Mindfulness

Stepping Toward Peace by Changing Our Relationship With Thought

Taking A Step Toward Peace by Changing Our Relationship With Thought

Imagine that you are standing under a waterfall. The water pounds down on your head and shoulders and pins your feet to the ground. The steady rush of water feels good. At times, it feels ecstatic.

But often the force of the water is too much. It hurts. You want it to stop. You tilt your body slightly, hoping to find a gap in the sheets of water cascading down on you. You do, and for a moment the pain lessens. But then the full force of the water finds you again. The pain is intense. You feel trapped.

Now imagine that one day, for no reason you can think of, you step back from the waterfall. You had no idea there was a space behind you the whole time, a cavern cut into the rock that easily accommodates your frame. The relief you feel is immense. Your body feels light. You witness the water pouring down inches from your nose. The inches seem like miles. Now the water begins to flow from you. Tears of joy are streaming down your cheeks. You have stepped away from the steady rush of water, from the endless cycle of pleasure and pain you’d been experiencing for as long as you can remember.

Witnessing the Flood of Thoughts

We spend our lives immersed in a flood of thoughts, unaware that another dimension of consciousness is available to us. It is a dimension in which we come to know ourselves as something other than thinkers. By taking a step back, we become the witness of our thoughts. Of the millions of steps we’ve taken in our lives, this subtle but radical step may be the most important because it leads to a profound sense of peace.

We cannot think our way into this witnessing dimension. It only emerges when thought subsides. The mental images that pleaded for our attention gradually recede in the presence of our steady witnessing gaze. In this transformative moment we have stepped back from the flow of thought into the serene space of our awareness.

This space is not as mystical as it might seem. Haven’t we all experienced moments when we’ve witnessed the thoughts flowing through our minds without getting dragged into their current?

I Am Not My Thoughts

Have you ever quarreled with someone and refrained from expressing a hurtful thought that surfaced in your mind? How were you able to perceive that thought? Was it illuminated by the light of your awareness?

Have you ever sat on an airplane, minutes before takeoff, fearing that it was going to crash and that you’d never see your loved ones again? What stopped you from unbuckling your seatbelt and bolting for the door? Was it because you were you aware, if only vaguely, that the thoughts parading through your mind were a bit farfetched?

We experience these brief but revealing glimpses of our witnessing capacity without recognizing their value. We move past them inattentively, the way we might a Degas at a yard sale. But to spend one clear-eyed moment in this space is to observe that the territory of thought is limited, that it is easily contained within the greater space of our awareness. This flash of insight will awaken us to a new identity. By observing thought, we are born as its witness.

Changing Our Relationship with Thought

If we wish to dwell rather than dart in and out of in this vibrant dimension, we must do more than simply change the way we think; we must change our relationship with thought. We must become its ever-present witness to avoid being its ever-suffering accomplice. Helpful one moment and devious the next, thought is like a petulant child requiring our constant attention.

As thought’s witness, we are its master. We can summon it if we wish to bake a cake or split an atom, and dismiss it when it shows up uninvited. But for this cozy relationship with thought to last, we must keep it permanently in our sights. This will take every ounce of energy we have, and at first even that won’t be enough. We have been thought’s servant for so long that we often continue to obey it by sheer habit.

But in time our tolerance for suffering at the hands of thought will lessen. The pleasure will no longer seem worth the pain. And those isolated moments when we glimpse the chains and pulleys driving our thought process will begin to connect like stars in a constellation. As we step further and further back from the realm of thought, we will see it in its entirety and know that we exist beyond its borders.

John Ptacek, author of the article: A Step Toward Peace

About the Author

John Ptacek's essays explore the unquestioned assumptions that limit our capacity for happiness. They appear on his website On Second Thought. Visit John's website/blog at johnptacek.com.

InnerSelf Recommended Books:

John Ptacek's recommended book: Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle.
Stillness Speaks

by Eckhart Tolle.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book

Stepping Lightly by Mark A. Burch.
Stepping Lightly: Simplicity for People and the Planet
by Mark A. Burch.

Info/Order this book.

