As a child, I realized that I am more than my thoughts, because there is another part of me that has control over them. During car rides with my family, I used to stare out the window and make a game of seeing if I could stop thinking. I could do it, but only for a few seconds, at most.
As an adult, I realize that this game develops a very important skill which is essential to living a more conscious and constructive life. We cannot consciously direct ourselves in a well-coordinated way without first clearing out the mind-clutter of unnecessary thoughts. If we want to improve our "use" of ourselves, we need to practice "thinking the Not-Thought" on a regular basis. This "not-thinking" is something very active. Consciously "not-thinking" is not a passive activity; our habit is to passively think thoughts in a mindless/unconscious way.
- Sit quietly for a few moments.
- Notice whether you are thinking or not.
- Ask yourself to stop thinking: "Now I am practicing not-thinking."
- You can drink in whatever you perceive through your senses, but choose not to think about it.
- If you have a spiritual practice which involves the repetition of a mantra, this is something which might spontaneously flow into the empty space created by not-thinking. The mantra then serves as a reminder to not-think.
- The breath can also serve as a reminder to continue the practice of not-thinking.