Talks and Meditations
July 20, 2023, Anne V Muhlethaler

Being With the Flow of Our Thoughts

Mindfulness of Thought

Khyentse Rinpoche, the Tibetan teacher, wrote:

“Mind creates both samsara and nirvana. Yet there’s nothing much to it. It’s just thoughts.”

Maybe one of the biggest hindrances to meditation is what is referred to as the waterfall effect. As soon as we close our eyes, with the idea that we will somehow find some peace and quiet, we realise that we can’t stop thinking. We feel like we are drowned under the torrent of thoughts coming down on us. Faced with this onslaught, we open our eyes, and at the first chance we have, we’ll tell our friends: “Meditation? Oh it’s not for me. I absolutely cannot meditate, I have way too many thoughts.” 

In this guided meditation, Anne Mühlethaler offers a metaphorical journey where we get to observe the mind with the mind, where we approach the contents of our mindstream from another angle. 

Becoming mindful of our thoughts is subtle, and not easy, but it is also revolutionary. As soon as we start to become an observer of the thoughts coming in and out of our mindstream, we gain perspective — starting with this big a-ha: we are not our thoughts.

As Anne explains, we’ll come into contact with the fact that while some of our thoughts are brilliant, others are not so useful, some harmful, others reruns (recurring constantly) or are even fake news. 

In this practice, using the metaphor of a river, we first settle and ground through feeling the sensations in the body before looking at the contents of our mindstream. We learn to notice the thoughts that are supportive, and we practise lovingly letting go of those that aren’t so useful. And using that muscle of mindfulness, we discern that we are the clear nature of the observer, seeing all that moves through the stream, but no longer identifying with it.