A Year of Mindfulness – 5 – Thought Observation

Photo by Juan Rumimpunu on Unsplash

Another watch what you think week – how disappointing. This week’s challenge was to sit for 10 minutes each day and observe my thoughts. I’m supposed to sit and focus on my breathing, and act as though my thoughts are ‘passing clouds’ and watch them pass, without giving them attention or judgement. If I start thinking more into one of the thoughts, I’m supposed to challenge myself to find what distracted my attention before bringing it back to the present.

I tried with this challenge, really, I did. I have to remind myself that the whole point of mindfulness is becoming aware of your thoughts and thought processes, without giving them attention or emotional reaction. The whole essence of mindfulness is that you gain the ability to see your thoughts for what they are – thoughts. You’re not supposed to react to them, but rather observe and let them go. The issue is, when I’m trying to do this, I forget to keep track of what’s distracting me so basically just sit and think about everything, at some point remember I’m not supposed to be thinking but rather focusing on my breathing, and then repeat that several times until the challenge is over. I don’t feel rested nor relaxed, I just feel like I’ve gone deep into a rabbit hole of thoughts inside my own head.

I realised through my disappointment of this week’s and last week’s challenge, as well as my inability to actually complete these challenges easily, that I just need to see the benefits of these tasks in order to understand them a little more. I do have a genuine interest in mindfulness, and this challenge is designed to lessen anxiety and increase your awareness of your own thoughts. On paper it’s everything I love, but in practice I just can’t seem to manage it. It’s the same with meditation. At least in yoga I can focus on maintaining the pose and enjoy how strong my body is becoming. But tasks like this, unfortunately, I just find a little frustrating and boring. However, I really want to be able to do this, and I know that it just takes practice so I’m determined to learn. I’ve heard from many different sources that journalling has a similar effect to this, and although that felt a little unnatural at the start, I am now in a routine of writing in a journal (I’ve completed a whole 10 days!). I just have to persevere before I see the benefits.

Oh well, here’s to hoping (again!) that next week’s challenge is something more fun. Bring back those long lost days of being kind and getting an excuse to go to bed, they were my favourite!

Fingers crossed for a better task tomorrow!

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