Meditation: A New Relationship with Thoughts

Demystifying Meditation: Understanding Your Thought Stream

Unfortunately, the most common misperception regarding meditation, and frankly why most people never try or continue practicing, is because they think that when they sit down to meditate, there should be no thoughts in the mind. Instead, when someone who has never meditated sits down to meditate for the first time, they are shocked by seeing the intensity of their thought stream. Our untrained minds are loud. For many, this interaction can be frightening. Often, some say, I cannot meditate – there are too many thoughts. 

The goal of meditation is not to get rid of thoughts and emotions but to learn 
how to move through them without getting stuck

– Dr. Philippe Goldin

Redefining Your Relationship with Thoughts

It’s important to understand that the mind has no other job than to make thoughts. It’s what the mind does. So just as we get hungry or need to sleep, the mind creates thoughts. It’s our identification with our thoughts that gets us into trouble. 

Meditation is not about stopping the thoughts; it’s about developing a new relationship with them and your mind. 

By coming back to meditation, we work on slowing down the thoughts and developing an ability to notice the pauses in the thought stream. We can come to a place where thoughts are simply there, and we don’t need to act on them. 

Never expect your mind to be free of thoughts just sit down and do it.

– Unknown

In meditation our relationship to our thoughts is as light as “touching a bubble with a feather.”

Pema Chodron 

Meditation Practices and the Path to Inner Stillness

The traditional method to begin this relationship is to simply sit quietly, with your eyes closed, and observe your thoughts. At first, the idea of observing your thoughts can be frightening and seemingly impossible.  Our thought stream is usually so intense that it can be overwhelming to witness it in this way.  Instead, we are training ourselves in how to not be involved with or attached to our thoughts. The more we observe, the calmer we will feel. 

These days, our minds are fragmented, with constant thoughts coming and going without pause. David R. Hawkins M.D. Ph.D calls this “mentalization,” similar to a “disruptive, unruly child who constantly seeks attention.” Hawkins further comments:  “The undisciplined mind has an observation commentary or opinion on everything. Who cares? Who asked for it?” Meditation helps us to understand “the source of the flow of mentalization, it can be transcended, revealing the silence out of which thinking-ness arises” (Hawkins 235-236).

Advanced meditators are able to reach a place where the thoughts slow and the experience becomes more of stillness. Thoughts float by more like the feeling of a cloud passing by in the sky rather than a tiger to be reckoned with. 

Let your mind spin as much as it wants to: do not try to subdue it. Simply 
witness the different thoughts as they arise and subside. No matter what 
thoughts and images arise in the mind, be aware that there is no concrete
material from which they are being manifested. They are simply phantasmagoria
of consciousness, and no matter how many worlds of desires, wishes, and positive
and negative thoughts your mind creates, you should realize that they are all
a play of consciousness.

– Meditate: Happiness Lies Within You
by Swami Muktanada (pg. 21)

The Gift of Meditation - Connection, Peace, and Calm

Beyond thoughts and beyond the mind is a place of connection, peace, and calm. This is our natural state. We recognize it when we get there because it is a place we have felt and have been to before. But oftentimes, we don’t know when and how. This place is a gift, and is accessible to all of us. 

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Abdi Assadi is unlike any other healer or spiritual teacher ever encountered. He is an expert in martial arts, and a dynamic healer practicing a diverse array of Chinese and Eastern Medicine, indigenous shamanic rituals, and meditation techniques. With a clinical practice in New York City for almost 4 decades, Abdi has accumulated a vast knowledge of real life experience working with several thousands of individuals, guiding them through the most difficult times, and teaching them how to understand themselves. One of the greatest things about him is he merges the human psyche with the spiritual psyche.

Steeped in deep wisdom and insight that is rare to find on this planet in these modern times, Abdi has an extraordinary ability in perceiving and comprehending human souls and their individual psyche. Guided by the divine, Abdi guides you to open up and see beyond your limited Self, into your own soul. His impeccable discernment enables him to unleash personal remarks that pierce through your veil, statements that you will never forget and in an instant alter your perception of yourself and your reality.

– Quotes from Shadows on the Path by Abdi Assadi:

All spiritual masters teach us that love is an activity before it is a condition – and that love is all-encompassing.
Page 18

It felt like I was coming off a race track and driving in a school zone. He knew, years before I did, that my speed was my way of suppressing my early childhood anxiety, and that only slowing down could heal it.

Why do you need to use all these words like God and spirituality? It is right here Abdi, all around you, all the time
Page 40

one does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.
Page 51

Ultimately it keeps grace out of our lives because we are using our will power to manipulate every event and person around us.
Page 74

His lesson, which I had begun to learn for myself, is that outside circumstances do not define our internal experience if we can surrender into them. Painful or undesirable situations will always arise; true suffering comes from our ego’s desire to resist life as it is.
Page 77

Note from Pernilla:
I met Abdi in the fall of 2014 and when I arrived in his office the first thing he said was, “It’s time that you stop carrying other people’s anxiety.” In the year that followed, my entrenched codependency patterns reared their ugly heads and I was confronted with a part of myself that I had never even known was there.

A few years later, Abdi said, “When are you going to start writing your book?”I looked at him in surprise. I was not a writer. My expertise was centered around creating crazy good Excel spreadsheets. However, I started writing and collecting notes about life issues and life experiences … and here we are a few years later.

Sally Kempton is a preeminent meditation teacher of our time.

She is an expert scholar in Hinduism and all Hindu texts especially in Kashmir Shaivisim. Formerly Swami Durgananda, she left monastic life in the 1980’s to teach publicly. She has written several books and is one of the most known and loved spiritual teachers in our time.

Note from Pernilla:

I met Sally at one of her workshops at City Yoga in LA in 2003. She had the most gentle and loving disposition, and I just wanted to always be around her. I was fortunate to have been part of her two year-long “Transformative journey” courses in 2006 and 2007 and many retreats ever since. She is the true representation of unconditional love and transmits intense shakti from her Guru Swami Muktananda.

Sally is the primary building block and foundation in my spiritual journey. Without her, I would have never found and stuck with meditation – the most transformative experience of my life. Without her, I would have been lost without a clue where to go next. Her wealth of knowledge of yogic philosophy and incredible understanding of the human condition is what makes her a force to be reckoned with.  She understands your depth and makes you feel seen, heard, validated, and deeply loved.