|Publisher:||Hunt, John Publishing|
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You Are Not Your Thoughts: Diving into the Heart of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is having your mind full of the thing you are doing right now in this moment.
Do you find that your mind is usually 'somewhere else' worrying about the future, regretting the past, reliving conversations that have already taken place? You are not alone; most people are rarely in-the-moment.
We spend so much of our time lost up in our heads whilst 'out there' our lives are passing us by. When we fail to engage in the fullness of life we can get left with a feeling of emptiness, a void which we try to fill with stuff and people and achievements, yet it is a hunger that cannot be satisfied from the outside in.
When we have our mind full of the experience of life rather than our thoughts we can change the way we feel about our lives for the better. Stop thinking about what might make you happy and start living; you just might find that happiness is already here.
The majority of what we 'think' are thoughts we've had before, the same old, same old, going around in our heads. This kind of repetitive thinking serves no purpose, except to drive us mad.
So how do we get our minds to stop over-thinking and make room for some happiness? We need to swap some of our basic beliefs for new ones, so find some quiet ...
Living in the flow
Usually we are at our happiest when we are doing the things that put us 'in the zone', things that are so absorbing we don't have space to think at the same time. If you try to remember your happiest moments it is unlikely to be those when you were lost in thought but rather lost in what you were doing.
When we do something that absorbs our full attention this frees us from thought and it is in these moments, without internal commentary, that we are truly ourselves. You have the power to switch off the subtitles and experience life in flow, you have just forgotten how.
Read this book and retrain your mind to return to the now.
Slow down, be here
What's the rush?
Where are you going?
If you're one of the lucky ones your destination is old age and death.
If your mind is always rushing to be in the future and you hear yourself thinking 'when I do that I'll be happy, when I have achieved that I will be fulfilled' you could find yourself at the end of the road thinking 'what happened to my life?'
Now is all there is
The past is a series of memories and the future hasn't happened yet.
The past, good or bad, has already happened; there is nothing you can do to change it.
Every time you think about it your brain invents new versions of events, thinking back adds fuel to any negatives and this causes an emotional reaction in your body. Your body does not know the difference between a memory and a something happening to you right now. Each time you relive negative experiences from your past you get a rush of feelings and adrenalin; if you do this a lot you live in a state of stress of 'fight or flight' not to real dangers but to thoughts; this is not good for anyone.
Even good memories can trick us into thinking that 'life was better then' and now is not as good. This can stop us from fully committing to or enjoying the present moment. It can also leave us with a sense of loss once the good feeling of the memory subsides and a longing sets in.
The future does not exist, it hasn't happened yet and we have no idea what will happen. We might think we know what's going to happen, we might make guesses, we might worry and again set off a series of chemical reactions in our body. But the future is in the future so who knows; thinking about it is just a distraction from what is actually going on now, right now, and that's all you can ever be sure of.
Being is to be free ... of worry, of regret
Once we accept that now is all there is you can just let those things go.
Those regrets are just stories, coulda-woulda-shoulda's that never happened.
Those worries are imagined inventions. They haven't happened and even if they all did, will worrying about them have made any difference?
When we 'be' where we are right now with the fullness of our attention we set ourselves free.
That probably sounds too massive to believe; it's not easy but it is simple. To carry on listening to a voice inside your head that is not you, about a bunch of stuff that is not the reality of your life right now is madness.
Become a master of yourself
You are the only one you are in charge of.
No matter how hard you try you can't control the universe, things will happen in your life, good and bad, much of which you can do nothing about. You can, however, do something about the way you respond to life's events and that all starts in your head.
Now is your opportunity to learn the patterns of your own mind.
Make a start
It all starts without you really having to do much at all, just observe your mind. Let's sit here and just wait for a little thought or comment to come along.
Wait for it.
You might have to wait ages or you may have lots of thoughts instantly pouring in, just observe what happens.
Don't do anything, just watch the thought arise.
What does your mind want to do, jump on it and start thinking? Or maybe because we are bringing our attention to it you can just let the thought go?
Just observe for a while and after you've been able to observe a thought I will meet you on the next page.
