Joseph Goldstein shares Buddhist insight into using mindfulness and meditation to be present with our thoughts and emotions.
Working with Thoughts
How do we work with thoughts? How can we begin to understand and shape the thought process? Joseph elucidates a quote from the Dhammapada in which the Buddha describes cultivating control over the mind’s excitable, uncertain, and clinging nature. The idea is exercising mindfulness and paying attention without judgment to see exactly when you became aware you were thinking. This continued process strengthens the mindfulness of thought as an object.
“One way to refine our practice is to pay attention to when in the duration of that thought we become aware that we’re thinking. Just notice that. Are we aware of that thought when it’s already gone? Are we aware in the middle? Are we aware just as it arises?” – Joseph Goldstein
Tune into an illuminating talk on using mindfulness for working with our thoughts in our practice and daily life. Check out Ep. 84 of the Insight Hour Podcast
Skillful vs Unskillful Mind-States (18:43)
In unskillful thought patterns, the mind has to keep an intense, active vigilance. With wholesome mind-states; however, such vigilance could actually be a disturbance. The Buddha pointed out that whatever we frequently think upon and ponder, that will become the inclination of the mind. What pathways are we strengthening? If we’re not paying attention to which are skillful and which are unskillful, very often we’re strengthening the patterns which lead to more suffering for ourselves and others.
“Frequent repetition of thought patterns, frequent repetition of emotional states, actually strengthen the neural pathways in the brain, which make it easier for those same patterns of thought and emotion to arise again.” – Joseph Goldstein
Open yourself to an entirely new toolkit poised at working with arising thoughts an emotions on Ep. 41 of the BHNN Guest Podcast
Mindfulness of Emotions (31:12)
How can we become mindful of our emotions? Emotions are complex phenomena involving thought, sensations in the body, mental effects, and many subtleties. Due to this multifaceted nature, emotions can be difficult to pinpoint, and even once recognized, very often the habitual pattern is too deeply engrained. Left unchecked without mindfulness, energies like afflictive emotions can be the ones steering your ship.
“If we can get adept, if we can become really mindful of the trigger thoughts for the emotions, it’s very interesting to actually watch that process because it reveals the conditioned impersonal nature of emotion.” – Joseph Goldstein