Visualize your Thoughts
One of the biggest challenges for those attempting a meditation practice is the concept of “clearing your mind”. Clearing your mind of thought is, of course, impossible. If you try, all you will think about is “Gosh, it’s difficult to clear my mind!”.
Ekhart Thole, in his book THE POWER OF NOW discusses harnessing the ability to “visualize one’s thoughts” in order to better be present in the “now”. I have tried, since first introduced to this concept, to understand it and put it into practice.
Those who attend my group guided meditation sessions have heard some of the metaphors I use to visualize thought, to not dwell on individual thoughts, and to observe ourselves watching potentially obsessive thoughts pass by without fixating on them - a necessary practice during meditation and to experience presence in your everyday lives.
One model I like to use involves visualizing oneself standing ankle deep in the sea at beachside. The waves break in front of you, roll past you and break gently on the shore. Each breaking wave represents an individual thought or group of thoughts. The trick is to let them pass without fixating on any of them. They pass through you and then gently break on the shore, completely disappearing, only to be replaced by the next gentle wave passing through, once again to break into invisibility on the shore. Rather than getting stuck on any individual thought (wave), the goal is to simply observe the thought, giving it no particular significance or import. once those thoughts are observed and allowed to pass, your mind is then free to concentrate on whatever you are experiencing in the moment - the smell of the sea, the sound of the sea birds, the crashing fo the surf, children laughing and playing, your spouse engaging you in an inspired conversation. The random thoughts are still there, but they are not distracting you form the moment, allowing you to appreciate and live more fully in the now.
We can then extend the metaphor further by walking out beyond the breaking surf to the stillness and calm of the sea beyond the breakers. Here is the space beyond thought, where infinite possibility, promise and hope lie, where you can look into the still water to the reality of your soul beneath, in the place beyond everyday obsessive chaos, connected to the infinite universe.
Try this thought exercise in your meditation practice, or even in your everyday lives, to be more present in the activity at hand, or with the individuals in your presence. Life will be fuller, mean more, and impact you more deeply, embracing the present moment as the only one that truly exists.
Dr. John Monaco