The yin & yang of mindful thinking

Dear Mindful Enquirer,

Managing your basic thinking processes is one of the most important life-skills that you can develop. The article below explores one simple mindfulness method that can really help!

In the spirit of the thought filled journey,


The Yin and Yang of mindful thinking

As I continue to coach people in the art of mindful thinking it continues to strike me how tricky people find basic positive thinking and care of the thinking mind. This short article is an attempt to explain in simple, practical terms how to think in a way that supports our happiness and wellbeing at the same time as taking care of wounded, negative or challenging thoughts that arise.
The basic principle of this practice is this; deliberately think two constructive thoughts, and then acknowledge a more negative or challenging thought. So, if I take myself right now as an example I bring to mind two good things I’ve experienced in the last 24 hours:

  • I enjoyed listening to Ken Wilbur’s Full body mindfulness module on the bus to work this morning
  • I enjoyed my meeting with colleagues yesterday where we discussed our future plans for collaboration

I note and dwell upon these two positive experiences for a moment, letting my appreciation sink in. On the basis of this simple, positive experience, I then seek out a more difficult or challenging thought or perspective that may be bothering me. For example:

  • I feel somewhat run down physically due to my workload right now

I then spend a few moments simply being aware of, acknowledging and taking care of the feelings associated with this challenge, making my peace with it. Then I go back to constructive thinking and seek out two positives:

  • I enjoyed the conversation I had with my daughter last night
  • I feel grateful for the fact that I can help the healing of some niggling sports injuries I have using mindfulness (great skill to have at my disposal)

I dwell upon these thoughts and the feelings associated with them, so that my sense of my world being basically ‘good’ is re-enforced. Then I deliberately seek out a troubled part of my mind to take care of.  Looking at my mind as an example right now:

  • I feel sad that I don’t have more time to devote to environmental concerns, or to spend more time in and with nature

Again, I mindfully acknowledge that thought, consciously taking care of the feelings associated with it, approaching it with compassion.

And so it goes on. Whenever there is a spare moment I come back to this mindfulness of thoughts; deliberately seeking out and enjoying two constructive thoughts before I then look for a challenging thought/perspective to take care of and process consciously. If I do this mindfully through-out the day, then my mind is going to really start to feel strong and resilient, as my reality is increasingly experienced through the perspective of my positive thoughts, and any challenging thoughts and feelings within me are made to feel supported and cared for (as opposed to feared, rejected or indulged in). One thing that I notice about this practice is that it really affects my physical energy quite tangibly, there is no doubt that having a strong mind helps the body to feel strong to a certain extent and degree!
Like my other integral mindfulness practices, this can be done as a sitting down exercise (even a written one using a note pad), or simply something to be mindful of as you are going about your daily activities.

© Toby Ouvry 2016, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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