to think or not to think

After posing questions to the meditation session participants, inviting them to reflect on those questions, and then sharing in a silent group meditation practice, a participant asked,

“You give us lots to think about during the reflection time and then are we      supposed to stop the thinking during meditation?  I’m so confused about  when I should be thinking or not thinking.”

Great observation.

To think or not to think.  Is that the question?

There’s nothing wrong with thinking or not thinking.

The key is to have enough influence over your own mind so that your mind is not compulsively running the show 24/7 and dragging you along helpless for the frenetic ride.


Whatever you are doing, do it.

When you’re thinking, think.

When you’re meditating, notice the thoughts, notice the desire to think then train the mind to come back to the breath or the body while letting the thoughts go. 

porch solitude


I remember a time when I first started meditating, many moons ago, I was absolutely thrilled for some quiet time to sit and think during meditation. I had created no space in my daily life to think.

Clearly missing the point of meditation. But this view of meditation-as-permission-to-think viewpoint made training my mind to settle even more challenging .  I was filling the stillness and space with thinking.  Intentionally yet unaware...story of my life!  


But once I introduced intentional times of non-doing and constructive rest into my life and gave myself permission to indulge in as much relaxed-body and mind thinking time as I could handle.  This allowed the training my merry-go-round mind in my mediation practice easier. Not easy. Just easier.

To think or not to think is not the question.

Being aware of thinking and choosing when to do it and when not to do it is the practice.  It is your practice.  It is my practice.  Still.  Always.

It’s a question of who is ultimately in charge. You?  Or your mind?


3 thoughts on “to think or not to think

  1. Wonderful as always Danette. Your closing line about who is in charge, reminds me of the question that sometimes arises during meditation for me: “Who am I?” Who is noticing that my mind carries me off into thinking? Then I smile slightly and let go of that thought also.

      • Practicing metta (loving-kindness) meditation, and developing curiosity about my mind has really helped me be amused by my sometimes playful and uncontrollable mind. When my mind keeps drifting off in thought while meditating I usually smile or even chuckle. That also allows me to not be upset when my dog decides to kiss me all over while I am meditating. It’s just a sensation like an itch or a pain.

        This has carried through into daily life, so that when I notice how I am reacting to something, for example pain or something yucky (e.g. I recently stepped in dog poop) I get curious about what thoughts and feelings I am experiencing and instead of feeling anger or aversion, I often become amused at the mind’s automatic response in terms of feelings, thoughts, and behaviour. After compassion including compassion for self, curiosity about my mind has really helped my practice.

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