Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

1000 Thoughts

by Daniel Hertz

Each time we take our meditation seat, we can be sure that thoughts will arise. This is a given. Because of the nature of how the mind works, it cannot be avoided. However, through the practice of meditation it is possible to increase our awareness of the thoughts, and eventually slow them down.  With practice we can more quickly become aware of when the thought pulls us off our point of focus. Each time it pulls us off point, we can bring our attention back gently, steadily, patiently, and gratefully.  Each time we bring our attention back to the task at hand, it is a celebration of our capacity to wake-up.  It is something for which to be thankful.   Over and over again, it is done with gratitude to acknowledge the accomplishment.  Every time we do it, it is a small victory.  It is a small awakening. It is one small step on the path to Enlightenment.  Enlightenment is held up as something lofty and rare.  For most it is a process that unfolds naturally over years (or perhaps lifetimes) of disciplined practice.  But each time we become aware that our mind has wandered and it is brought back to the point, it is showing us our potential.  It is showing us that enlightenment is possible.  That is something for which to be immensely grateful.  It shows us we are capable of increased awareness.  Every time we take our meditation seat, we can see this possibility.  When a thought is brought back to the point of focus it can be exhilarating, knowing that we are on the road to freedom.  It may be a long trip, but it brings us one step closer.

We know that many thoughts can pass through the mind in a short period of time.  When someone first starts practicing meditation, it is common to lapse into 5, 10, 15 or more minutes of daydreaming, regrets, and worries. If someone can learn to relax enough to stop censuring, suppressing, or repressing the thoughts, often it can be emotionally shocking. Many people who try meditation drop their practice before they can get beyond this initial experience.  The barrage of thoughts and unexpected emotions can cause someone to get up and run away. I had this feeling many times and did run away a few times.  But so far I have always come back to sit again.  If we are determined to effortlessly bring our mind back to the point of focus each time we notice a thought, it is another small step up the mountain.  Eventually we can become aware sooner when a thought occurs.  We begin to notice the thought after a cycle of the breath, a half breath, or sometimes the very next instant.  That is progress and is something to be acknowledged and be grateful for.

Even if you have 1000 thoughts in an hour meditation session, it is something for which to be thankful.  It is 1000 more opportunities to wake-up!  If you are able to bring your focus back to the mantra or breath after you become aware of the thought, the practice time has been well spent.

Daniel Hertz (E-RYT 500) is an award winning teacher and counselor in the Minneapolis Public Schools and is on the faculty of The Meditation Center. He is the author of two Yoga-Meditation related books that benefit SRIVERM, the school in the remote Himalayas founded by Swami Hari.  Please see www.DanielHertzBooks.wordpress.com  for more information.



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