Welcome to a new way of experiencing your life.
As soon as we start to watch our thoughts we recognise that we are separate from them. We become conscious that we are instead able to sit as the observer of thoughts, and much more besides.
We are bigger than the smallness of thought and vaster still than a simple observer.
It is then we realise how mad we've been, that there is a voice or voices inside our heads which for all these years we have been listening to. Once you have recognised this there is no turning back; how can you allow yourself to continue to be bossed around and made to feel terrible by a voice inside your head which is not you?
You no longer will – you are free.
From time to time throughout your day tune in to watch your thoughts, see if you can notice them arrive and still stay separate to them.
See if you can notice your urge to engage with a thought and turn it into thinking. See if you can instead watch the thought come and go. If you can't then try just observing where the thought wants to go; you may see patterns emerging, or notice whether these are new thoughts or thoughts you've had before.
Often the simple act of bringing awareness to your thoughts 'breaks the spell' of the thought and it becomes far easier to let it go. When we start to recognise repetitive thoughts we can see how we have just got into a habit of thinking about certain things or in certain ways.
Thoughts are just thoughts, don't judge them or worry about them; that's all just creating more thinking.
The Great Disappearing Act
To believe we are our thoughts is the greatest trick of the mind.
When thought stops where do you go? Is it that you disappear into a puff of smoke?
Or is that when the real you has the space to be magically revealed?
Mind the Gap
Cultivate a 'not minding' attitude to life.
Don't sweat the little stuff by not engaging the mind in it. Once we give ourselves space between thoughts and engaging in thinking then we can choose what we 'mind' about.
When we are operating on autopilot we automatically react to stressors:
Stressor > Reaction
When we bring our awareness to what is going on for us, we give ourselves the opportunity to notice when we are in a potentially stressful situation, be aware of our thoughts, feelings and what is going on in the body.
By switching from autopilot to manual we create a space in which we can choose to respond rather than react:
Stressor > Gap > Response
With our mindful awareness we get to 'mind the gap' between an event and our reaction, hopefully choosing to respond rather than react.
Be here now
Start to focus on the present moment.
What are you doing right now?
I am typing, you are reading.
I can feel the keypad beneath my fingers and hear it clicking away.
Are you holding a book or a tablet? Can you feel its texture or its warmth?
Are you sitting or lying down?
Can you feel your body against a chair?
How does it feel to be right here where you are?
Are there any sounds in the room around you? What can you smell?
What is the temperature where you are?
Can you feel the fabric of your clothes against your skin?
Don't judge any of these things, just feel them, experience them. If thoughts arise that's OK but as soon as you realise you've been distracted by them just return to your present moment.
Guess what? You're alive and this is what it feels like to be alive in this moment.
Feelings are just like the weather
Some days are stormy, others drizzle and sometimes the sun burns so bright it stings your eyes.
There is lots of weather and it is always changing. We can try and predict it but we can't change it; it's just the ebb and flow of nature and its elements.
In Britain we love to obsess over the weather, we talk about it endlessly, comparing it to what went before, what might happen in the future and judging it with terms like 'miserable'.
Weather is just weather, resisting whatever it is, complaining about it, fighting it makes no difference, it's still going to do exactly what it's supposed to – that is to be as it is, however that is. If instead of judging it we just watch, just accepting it as it is, we can find new beauty in all of its guises. It is only when we let it bother us that it bothers us at all.
When we learn to pay attention to the impermanence of life both externally and internally we are less hard on ourselves and our environment. It will usually blow over.
Thoughts are in your head, Feelings are in your body
Thoughts and feelings are very different things. Learn to separate them out and you will soon notice a change in the way you react to them.
When we think we produce feelings; when we worry with our thoughts a feeling of anxiety arises in the body. If we isolate the original thought and learn to separate ourselves from that by recognising it is not reality, it is not something which is happening right now, we can stop the feeling of anxiety developing in the first place. To be able to master this takes some training but observing your thoughts and getting back in touch with reality by paying attention to where you actually are allows a space between thought and feeling to grow.
