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"You are not your thoughts." Meditation Class

Out of the blue he said the words. The words that changed the way I think.
"You are not your thoughts." Simple enough, it seemed. He had been meditating for 30 years. He knew. He sat there in front of the class, humble, alert, white beard stark against the blue shirt. We sat in the circle that evening, the autumn sky already dark. "You are not your thoughts." (Silence)
No one raised a hand. Did they all grasp his meaning, while my mind splashed furiously in a ripcurrent of thought? No. "You are not your thoughts." (Silence)
If I am not my thoughts, then what am I? If I am not my thoughts, who could I be? I have spent a lifetime letting thoughts define me, coerce me, and restrain me. If I let them go, will I no longer be? If I give them up, where would they go? Would they drift to the breeze that washes into this room and out through the propped open door? From there, would they take on a life beyond me--my thoughts--riding the wind wherever it went? And then, when the wind dropped suddenly, would they fall? Would they slip back down to earth waiting for another mind? Were they, in fact, my thoughts to begin with?
The class was now in silent meditation. I sat there, eyes closed, focused on the breath. We create our thoughts--by experience, memory, imagination, hope, fear, dream, response. Some are simply random. Meandering thoughts. The danger lies there, letting the thoughts define oneself. Those amazing stories we contrive, those thoughts confining us to this place. The place we create. Our world. Thoughts slip past.
One by one, I let them go. The sea is calm now. In becoming our thoughts, we avoid this very moment, this self that is here. Now. This sweet self. This self washed up on the shore.

~ Mary Kendall

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