There’s one simple way to reduce the power of thoughts, and that is to simply notice them. The more you watch, the more thoughts seem laughable and irrelevant (most of the time anyway) instead of powerful and important. Here are some things you may notice as you start to notice those thoughts:
1) All thoughts are about the past or the future:
It’s impossible to think in real time, because thinking is a process of analysis. You can’t analyse something until after it has happened, so of course the thinking mind is always out of sync with life.
2) Most thoughts are either memories or desires:
Watch your thoughts for an hour or two and notice how many are either old movies rolling again or plans, desires and hopes for the future. As the thinking mind can only exist in memory or desire, it makes sense that the thoughts it produces would follow the same rules.
3) Most thoughts are irrelevant:
At the beginning of their mindfulness journey, most people believe that thinking is helpful, useful and supportive. As they begin to watch thinking as it unfolds, many are surprised to discover that thinking is 99.9% completely useless – irrelevant to the present situation, unhelpful and stressful.
So here’s an experiment for you: watch your thoughts for the next hour and answer me this: