Observing thoughts

This is the place to post whatever questions you have related to the teachings of Eckhart Tolle. The rest of us will do whatever we can to help you achieve a better understanding :)
seekerjon
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:17 pm

Observing thoughts

Post by seekerjon » Sun Dec 02, 2007 1:19 am

Ok so I have been following ET's book for I guess the past 7 months or so read his book over and over again and read a lot of Buddhism books my question is how do you guys observe your thoughts. I usually focus my attention throughtout the day on any sensations there are in my body or just feel my feet on the ground and stuff like that. When a thought arises when I do these things I just say "thinking" or I say "yes" to just accept whatever thought it is no matter how good or bad it is. Now is that the right way to do it? Every thought that comes up I try and see if and where I can feel it in my body. Is this how you observe? At times I try to make my thoughts my focus then whatever arises I just say "thinking" and watch it kind of vanish is this right? Of course my ego is driving me nuts and telling me no its not. Anyway would appreciate some insight from people who have more experience with this. By the way I can't follow my breath so I make other things my main focus.

User avatar
kiki
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 4587
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2004 8:55 pm
Location: Wherever "here" happens to be

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by kiki » Sun Dec 02, 2007 3:47 am

When a thought arises when I do these things I just say "thinking" or I say "yes" to just accept whatever thought it is no matter how good or bad it is. Now is that the right way to do it? Every thought that comes up I try and see if and where I can feel it in my body.
Don't over complicate this. When you look at a tree how do you know you see it? When you hear a song how do you know you hear it? When you taste your pie how do you know you taste it? When someone touches your hand how do you know you feel it? When you smell the coffee percolating how do you know you smell it? There is no need to think about or label any of these things because consciousness simply does the "knowing" - that's all it does, it "knows", it's aware, it's conscious. It's the same with thoughts, consciousness simply "knows" they are there. The problem comes when people think that they are the author of their thoughts, that they belong to them and they then identify with what's in the mind.

ET's portals are ways of shifting attention away from identification with mind by placing it on other things; on the inner body, for example, or on what's immediately present. This helps to create a space between "what is" and the mind, allowing you the opportunity to discover/realize that You are something beyond the mind - consciousness. It's the same with Ramana's self-inquiry. Asking "What/who am I really?" is a way of diverting attention away from the "me", which is simply mental activity, and back onto consciousness itself.

ET's "watching the mouse hole" is an excellent way of re-cognizing consciousness. Pay very close attention to the arising of the next thought. If you are the author of thought you would automatically know what thought is coming next. But because there is no "you" creating thought, each new thought will be a surprise. You can't tell what your next thought will be about, but what happens is that when a thought comes the tendency is for the egoic sense to quickly resurface and retrieve associated memories, and the next thing you know you are lost in thought stream/story lines again.

What's most important is recognizing the consciousness in which thoughts arise, not "how to watch thoughts".
"Miss Kelly, perhaps you'd like this flower. I seem to have misplaced my buttonhole ... Miss Kelly, you know, when you wear my flower you make it look beautiful." Elwood P. Dowd
---

seekerjon
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:17 pm

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by seekerjon » Mon Dec 03, 2007 5:49 pm

Thanks for your insight kiki I have read many of your posts and you have some great insight. I got the whole idea from labeling my thoughts "thinking" from Buddhism they say when a thought arises say "thinking" and return to your main focus such as sensations or whatever that may be. I know I am having greater success thought because the thoughts that bothered me before I just feel them in me every time they arise and just focus on the feeling and I do feel a little lighter.

dubhasa
Posts: 64
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2007 5:28 pm

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by dubhasa » Mon Dec 03, 2007 6:22 pm

kiki wrote:
ET's "watching the mouse hole" is an excellent way of re-cognizing consciousness. Pay very close attention to the arising of the next thought. If you are the author of thought you would automatically know what thought is coming next. But because there is no "you" creating thought, each new thought will be a surprise. You can't tell what your next thought will be about, but what happens is that when a thought comes the tendency is for the egoic sense to quickly resurface and retrieve associated memories, and the next thing you know you are lost in thought stream/story lines again.
What's most important is recognizing the consciousness in which thoughts arise, not "how to watch thoughts".
What a wonderful explanation. I have never understood this aspect before. You are so right kiki. If I am thinking, I would know my next thought. Similarly If I am authoring my life, I would know what my next step is.

But I don't. As far as my experience go, I can only KNOW in NOW. That too only while it is happening. So, in the NOW, there is only knowing, because thought has some latency.. delay. That means whenever thought arrives, it is already too late and event has become a memory. That means if I have a doubt whether I am in the NOW, litmus test is, whether there is a KNOWing or thinking about it. Since both can't exist simultaneously, NOW can contain only KNOWING not Thinking.

Hmm!

