Wondering what to think about when meditating? You’re not alone.
Sitting in a room with just your own thoughts for company is an activity seldom performed in our hyperconnected reality.
However, the benefits of simply downing our mental tools and disconnecting daily can’t be underestimated.
Let’s investigate what you can expect when you begin this practice.
Upon beginning a regular mindfulness ritual, many people question their approach and whether they’re ‘doing it right’.
There are two common misconceptions:
- Beginners feel like they’re not thinking about the right thing, because they don’t feel any immediate, tangible reward from the practice.
- A completely clear mind is compulsory and if intrusive thoughts are present, we’ve failed somehow. This is far from the truth.
Firstly, our minds naturally generate thoughts of their own accord and it’s unnecessary to stop them. The presence of thought doesn’t indicate any flaw in our approach.
Secondly, even longstanding meditators experience thought and emotion during their practice. However, they don’t ‘try’ to direct, manage or funnel this thought towards a particular topic.
What to think about when meditating
In short, we shouldn’t be attempting to think of anything when meditating.
The practice, at it’s essence, is about non-doing. If thoughts arise, we welcome them. If they don’t, that too is an experience to be observed.
The primary point here to understand is the difference between thought and attention.
During meditation we should pay attention to our minds. However, increasing awareness in this way is very different from aiming thought at a particular object.
Rather than assuming the active role of the thinker and focusing its mental laser beam on a particular object, while meditating, we step back and become the observer.
Adopting this spectator position allows us to gain psychological distance, a vantage point from which we can view the contents of our mind.
As thoughts arise unbidden, rather than conflating them with our identity, we recognise they’re merely one facet of consciousness.
So worry not about what to think about when meditating. Instead, simply tap into attention to observe whatever arrives, moment to moment.
Transcend the minutia of the mind by becoming awareness itself.