In his book, “Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness”, Buddhist author, Arnie Kozak has a section titled “Might As Well Face It, You’re Addicted to Thoughts”. In it he writes, “This addiction is so pervasive…we probably don’t even think about the fact that we are thinking all the time. We may not realize we’re addicted. And moreover we come to interpret our addiction as a Good Thing, overvaluing, even prizing it. Why would we want to give that up?”
Don’t get me wrong; thinking is an important ability. Without our powerful thinking capacity we wouldn’t be able to plan for the future or learn from our past. Thinking is critical for survival in this human life.
So when is it a problem? When the “muscle” of thinking becomes too strong it can dominate and interfere with the experience of the present moment. Thinking also causes great suffering if we over-identify with it, believing we are our thoughts.
Connecting with the physical sensations of the body, including the activity of breathing, provides a clarifying contrast to the activity of thinking. Anchoring awareness in the body can set up a more balanced relationship to the activity of the mind, creating a spaciousness that allows freedom to unfold naturally.
Take a moment and try this:
Notice any physical sensations that you can: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen while breathing, the touch and weight of your clothing, the pressure of the earth pressing back up into your feet and seat. Notice how this is quite a different experience than any images or commentary you might be thinking about the body.
Exploring these contrasting spaces of body and mind, we can separate them in service to becoming more whole.