User avatar
tikey
Posts: 345
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2007 11:40 pm
Location: Warsaw, Poland, Middle East Europe

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by tikey » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:28 pm

Hey, I'd like you to use some imagination. Imagine that your brain is an aquarium and thought's are the fishes inside it. And now let's imagine that
the fishes swim all around aquarium... and you watch them... and every time a fish touches the border of aquarium(for example a glass wall) it means
that it touches the surface of your brain and a consequence of that is a magnetic impulse which is emotion. If you wan't to
be not reactive to thoughts treat them as fishes which never "touch you", but swim through you without any touching.... that's important... without any
touching.... ok???
Im just a cloudless sky :)

seekerjon
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:17 pm

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by seekerjon » Mon Dec 03, 2007 10:38 pm

Tikey, that helped a lot what you said about watching fishes in an aquarium but when a emotion arises your just suppoused to observe it right? In the past I try to change the emotion and fight against it, or ignore it by trying to do something else. So basically just feel the emotions that come with the thought? Sorry for all the questions just my "mind" likes to doubt. Thanks again for the insight.

User avatar
kiki
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 4587
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2004 8:55 pm
Location: Wherever "here" happens to be

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by kiki » Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:35 pm

When emotions come simply feel them fully and without resistance. There is no need to analyze them in any way. Simply observe them, allowing them the space to exist - this allows them to discharge whatever energy they have and thereby dissolve. When faced with the choice of putting awareness on the content of the mind or the sensation of the emotion, go with the emotion. Close attention to their sensations will help to cut the associated mental links that play out in the mind. Putting attention on the story of the emotion only keeps the emotion locked in the body, so stay attentive to the emotional component rather than the mental component.
"Miss Kelly, perhaps you'd like this flower. I seem to have misplaced my buttonhole ... Miss Kelly, you know, when you wear my flower you make it look beautiful." Elwood P. Dowd
---

User avatar
Webwanderer
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6810
Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 12:03 am

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by Webwanderer » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:59 am

As always Kiki's answers are right on. But I would like to expand a bit. When the suggestion is made to observe, do not confuse this with a mental observation. It is far more intimate than that. When a painful emotion arises, allow it to wash over your senses unhindered. Embody the feelings openly (I don't mean to do so ostentatiously, for the hole world to see). I mean to do so without resistance or judgment.

Do not however make attempts to justify, assign blame or analyze the experience. Allow it full integration without spinning any stories in an attempt to make mental sense out of it. Depending on the nature of the energy it may linger a while or it may dissipate quickly. Either way it is a legitimate experience so long as it lasts. Honor it.

Emotional pain is generally associated with guilt and judgment. There is nothing wrong with either. They are just causative factors that generate certain experiences. To the degree that we resist the (painful) experience that our judgment has caused, the pain builds up until it manifests as distraction and suffering. Integrate the energy and it looses it's hold on us.

User avatar
tikey
Posts: 345
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2007 11:40 pm
Location: Warsaw, Poland, Middle East Europe

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by tikey » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:48 am

So when actually the fish touches the surface of aquarium it means that you react to the contnet... and as I see it, as I personally understand it it
should be like that: if the thought is false(although it arises in your mind), if it is some old mind pattern, some old behavioral reaction.... (I tried
always to avoid the "fishes" of that kind) I simply wellcome this emotion, I say "hi there, hi again, nice to see you" but still I do not identify with emotion.
(As Kiki said - I try to let the "space" be beetween me(my consciousness) and this arising emotion). But when there is a thought, which can be happy,
which can be true(sometimes your thought's may be true... if you forget something and you think... oops I forget that - it's ok, feel it, react to it and
make proper action - in this situation your "reaction" will be "healthly" and "normal"). But if there will be whole stream of thought's of kind "damn, it I
did it again, I'm so stupid, I'l... kill myself... or do something completely insane, and crazy to punish myself... you know, when sometimes there is
a histery in the mind - try to avoid those "fishes" let them just pass by.... thru... Without touching your inside... the surface.... without touching....
they will "swim" away.... and you will say with relief "phew, it was close, but this time, they didn't get me"... this time... be aware all the time
and you will be safe... and with time maybe those "strange, and dangerous fishes" will simply disappear as you not react to them. As simple as that...
Try that and I believe you will find some more comfort in your life....
Im just a cloudless sky :)

jgh
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:06 pm
Location: Madrid - Spain

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by jgh » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:07 pm

Thank you for this thread, it is being very useful for me although I didn´t ask the question myself. The way I live with myself has improved greatly since a few months ago when I started taking Eckhart´s teachings more seriously (I had the book for years and read it but only recently have started to work on it).

