Caught in Thoughts
Mindfulness teaches us that “thoughts are not facts”. What does that mean?
On a walk recently my mind followed a well trodden path, as I in the physical world also stepped upon a familiar route. I was aware of my experience whilst walking. Fresh country air filled my lungs. I felt connected to the earth beneath me with my feet gently tipping from heel to toe. Each footstep a deliberate action. The sounds of birds in the hedgerows singing and scratching through earth and leaf debris. The distance hum of traffic increasing as I approached the flyover bridge.
Once on the bridge, I stood at the highest point looking in both directions. The loudness of the engines as they passed under foot jarred my senses. The speed of passing vehicles left be feeling slightly bewildered. The thought of this man made intrusion on the otherwise peaceful countryside. I did not pause for long as the thought of toxic fumes entered into my mind. My pace quickened until the sounds returned to a more calming influence.
Pleased to be moving away from the sound of traffic, I entered into the known field through the gate. Simply walking my attention remained in my body. I carried on. From the hedge came a disturbed bird call. (My interpretation) I stopped to see if I could identify the bird and the possible cause. Through branches and foliage my eyes searched but to no avail. I realised that my thoughts had begun to create a narrative around the sound. Images of suffering and distress filled my mind and my body responded. My eyes darted for answers and my heart rated increased. Memories of past suffering entered the mind arena. My thoughts journeyed to seeking reasons and wanting to fix and rescue in some way, the unseen situation. Revisiting an established pattern of thinking, taken there by the sound of a bird.
I caught myself in this place that my mind had summoned. Pausing with focus on my breath, I stood still. My attention connected to my feet supported by the earth beneath me and soon I came back to the present. Letting go of the thoughts and feelings of the unknown concerning the bird, I continued with my walk. Making a mental note to return to the brief encounter as an example of getting caught up in feelings and thoughts. The trigger of a sound followed by an imagined version of reality. The thinking mind stepping upon a worn path and for a few moments believing that the thought was a fact.