind.

This ability to step back from our thoughts empowers us with emotional intelligence which we can benefit from in our everyday life. Strong emotions do not sway us, we can let them pass, and thereby begin to free ourselves from the power of negativity.

Written by Adam Dacey
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