I often watch my thoughts and emotions as you all recommend, but still have it very hard when a very strong negative emotion comes (i.e. my mom´s verbal attachs or my husband being angry with the baby, things like this). In these occasions, I tell myself "come on, just watch de emotion" but something stronger than my intent just wants to be angry, or offended, or affraid, and drags me with it. To resume: I manage to "watch" my feelings and thoughts most of the time, and this makes me feel so free. But when these feelings are very strong, the watcher is overcome by the feeling and all thats left is the poor suffering and fighting old little me.

Any tricks??

seekerjon
Posts: 16
Joined: Sat Nov 17, 2007 5:17 pm

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by seekerjon » Tue Dec 04, 2007 4:47 pm

Wow thanks for all the great feedback you guys have some great insight. I think I understand this more basically from what I get from reading his book and from you guys is instead of getting attached to a thought bring your attention to the NOW such as body sensations and whatever you are doing at that moment such as sitting, walking or whatever it is your doing. Its actually very easy to put attention to the sensation in my body since I have been going through this bout of depression and anxiety I always feel all kinds of sensations in my face. Just makes it hard to feel it because by feeling the sensations in my face and not fighting them I feel like I am showing the world my emotions. I did have a great experience the other day though, my eyes were tearing up when I was shopping and instead of making a big deal about it and hiding my face or fighting it I just let it "be" and after awhile I felt this great joy and felt more confident. Well thank you everybody, I understand that this is a practice that you never really master and I have never quit on it.

User avatar
tikey
Posts: 345
Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2007 11:40 pm
Location: Warsaw, Poland, Middle East Europe

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by tikey » Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:50 pm

jgh wrote:But when these feelings are very strong, the watcher is overcome by the feeling and all thats left is the poor suffering and fighting old little me.

Any tricks??
That's exactly what I'm fighting with... or I just let it be....


Erm... my only possible answear for you is to make more space... I've recently been up to it... I listened "Entering the now" with Tolle and realised
that I got overtaken by those emotion where there is no "space" in my mind. You can say, when there is no space beetween thought's.
Cause only from space, comes all the good, healthly and positive reactions.... and emotions... I'm sure that when you understand what I mean
by that (it would be best if you listened to the same recording as me, I can share it on my soulseek(http://www.slsk.net) you will be able
to overcome those bad emotions... cause they wont simply be there anymore... that's the secret - "space consciousness"
Im just a cloudless sky :)

D'ray
Posts: 187
Joined: Mon May 28, 2007 7:01 pm
Location: Something Now-ish ;)

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by D'ray » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:17 pm

jgh wrote:But when these feelings are very strong, the watcher is overcome by the feeling and all thats left is the poor suffering and fighting old little me.

Any tricks??
IMO this is pretty usual. We tend to lose, or a better word forget out true being when old patterns are being "attacked".

Are you really overpowered by your feelings? Is the watcher ever absent? If you notice that you are feeling strong emotion, doensn't it mean that there is observing?

This ain't a trick ;) See, it is your ego who wants to get away from feeling "bad".
Surrender to whatever you are feeling and let them be as they arise. No feeling or thought is wrong, they just are. They are things that arise spontaneysly, but they don't have any real origin if you try to hunt them down.

What is real without a thought? Adyashanti
There's no "I" to become enlightened. The "I" can have spiritual experiences.

DON'T resist the RESISTANCE! The resistance is there. Walk into it. Feel it. Become one with it.

jgh
Posts: 22
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:06 pm
Location: Madrid - Spain

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by jgh » Wed Dec 05, 2007 9:56 am

Thank you for your very kind help Tkey and D'ray.
Are you really overpowered by your feelings? Is the watcher ever absent? If you notice that you are feeling strong emotion, doensn't it mean that there is observing?
What happens is this: at work when I have some trouble with someone, I used to get really caught in my emotions, and since I concentrate in my phisical sensations to those emotions, this is all changing and I am more "conscious" (not much though :lol: ).

BUT when it comes to family. Especially I would say my mother's comments. Then I start thinking over and over how unfair she is, thinking I'm not coming back in one year, why do I have this mother, shouldn't I make her feel real bad as she makes me feel. So even though I realise I'm doing all this and that it's all a waste of time, I go on doing it. I'm caught in the thinker. I try to watch the emotion, as I do with work issues, so I'm not identified with it. But the emotion has already got caught of me. Perhaps I'm too weak still and I have to go on trying.

My mother will give me more opportunities to try on it, I reckon.

Ives
Posts: 314
Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 12:52 pm
Location: Tuscany, Italy

Re: Observing thoughts

Post by Ives » Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:49 pm

jgh wrote: I try to watch the emotion... but the emotion has already caught hold of me.

Those kinds of strong, overpowering emotions (what we call pain-body attacks) tend to be less overwhelming with time, as you work on yourself.
At first just try to observe them as they overwhelm you. Later you may be able to see them coming and let them pass through you quicker and with less attachment.

Behind every angry action there's an angry thought; behind every angry thought there's a painful feeling. Behind every painful feeling there's consciousness.

Post Reply