Last night, I had a very difficult time getting to sleep. I was quite tired, as I hadn’t slept much the night before, but I couldn’t turn off my brain. My thoughts continued to race, and I could not quiet them. There was nothing actually preventing me from sleeping – I wasn’t particularly worried about anything, nor had I been drinking caffeine. It was simply the clatter of my noisy thoughts preventing me from relaxing and winding down.
This led me to think about (yes, more thoughts!) the tangible impacts that thoughts can have. Thoughts are real, of course, but they do not always spring from an external reality. They are formed in our minds, often as the result of insecurities, anxieties, or merely being too wired, as I was last night. Yet their effects can be all too real. Negative thought patterns can cause us hold ourselves back in many areas of life. They can make us feel afraid, inadequate , or insecure. Yet the thoughts themselves are nothing more than mental formations.
It is for that reason that meditation is important. Gaining the ability to examine our thoughts and recognize them for what they are allows us to determine which thoughts are constructive and which are not. Knowing that, while many of our thoughts are well-formed and quite useful, many do not accurately reflect reality helps us to move beyond many of our fears and insecurities.