Planetary Healing by Nicki Scully & Mark Hallert


Planetary Healing: Spirit Medicine for Global Transformation
by Nicki Scully and Mark Hallert.

For more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

More Articles By This Author

You May Also Like

INNERSELF VOICES

illustration of a film strip with various scenic pictures on each frame
Designing a New Future for Yourself
by Carl Greer PhD, PsyD
In the physical world, things have a past and a future, a beginning, and an end. For example, I’m…
teacher standing in front of students in an open classroom
Becoming Passionate About Public Education Again
by Robert Jennings, InnerSelf.com
We are almost all lucky to have someone in our lives to encourage and motivate us and try to show…
Aurora photo by Valerie Pond, October 10, 2021, Yellowknife, NT, Canada
Horoscope Current Week: October 11 - 17, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
Flower growing through a chain-link fence
So Many Questions... So Many Answers?
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com
We go through life with so many questions. Some are simple. What day is it? What will I have for…
rainbow over a field
Give Yourself Time, Be Kind, and Heal in Your Own Way
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com
Unfortunately many of us have become victims of instant gratification. We want to succeed and we…
woman's head with a crack and with tree growing from the back of her head
Opening to a Whole New Way of Being
by Rabbi Wayne Dosick
Sometimes a pandemic—no matter how devastating—is just a pandemic. But sometimes— most times—it is…
Image of an open book floating in the sky with a tree growing out of the open book
Do You Believe in Miracles?
by Barry Vissell
Albert Einstein famously said, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing…
a rainbow in the palm of an open hand
Finding Silver Linings and Rainbows
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com
Be open to discovering the gifts life is offering you -- expect silver linings and rainbows, be on…
The Art of Letting Go
The Art of Letting Go Is Active, Not Passive
by Barry Vissell
Endings may not be so easy, but they are not optional in this life. There comes a time when a…
Why Marianne Williamson's Candidacy for President Is Important
Why Marianne Williamson's Candidacy for President Is Important
by Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com
How do you know something exists if you never hear about it? How do you know about the truth, which…
Hatred Is A Choice: I Hate It When...
Hatred Is A Choice: I Hate It When...
by Marie T. Russell
I find myself thinking on occasion, "I hate it when...." We use the word hate easily... We hate a…

MOST READ

How Living On The Coast Is Linked To Poor Health
How Living On The Coast Is Linked To Poor Health
by Jackie Cassell, Professor of Primary Care Epidemiology, Honorary Consultant in Public Health, Brighton and Sussex Medical School
The precarious economies of many traditional seaside towns have declined still further since the…
The Most Common Issues for Earth Angels: Love, Fear, and Trust
The Most Common Issues for Earth Angels: Love, Fear, and Trust
by Sonja Grace
As you experience being an earth angel, you will discover that the path of service is riddled with…
How Can I Know What's Best For Me?
How Can I Know What's Best For Me?
by Barbara Berger
One of the biggest things I've discovered working with clients everyday is how extremely difficult…
What Men’s Roles In 1970s Anti-sexism Campaigns Can Teach Us About Consent
What Men’s Roles In 1970s Anti-sexism Campaigns Can Teach Us About Consent
by Lucy Delap, University of Cambridge
The 1970s anti-sexist men’s movement had an infrastructure of magazines, conferences, men’s centres…
Honesty: The Only Hope for New Relationships
Honesty: The Only Hope for New Relationships
by Susan Campbell, Ph.D.
According to most of the singles I have met in my travels, the typical dating situation is fraught…
Chakra Healing Therapy: Dancing toward the Inner Champion
Chakra Healing Therapy: Dancing toward the Inner Champion
by Glen Park
Flamenco dancing is a delight to watch. A good flamenco dancer exudes an exuberant self-confidence…
Giving Up All Hope Could Be Beneficial For You
Giving Up All Hope Could Be Beneficial For You
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
If you're waiting for a change and frustrated it's not happening, maybe it would be beneficial to…
An Astrologer introduces the Nine Dangers of Astrology
An Astrologer introduces the Nine Dangers of Astrology
by Tracy Marks
Astrology is a powerful art, capable of enhancing our lives by enabling us to understand our own…

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeeliwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptroruesswsvthtrukurvi

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.