Thoughts are one of the biggest distractions to a meditation practice. Most people experience thoughts all day long, rarely experience a moment without thoughts.
Yet quieting the mind is the great aim of any meditation practice.
So the question is this: How do we manage our thoughts such that we quiet our minds?
I want to propose two approaches to managing our thoughts, and you must perform both approaches in tandem, as if each approach occupies a separate end of a scale.
1. Let the thoughts come!
Simply allow your thoughts to arise naturally and spontaneously, and avoid imposing any opposition on them. Simply place your awareness on them.
This is because you don’t want to suppress or repress any subconscious or unconscious material. You don’t want anything in the deepest and furthest reaches of your mind to remain stuck, out of your awareness. The only way to access this stuck material is to allow it to flow forth naturally into your awareness.
Let’s say there is a negative memory, a residual impression, in your life that you have repressed, that you have cast outside of your conscious awareness, but that nevertheless exerts a strong influence on your life. The only way to release that memory is to allow is to flow forth during meditation from the deeper parts of your mind.
2. Let the thoughts go!
Simply allow thoughts to disappear of their own accord, and avoid clinging to them. Penetrate them with laser-like awareness.
Imagine that your thoughts are little bugs, flowers, or leaves floating on the surface of a stream. Watch the thoughts as you would watch these objects flowing one after another, until they gradually disapear from your view.