It seems that an effective way to disidentify with superfluous thoughts is to label them (admittedly, I have never tried it). For those of you that (just like me) are relatively new to Zen practice (but as Jundo says “we are all beginners”) here is a nice paragraph from the zencenterofportland website (http://zencenterofportland.org/html_...o_sitting.html)
Language has its limitations, especially when it comes to describing concepts like these but isn’t this “noticing” just another thought? This implies discriminating between “good” thoughts and “bad” thoughts, between a small self that “just thinks” and a bigger self that recognize this useless thinking. Is there such a distinction? What do you think? (See? I cannot get away from this word )“One way to work with the thoughts we have is to label them. This helps us to disidentify from them, to start to see them as just thoughts, not necessarily the truth. Labeling helps us to notice our thought patterns and that we take our thoughts for the truth, ("He can't be trusted because he hurt me"). It is a good idea to "label" your thoughts when you notice that you are just thinking ("Thought arising about such-and-such”). Make the label just a one or two word description of the thought, for instance “Thought arising about work,” or “Thought arising about Mary,” or "Thought arising about not doing this practice well." Labeling the thought helps you to step back from the actual thinking, to disengage from the thinking, to not take it for the truth, to see it as just thinking. It helps us to know that we have been thinking and gives us a little space to consider where next to bring our attention. When your mind wanders, bring your attention very gently back to the body, the breath, and sounds, like a butterfly gently coming back to light on the breath. You will do this over and over, bringing your attention to the moment, to the bodily sensations, the breath and the sounds, and labeling you thoughts when you become distracted or caught up in them. When our discursive mind, the Me-mind starts to think and we get caught up in our thinking, our judging, our criticism, our fear, our anger, and desire, we move out of the present moment into a story, a narrative, a movie-like thinking world that usually is set in the past or future. Over time we can notice that we are caught up in this thinking, narrative movie, and then we are able to more and more quickly return to the experiential life. We are also able to remain in the experiential world for longer periods without the Me-mind taking over. Over time we spend more and more time in the experiential realm and not so much in the thinking realm. In other words, we want to be living rather than thinking about our lives.”
I love the use of the word SEE here. “Seeing” is a spontaneous recognition of what is, rather than its mental representation.“Labeling the thought helps you to step back from the actual thinking, to disengage from the thinking, to not take it for the truth, to see it as just thinking. It helps us to know that we have been thinking and gives us a little space to consider where next to bring our attention.”
Beautifully stated! There is still “thinking” in this “experiential realm” but it is more fluid, more grounded in reality, and not initiated by fear, anger and greed. I can SEE that.“Over time we spend more and more time in the experiential realm and not so much in the thinking realm. In other words, we want to be living rather than thinking about our lives.”
For the longest time questions like these have been bothering me, mostly because there is no amount of reasoning that would provide a decent answer. I had (and partially still do) some sort of an addiction to thinking about thinking. Fortunately, Zazen helped to recognize that the the answer is in the apparent contradiction of the question. Yes, I still over analyze things, yes I am still bothered by thinking at times, but the more I sit the more I SEE where the solution to my problem is not.
Ahhhhhh…..it feels good to let it out like this. Sorry for the very long post and I would love to hear you comments.