I Am Not My Thoughts

“I am not my thoughts, emotions, sense perceptions, and experiences. I am not the content of my life. I am Life.” – Eckhart Tolle

Eckhart Tolle teaches us in A New Earth to separate ourselves from our thoughts and emotions. ‘Uh…what?!’ you might be asking yourself. ‘How is that possible? Aren’t our thoughts and emotions the very things that make us take action?’ The truth is, many times our thoughts and emotions make us take the wrong path. By witnessing our thoughts and realizing that they have the ability to be powerful enough to take over and sabotage a perfectly normal situation, we can potentially avoid subjecting ourselves to a lot of pain and suffering.

Oprah, a Tolle devotee, has a discussion board on her website about this very topic. One of her followers astutely writes: “You aren’t suppose[d] to stop thinking. You are suppose[d] to stop thinking that your thoughts are automatically truth.”

This concept –that are our thoughts don’t have to be the truth (and often times are far from it!)– is essential to the practice of yoga and meditation. By allowing ourselves to observe our thoughts as mere “things” that temporarily pass through our brain (just as pain passes through the body and then eventually leaves), we free ourselves and reconnect to the body.

We’ve all heard the expression: “The mind is a powerful tool.” So powerful at times that it may cause us to jump to unnecessary conclusions. For example, have you ever gotten really angry because your loved one didn’t do something that you wanted them to? Did you then start to get carried away? Maybe you start analyzing past events. Or maybe you remember that one time that he or she criticized you over something insignificant…snowball effect and BAM! Ten minutes later, you come to the conclusion that your loved one is selfish and inconsiderate. Congratulations. You have just let your thoughts take over your emotions and make what should have been a non-reaction turn into extreme anger and frustration.

Judith Orloff addresses this concept in her new book, Emotional Freedom. Watch her PBS segment below (and watch for me at 2:00!):

It takes work to change old patterns but once you do, you’ll start to see a difference. Not only will you see how people respond to you in a different way but you’ll also experience less stress, anger, frustration, etc. The perspective you gain by transcending your thoughts and emotions will free you.

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