How to Stop Thinking; Meditation

Ultimately, you are not the one thinking.

You are not the mind nor the mind.  You are the eternal witness!

You can know you’re not your mind. Just tell your mind to stop.  It won’t! It just goes right on thinking.  (This insight, and most of what I write, courtesy of Dr. David R. Hawkins)

You are consciousness itself.

The mind thinks.  The mind identifies with the body – that which is impermanent and subject to birth and death – and so it basically operates out of fear.  It’s modus operandi is subjective pleasure and gain to perpetuate it’s own survival.  It justifies shame, guilt, anger, fear, pride, greed, lust, jealousy, and any and all negativity because it fears for its own life.  “Mine is the saddest story ever told,” is a common refrain from the ego.

The practice of meditation begins with calming and quieting the mind.  In Hindu tradition, the first step is to choose an uplifting point of focus.  The point of focus can be the image of a great spiritual teacher, a loved one, or an inspiring idea like Peace, Universal Love, etc.  It is also common in the Hindu tradition to use a mantra, which is generally a word or phrase in the sanskrit language, such as Om or Om Shanti (Shanti means Peace). The practitioner then dwells on that chosen point of focus and allows that point to elevate their entire consciousness.  For example, thinking about Jesus or Buddha automatically uplifts the mind out of much selfishness.  The ego operates from selfishness, and by perpetually re-focusing the mind on a selfless idea that is beneficial and inspiring to all, the one experiences directly that there is something greater than selfishness, which helps transcend the ego.  First the ego is purified with repetitious pure, uplifting thoughts, then even the uplifting point of focus is let go of to allow that which is beyond thoughts and ideas to shine forth.


To help understand the nature of the mind and letting go of thoughts…

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, he identifies five types of thoughts, which include right knowledge, misconception, verbal delusion, memory, and sleep.  Let’s look at these individually.

Thoughts of Right Knowledge include accurate assessments of Reality.  There are generally three sources of right knowledge: scriptural testimony and the words of enlightened masters, inferences, and direct experience.  Scriptures are accepted as right knowledge by those who respect them – so thinking about the words of Jesus or Buddha would be considered right knowledge.  Right knowledge from an inference would be something like seeing smoke and inferring there is a fire.  Lastly, right knowledge through direct experience is like putting your hand on the stove then declaring, “It is hot!”  These are the ways in which we glean right knowledge in the world.

Misconception is when we mistake one thing for another – we project the wrong concept upon something.  Like, if it is dark outside and we see a rope sitting in the corner of the room but mistake it to be a snake, that is an example of misconception.

Verbal delusion includes the language of metaphors as well as the imagination, what you could call futuristic thinking.  Essentially, any thoughts about the so-called future are actually thoughts about the future since the future has not yet been determined.  So even though we might fancy that our thinking about futuristic events are true and accurate, they are actually just a form of delusion.

Memory includes any thoughts of the past.  Potentially, memory is one of the most dominant thought forms – especially for anyone who finds themselves regularly in states of guilt, shame, or depression – it likely arises from cultivating thought patterns about the past over and over again.

Lastly, sleep is a thought form, and it is something like the thought of nothingness – but is not of the same value as reaching a state of blankness in the mind during meditation, which requires practice, good fortune, and God’s Grace.  Of course, falling asleep in and of itself is amazing and worthy of great appreciation, but it is different than totally quieting the mind in meditation.


Now that we have some awareness of the different types of thoughts that arise in the mind, what do we do about them?

In meditation, as you practice focusing the mind, you may notice the mind wander to a thought about the future or the past, or to assessing some situation, or to poetic language, etc.  As soon as you are aware of the mind wandering, you can bring the mind back to the chosen point of focus.  However, simply bringing the mind and letting go of whatever the mind was previously thinking about can be tough.  So, it is valuable to be aware of the types of thought forms so you can briefly label them in your meditation – seeing them for what they are – and then letting them go.

Especially after sustained concentration for a while on your chosen point of focus, you can begin to increase the length in between repetitions, allowing for more silence to pervade.  In the silence, you may be aware of a random thought form coming up.  When it arises it, you can see which type of thought form it is, and dismiss it with a return to your chosen point of focus.

Knowing the nature of the mind and the nature of thoughts makes it much easier to let go of thoughts.  Thinking is ultimately a vain process which suggests some lack of complete trust in God.  To gradually surrender the thought process is akin to progressively relaxing into the arms of God, trusting completely.  We don’t even need to think.  And really, we are not the one’s thinking.

As the mind becomes calmer and quieter, when you notice a thought arise out of the silence, you might find it comical.  In a space of stillness and silence, you are no longer personally willing the thinking process, but you can clearly witness the thinking arising out of the mind/ego’s attempt to hold on for its own survival.  When the thinking slows and stops, the mind thinks it is dying and ultimately does whatever it can survive.  The thoughts that arise may seem quite absurd – and laughing at that might feel appropriate.  It is refreshing to be able to witness the show of the mind without identifying with it.  To see clearly that you are not the mind and to see that the thoughts arise spontaneously on their own is a great relief.


The more you flood your consciousness with ideas concerning spiritual evolution and liberation from the bondage of the ego/mind, the greater the awareness can be in the process of meditation to allow you to transcend the ego and its schemes for subjective pleasure and gain.

The work of Dr. David R. Hawkins profoundly served to point in the right direction and to educate me about the formal process of the spiritual path and transcending the ego.  Not to say I’m there yet, but being familiar with the ideas is certain valuable, and at the very least has grown me in compassion and understanding for the human condition and familiarity with the ego and how to go beyond it.  He says the ego is not transcended by condemning it but rather with compassionate understanding.  The human is just a lovable animal.  We can care for it and enjoy its company, all the while not getting caught in the drama.

Enjoy the show!

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!



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