Face it and feel it
There is nothing in this world that can happen to you which can't be made worse by thinking about it. To really deal with the events of our lives we need to face them and feel them rather than creating lots of thinking around them.
How do you feel?
Throughout your day check in on how you feel. Are you feeling light and free? Do you have a knotted feeling in your stomach? Are your palms sweaty or is there pressure on your chest?
Does any physical feeling sit alongside an emotion? Are you feeling relaxed? Fearful? Excited? Angry?
What has caused this feeling to arise? Is there something happening in this moment to cause it or is your body reacting to thoughts you've been having?
Thoughts have the power to cause a physical feeling to develop in the body. As we become aware of this relationship we can explore our role in feeding thoughts with a compassionate curiosity.
Under the light of awareness we see the possibility of a new type of relationship, a partnership of understanding and connectivity. This light may at times dim, obscured when we drift into distraction. Yet its shine can be brightened as we simply remind ourselves that the quality of our attention is the source of energy feeding this.
If you find yourself feeling stressed then you have some options:
1) you can engage in thinking around the feeling and witness how that usually increases the feeling
2) you can try returning your attention to something in the present moment, an object, a sound, your breath and see if the feeling disappears
3) you can focus on the feeling itself, locate it in the body and feel it rather than think about it and see how it changes
The first option seems to be both unhelpful and a waste of time. So it's up to you to decide whether to distract yourself or deal with the feeling head-on depending on what is more appropriate to the situation you find yourself in. We can very quickly retrain our minds using this technique.
Own your emotions
Your emotion belongs to you. The words or actions of others may leave you feeling incredibly angry, but your anger is you being angry – you are the one that carries that around, you are the one it makes feel bad. Once we recognise emotions as our own, alongside watching our thoughts, we can see when we are adding fuel to those emotions through our thinking.
Stressors will be stressors but it is our stress.
We've all had times that we've 'lost it' where an emotion has erupted from inside us and we have lost control of ourselves in some way; what if you never had to do that again? If we can put some distance between our thoughts and feelings, watching them as they arise, then we have a chance to catch an emotion before it takes us over; to witness it instead of reacting to it. It is not that the emotion shouldn't be there, to feel is human, but as developed humans we have control of our actions.
Emotion is what makes us human
It is totally normal to feel the full range of emotion – that's how we experience the full spectrum of what it is to be alive. Yet we deny ourselves the full human experience by turning away from anything uncomfortable; rather than accepting uncomfortable emotions we resist them and attempt to cure them, creating instead a continuous state of 'wanting'. In the Western world we rarely accept hunger or pain, seeking a constant condition of comfort; the underlying purpose of our lives becomes one of maintaining this condition and yet we are left with an emptiness.
We can blame other people for making us feel bad, however, it is our reaction to them that made us feel bad. You can catch this as it occurs, recognise the thinking this has caused and decide how you want to think and as a result how you feel. Often we have no power over something which happens but we do have power over the way we react, or hopefully respond; this is our greatest power and the way we exercise this will shape our journey through life.
There is no path to happiness, happiness is the path, and it is in every step along our way.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "You Are Not Your Thoughts"
Copyright © 2017 Frances Trussell.
Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
You Are Not Your Thoughts: Diving into the Heart of Mindfulness 3
Living in the flow 5
Slow down, be here 6
Now is all there is 7
Being is to be free… of worry, of regret 8
Become a master of yourself 9
Make a start 10
Keep watching 12
The Great Disappearing Act 13
Mind the Gap 14
Be here now 15
Feelings are just like the weather 16
Thoughts are in your head, Feelings are in your body 17
Face it and feel it 18
How do you feel? 19
Feeling stressed? 20
Own your emotions 21
Emotion is what makes us human 22
Use your energy wisely 23
Sit with it 24
You are here 25
Stop thinking, start living 26
Does a mindful life mean a better life? 27
Just Breathe 28
Still here? 30
Be in Peace 31
Right now there are no problems 32
Practice might not make perfect (but it reveals the beauty of imperfection) 33
Trains of Thought 35
Meditation made easy 36
Meditation: Counting the Breath 37
How was that for you? 39
Thinking about the breath 40
Outside distractions 41
How am I supposed to feel? 44
One Taste 45
Mind full or mind empty? 46
Busy mind? 47
To do: notice 48
Meditation: Bodyscan 49
Beginner's Mind 51
Learn the language of happiness 52
Turning inside out 53
Life in boxes 54
Find the happiness in each moment 55
Mindful Moments 56
Never wait again, what is it you are waiting for? 57
Building up your practice 59
Meditation: Counting the Out-breath 60
Set your intention 61
Meditation: Following the Breath 62
Make time for happiness 64
Transform your view of others 65
Everything Changes 66
Suspending the story of 'me' 68
Be true to yourself 69
Don't believe your hype 70
Change your world 72
It's OK 73
Meditation: The Power of Attention 75
Your life is the creation of your focus 77
Who are you? 78
Meditation: Who am I? 79
Your Universal Nature 81
The Secret Magic of Mindfulness: Now Is The Time For Happiness 82
Shine brightly in your knowing 83
A Final Note from Frances 84
How to Access Guided Meditation Recordings 85
How to Connect with Frances 86
Train with Frances Trussell 89
Your Space 90
About the Author 91
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an excellent book. It is well written and to vitally the point. I've read many books on mindfulness and this one is a fantastic reminder of all the main points of mindfulness without any fluff, it is just a short work so I was also surprised to discover some new concepts which made sense for me. Thoroughly recommended for anyone new to mindfulness or needs a refresh. I found the meditations easy to follow and the suggestions both helpful and easy to implement into my daily life.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Frances Trussell and John Hunt Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy. You are not your thoughts - what a concept. If I could do that, I’d be a happier little lamb! That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aspire to higher thinking. Now I know, I know, this is not a new concept but it bears worth repeating, or reading, over and over again. I seriously dove into the mindfulness/meditation world around 6 years ago and have read, studied and practiced a ton. So, I was looking forward to reading a new voice. Frances Trussell is based out of London and is a mindfulness, meditation teacher among other things. She has a meditation podcast called The Mindfully Happy podcast and this is her first book. It is small - just over 100 pages. I have to say that everything she discusses is right on the money. She offers many gems, or words of wisdom. The first third of the book she talks about mindfulness with the last two thirds focusing on meditation. This isn’t a trite book and it doesn’t come off all buzz wordy. She knows her stuff and brings up many important issues that can help us lead a better life. Her main topic is trying to quiet the voice in our head. You know, the one that talks to us all day long, reading from a script that was written a long time ago, that criticizes and beats us down. That voice stops us from being our true self. When it is talking we are either living in the past, or worrying about the future. The amazing thing is no one else knows what that voice is saying or believes it to be true. Only us! We probably won’t be able to totally get rid of it but if we can at least be aware and keep it quiet, all kinds of wonderful things open up to us. With awareness comes space that will allow us to be more true to ourselves. One of the ways of creating space is meditation. Trussell takes you through from a beginning meditation to more advanced ones, explaining the how to and the goal of each one so you can progress accordingly. She also provides links to her website and podcast so you can use these additional sources. I think the meditation part she did better than the mindfulness. You can’t just throw out a whole but of platitudes and expect people to understand how to go about this very hard work. I would have rathered she focus on one thing with mindfulness and then go on to the meditation part. Like I said, everything she writes is true and important but without guidance I think most people will be lost. Certainly, if you are new to this, I don’t think this will offer any chance at lasting change, or even start you on the road properly. And I have a huge problem with that. I think it is irresponsible to sort of drop all of this stuff out there and not back it up. That’s how mindfulness gets all twisted up and distorted and people don’t really understand what to do with it. I don’t think that if even offers inspiration that will motivate newcomers to go off and learn more. Because I better understand what she is saying, I could nod and agree with it as I read along, but it didn’t help move me along in my practice either. So not for beginners, not for experienced. One thing she does say, which bears repeating, is that there is no wrong and trying is doing. Just by the act of thinking about your inner voice can make a shift. I would encourage anyone to explore this idea of “you are not your thoughts” because all it can do