WRITE 28 DAYS: MEDITATION RESPONSES – DAY 18: Working with Thoughts

I’m participating in Sharon Salzberg’s 28-Day Real Happiness Meditation Challenge again this year, and my plan for this blog series is to write a poem or reflection on each day’s practice. You can find all the responses on the landing page.

Sharon Salzberg quotes Thich Nhat Hanh today:

“To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment.”

She also speaks of thoughts drifting by not only as clouds in our mindsky but as boats passing by in a river as we watch from the riverbank:

“Some passing so silently that you barely notice, some so unpleasant that your attention turns away, others so compelling that they hijack your attention and carry you far down the river. Explore the thoughts arising in the mind, noticing when you’re pushing away or being hijacked. And coming back again and again to mindfulness, taking a seat by the river, observing thoughts passing by.”

The idea of being hijacked, or of being taken hostage, of finding ourselves in a boat suddenly far downstream from our place of interested watching, resonates for me. Today was a mixture, sometimes watching and waving, sometimes finding myself in a boat going over a dam. I appreciate sometimes being able to observe, aware but relaxed, like a holiday-goer spending a summer afternoon on the banks of the Thames, simply regarding the boats floating by, one by one, unmoored from their harbors, their destinations unknown, a never-ending parade of boats. Hello, boats!


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