I am not my thoughts.
A common problem that people, especially spiritual seekers, have become more attuned to in recent years is the compulsion to think. That is, most people are unable to shut off their thoughts.
It's like having a constantly running commentary on life, a 24-7 podcast that only you can hear, and that never shuts up.
As if this weren't annoying enough, a lot of these thoughts are repetitive, petty, anxiety-producing, or downright destructive.
It's a step forward to be able to acknowledge a voice in the head that's almost constantly active. And for many people doing the work of spiritual awakening, quieting the voice in the head ranks at or near the very top of the list motivating them to continue with whatever teaching or practice they're involved in.
For many of us, thinking is a lot like breathing: It happens automatically, and you can will it to stop for a short interval, but not for very long.
On this journey, however, we're not going to walk the path of attempting to quiet the mind. Instead, we're going to cross this path briefly on a different path.
Please check in with yourself now and focus on the stream of thoughts that are flowing through your mind right now. A few seconds is all you need to do this. They're still there, right?
Now, realize that from the vantage point of I – whoever that may be – I am distinct from my thoughts. In some sense, I am standing apart from my thoughts watching them go by. So, whoever I am, I am not my thoughts.
Please spend a little time verifying that this observation is an accurate description of your experience. See how you are the observer of your thoughts and, therefore, you are not your thoughts.
When this insight feels true for you, feel free to jump forward to Insight 8.