Meditation: Witnessing the Power of Thoughts

What we think, feel and perceive has profound implications for our biochemistry, physiology, health and longevity. - Lyn W. Freeman PhD

I'm a devout believer that paying attention to our self-talk is vitally important for our mental health. - Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor


Thoughts have tremendous power, yet they are subtle, mostly automatic, and arise so rapidly that we barely recognize their presence. There is in our mind an on-going conversation which is triggered by habit patterns, pre-acquired concepts, expectations and ideas.

Becoming aware of our thoughts is an important part of meditation. In doing so, we gain perspective over our reactions, desires, hopes and expectations. We learn to take a step back and analyse our thoughts and their usefulness, questionning their authenticity and value. Connecting to a sense of “observing” our thoughts is a first step towards discovering our inner peaceful Witness-Self. We are no longer completely identified with our thoughts, but we are observing them, looking at them, and learning that they are not permanent. We discover that we have the power to change them.

This objective thought analysis also leads to an amazing discovery: our thoughts lead to emotions, and so we do have the ability to change our emotions just as we have the power to change our thoughts. When we take the stand of an observer, we have already begun the journey towards living with greater awareness and perspective. As an observer we get to see the results of our thinking; a negative thought has the ability to increase our blood pressure, can lead to sadness, depression, anger. Negative thinking is the # 1 cause of stress, standing above all other causes of stress.

“To remove pain-causing thoughts, one is to cultivate their opposite.”

Through the practice of meditation we come to grasp the inner realm of mind. We turn our attention inward, to observe our thinking patterns. The most effective way to do so is to focus on our essential Witness-Self.

“I’ve talked about witnessing awareness persisting through waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. But the Witness is fully available in any state, including your own present state of awareness right now.”

Through the practise of meditation our mind will achieve a deeper perspective, we will perceive more then the tip of the iceberg, but the entire iceberg.

The awakened state of consciousness is realized when mind becomes quiet and re-established in its source. Then it is said that the Witness-Self, our very ground of being, becomes fully realised. Yet, when this full awakening is not attained, the Witness remains mixed or identified with the mental waves of perception, or the conceptual mind.

So through meditation we learn to de-identify with our thoughts, and the more we are connected with our Witness-Self, the more we have the adequate perspective to change useless or stressful thoughts. We meditate to become clear and peaceful; yet without understanding mind and it’s power, it is next to impossible to make this peacefulness a concrete presence within our daily lives. This observation of mind is part of the analytical meditations, a part that is used in conjunction with the stabilizing meditation techniques (eg. mantra repetition).

Lynne Cardinal