Musings, writing

Thoughts are clouds

There was a really nice metaphor that I heard from a Buddhist teacher once. It sounds like one of those things that was passed down a chain of ‘telephone’ so who knows where it really comes from. Paraphrasing a bit: your thoughts are clouds, and like the weather, you cannot change them, but know that they will pass over; learn to observe them.

Learning to observe your thoughts is really challenging, but I find that I’m barely giving them room to exist lately. To stick with the cloud metaphor, I’ve just realized that I walk around with an umbrella of distractions. Learning to do nothing, to not escape from my own thoughts sounds like an interesting task. I’m not sure what I’ll find. So I’ve decided to task myself with keeping track of the parts of day that I’m tuning out (music, podcast, tv, reading, etc.) and parts of day that I’m not absorbing some kind of stimulus.

As I’ve learned from meditation, you can’t exactly set a goal and get there (anytime soon at least), but the attempt to observe something in yourself changes the very thing you observe. [I just saved you from a long tangent about Quantum Physics.]

Think of being afflicted excessive anger. Telling yourself to “stop being angry” won’t help much, but taking a mental note of “it feels like I’m getting angry again” each time you’re angry will reduce the length of that emotion and even the frequency that it bubbles up inside of you. I’m sure this maps well to some kind of behavioral therapy, but you get the idea.

So… my experiment: observe my distractions during one Saturday and one Monday (weekend and work days have different routines). Then lay this timeline out in some kind of visual and write another blog post postulating what all of this could mean.

Hey I really like endlessly scrolling through this blog of (micro)interaction GIFs, useryourinterface.