“I realized I don’t have to believe my thoughts.” - Tara Brach

“I realized I don’t have to believe my thoughts.”

Our mindfulness practice is not about vanquishing our thoughts. It’s about becoming aware of the process of thinking so that we are not in a trance—lost inside our thoughts. That’s the big difference. To train in becoming mindful of thoughts can help us to notice when your mind is actively thinking, either using the label “thinking, thinking,” or identifying the kind of thought—“worrying, worrying,” “planning, planning.” Then, becoming interested in what’s really happening right here. Coming home to the sensations in your body, your breath, the sounds around you, the life of the moment.

As our mindfulness practice deepens we become more aware of our thoughts. This offers us the opportunity to assess them and notice that much of the time our thoughts are not really serving us. Many thoughts are driven by fear and lock us into insecurity. During our residential meditation retreats, one of the biggest breakthroughs people share with us is:

“I realized I don’t have to believe my thoughts.”

Training in mindfulness allows our minds to have a choice. At the moment in which you pause and realize that these thoughts are not really serving me, you have the option to come back to presence. This process of choosing becomes more powerful as you realize how thoughts can create suffering and separation. They create an “us” and a “them.” They create judgment and end up making us feel bad about ourselves.

In those moments when you’re lost in thought, what if you could pause and say, “OK, it is just a thought” That is revolutionary. That can change your life!

Now, the key is that we approach this with a gentleness and kindness. Each time we recognize thinking and come back into the present moment with gentleness and kindness, we are planting a seed of mindfulness. We are creating a new habit—a new way of being in the world. We quiet down the incessant buzz of thoughts in our mind. We take refuge in what is true—the aliveness and tenderness and mystery of the present moment—rather than in the story line of our thoughts.

“Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter.
If your mind isn’t clouded by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.”— Wu Men

Adapted from my book Radical Acceptance (2003)

Enjoy this short video on Catching Fear Thoughts

For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com

3 thoughts on ““I realized I don’t have to believe my thoughts.””

  1. oneofthesethingscomesfirst

    Thanks a lot for sharing this! I struggle to realize the kind of balance you talk about, but I must say that I find it very difficult. What is exactly that remains when you clear up your mind? Is there something different from thought that is capable to give a sense of universal identity? How can you live without centering yourself on something steady and stable? Sorry, I know that I probably get you wrong, but I really need to attain the sort of inner balance you describe so clearly.

  2. Carla Senior

    I struggle with this idea of thoughts not serving us or harming us in some way. I see it in myself a lot but even though I know the thoughts are hurting me I still think they’re true so I keep having them. What do you do if you have harmful thoughts that you do believe?