Don’t Believe Anything You Think (in Meditation)

December 15, 2008

When I first read the book title “Don’t Believe Everything You Think”, I found myself laughing. It created a delightful, meditative moment. I was driving and saw it on a bumper sticker. Probably I was caught up in some story about this or that going on in my mind, and seeing the bumper sticker brought a sudden, refreshing perspective.

Given the shift those words created, I wondered how they applied to meditation. With a change in just one word, I realized they apply perfectly to meditation, at least the style of meditation you’ll hear on our podcast. When it comes what we think in meditation, don’t believe anything! The way I’ve always put it is “let thoughts be a meaningless activity in the mind”. “Don’t believe anything you think” works just as well!

Meditation gives the mind the opportunity to disengage, like shifting gears into neutral. Meaning keeps the mind engaged. Believing what we are thinking and that it is important keeps us involved in thoughts. Of course that’s going to happen in meditation. It’s the habit of the mind. But in meditation we have the opportunity to let that go. Learning to let go of thoughts — to not resist them and to not purposefully follow them — is the art of meditation.

Years ago I did the Course in Miracles (the year of daily exercises in the Workbook). Although it doesn’t say it’s a course in meditation, doing the workbook exercises is a way to learn to meditate. What’s interesting is that the very first lesson has to do with letting go of meaning. “Nothing I see means anything” is the title of Lesson One. At the time I did the lesson, it made absolutely no sense to me. I couldn’t imagine what the exercise would achieve. Only recently did it occur to me that it related to the ability to allow the mind to disengage from its usual habits and surface appearances. And only now as I am writing this do I see how it was the first step in what amounted to a course in meditation.

So if you find yourself struggling with thoughts in meditation, just remember — don’t believe anything you think!


4 Responses to “Don’t Believe Anything You Think (in Meditation)”

  1. Angie Dodson on January 1st, 2009 2:26 pm

    I enjoyed your blog post ‘Don’t Believe Anything You Think (in Meditation)’. It’s amazing how just a few simple words read or overheard can change the way one thinks about how one chooses to live.

    Along with your podcasts, I’ve been listening to those of Dr. Eric Maisel, who presents a series called ‘Your Purpose-Centred Life’. In one podcast he says something to this effect: ‘The only meaning is the one you choose to create.’

    That simple statement changed the way I approach life. I realized that in all facets of life, we can choose to create meaning or choose not to. And this way of thinking applies to meditation too. No randomly occurring thought during meditation needs to have any meaning. We can choose to hold on the thought and create meaning or we can choose to let it go, let it drift away with all other thoughts, and return to the focus of meditation.

    By the way, thanks so much for your guided meditations. They’ve really helped me.

    – Angie

  2. Mary on January 1st, 2009 6:27 pm

    You are welcome, Angie. Yes, it is amazing how much can shift with one concept like that. The right words, heard at just the right time, can be very powerful!

  3. Jim Knuth on December 28th, 2012 7:07 am

    I am 65 years old. I have been studying meditation for years and it sounds wonderful, heavenly. I’ve read lots of books and listened to lots of podcasts and music. I understand meditation is a tool you learn through practice. I go through the motions, but I don’t experience the results everyone talks about. I fight my mind, which is telling me that I must be “doing it wrong” (I know that’s not true). At this point I’m trying to preserver, to make it a habit so the experience will happen, but right now it almost feels like it’s a duty. I’ll keep practicing, but is there anything you can suggest to get me closer to the peace, clarity, and simplicity I’m seeking from meditation, to help me enter this “senior citizen” phase of my life?

  4. Mary on December 30th, 2012 9:43 am

    Jim, have you tried the guided meditations on our Listen to Our Podcast page? Perhaps the Effortless meditation would be helpful to you. If you have tried them, what has your experience been?

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