Chop Your Thoughts in 2012!

Posted by on Jan 1, 2012 in Blog, Emotional Intelligence, Mindfulness | 0 comments

Chop Your Thoughts in 2012!

Terri O’Brien

Thinking is fundamental to human life, however, our thoughts are typically not consciously chosen. Let’s take the simple example of hunger. On New Year’s Eve, I got together with my family for pizza wars.  I made homemade pizza sauce using fresh spices and it was perfectly spiced and absolutely delicious!

Now it is New Year’s Day and I just had a thought—I should have a few pieces of pizza!  Yum!  The thought was in response to an urge that arose in my body. Not a hunger pang, just my body telling me it was out of balance. Should I listen to, “Have some pizza?”  Probably not. After creating no fewer than eight pizzas on New Year’s Eve with my family in our home version of the show Chopped, I surely don’t need more pizza today, especially if I am to meet my health goals for 2012. So how can we say “chopped!” to the thoughts that lead us down the wrong path?

One way to get a handle on your thoughts is to recognize that you are more than your thoughts. This is especially helpful when you have thoughts that do not leave you feeling empowered. Instead of immediately responding to your thoughts, you can learn to be the watcher of them. The watcher is able to see thoughts as a process of the mind, sometimes wise, and sometimes foolish.

Meditating, a key form of exercise for the mind, is one way to get better at being the watcher. While meditating might seem a little bit too “woo-woo” for some people, practically speaking, it has numerous benefits.  The latest research published at the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and the University of Wisconsin outlines a variety of benefits including emotional regulation and pain management. As a practicing meditator, I have seen these positive benefits in my own life. After just a few weeks of meditating, I learned on a physical level that I was not my thoughts, and it became easier to pay attention to the thoughts that empowered me.  I became happier and more connected to others.

If you want to dip into the world of meditation and mindfulness, it’s really simple to do. There are many guided meditation resources available for free. I really like the resources available at the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Resource Center.  Additionally, numerous books on meditation and mindfulness are available to help you get started. Two of my favorites are The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems by Dr. Ronald Seigel, and Fully Present: The Art, Science, and Practice of Mindfulness by Susan Smalley, and Diana Winston.

The New Year brings another great opportunity to get a handle on your thinking and learn to chop the thoughts that don’t work for you. Yes, chop them, and put them aside! In future editions, I’ll share more about how to keep your thoughts working for you instead of working against you.

I love to hear from readers. If you have any questions or want to share your experiences, please feel free to contact me at terri@coachingtocreate.com.

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