When I first tried meditating years ago my focus was all over the place. My thoughts continued to beat myself up: You’re a bad person. You’re mean. You’re selfish. You’re a terrible mom. My dad kept coming up, along with my angry feelings for him. These thoughts raced through my mind, and I kept trying to push them aside. “Focus, you can do this. Don’t listen to those words!” But the words kept coming back, forcing their hatred of me into my mind until finally I gave up and thought: “Let me just listen.” Accept it. Feel it. Dissolve it. Solve it.
It was that simple. I listened to the thoughts that came through. I accepted my thoughts without judgment, as if watching a parade. My thoughts would wander. Memories of my past would appear and I would acknowledge that they happened and accept them for what they were.
Once I accepted each thought I tried to put a feeling to it. “Did this thought make me angry, sad, or depressed? Did it make me happy?” Usually my first emotion toward a thought was what I called a surface emotion. I knew it was a fake, and I had to break it apart to find out what the true emotion was.
That’s when I would dissolve it and solve it. Dissolving it meant I tried to determine why I was feeling the emotion that was attached to the thought. “Was I really feeling angry?” I dug deeper, and asked myself more questions. My feelings were not anger at my dad for beating me—I was sad and hurt that he didn’t love me. And breaking it apart even more, I realized I felt unloved.
Once I uncovered what the issue really was, I could solve it toward actions. With my dad, “how could I build a more loving relationship with him in the present instead of focusing on our past? What actions could I take to feel loved on my terms without allowing someone else to be responsible for my feelings of being loved? How could I love myself?” Sorting through these questions was key in taking steps toward my growth.
Solving my attachments to the negative thoughts and emotions brought me peace. And once I solved my thought, the chatter in my mind would disappear, leaving only calm.
You can try this technique while sitting in meditation, walking outside in nature or even riding in a car. Just find a place where it’s quiet so you can focus on your thoughts.
Why don’t you give it a try?
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