“Thinking has become a disease. Disease happens when things get out of balance. For example, there is nothing wrong with cells dividing and multiplying in the body, but when this process continues in disregard of the total organism, cells proliferate and we have disease.

It’s not so much that you use your mind wrongly– you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you. This is the disease. The instrument has taken you over.” – Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

In my classes I constantly ask you turn off the thinking mind and bring yourself into a deeper state of awareness, but I realized that I don’t really describe what I mean. So let me differentiate between thinking and awareness. The concept is easier to grasp than the actual practice of it, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try :-)

The kind of thinking Eckhart Tolle is describing in the opening quote is compulsive thinking. It’s the thinking that constantly pulls you from meditation, the thinking that takes you from point A to point J without you paying much attention to it and without any real brilliant revelations or insights along the way.

I found a great description of this in a Buddhist text, Mindfulness In Plain English. They describe thinking as heavy in texture, compulsive, commanding and often charged with emotion. It’s sticky and often sucks you into it, to the point that you become unconscious. It controls you.

Being aware of a thought on the other hand, is light in texture. There is a sense of distance, of consciously watching things unfold, even if the unfolding is your thinking mind. You watch the random and often senseless trip of going from point A to point J, without getting caught up in any of it. None of the thoughts stick to you, so at any given moment you can easily and smoothly choose to place your attention else where, for instance on the breath.

There is an incredible freedom in being conscious. There is no getting lost in your mind, you are attentive to all its twists and turns and able to choose your direction. Becoming aware of a thought and not thinking a thought, it loses its power over you. This re-establishes the natural role of the mind as servant rather than master, allowing you to consciously live and create your life.