Why meditate? There are many reasons, and I may address some of them over time on here, but one reason is that as you experience the practice of mindfulness and meditation you are able to see that you are not your thoughts. And if you are not your thoughts you do not have to be controlled by them.
This can be useful to help liberate you from a cycle of negative thoughts, anger, anxiety, lack of self-confidence etc. If you are able to quietly focus on one thing (e.g. your breath), and observe any thoughts that come into your mind without getting attached to them, you are able to realise that you are not your thoughts, and you do not need to be ruled by them. If you don’t get distracted by them, or caught up in their stories and emotions, you can move away from having angry, negative or critical thoughts in your mind at other times during the day, not just when you’re meditating.
In a similar manner, if you are faced with a situation (in work, or in a yoga class etc), and your mind immediately says X, you can stop yourself and change the thoughts and approach, breaking your traditional pattern.
This happened for me during a recent yoga class (during a Jivamukti Yoga London immersion, which I’ll blog about later). We were nearing the end of the asana class and went up into shoulderstand. After some breaths I thought to myself “Oh I need to come down, my neck’s hurting”, but then I took another breath and realised that actually, my neck wasn’t hurting at all, I was perfectly fine, and it was all in my mind! A long time ago I did have a slight neck issue (chair collapsed under me, and no, I wasn’t overweight!), and have always put shoulderstand in my ‘least favourite’ asana list. But on this occasion, as I was so in tune with my mind and body (as a result of the intense class I’m sure), I was able to be detached from my thoughts. I was in charge of me, not my thoughts. I stayed up for the full 25 breaths. Yay!
So, the more we observe our mind and become aware of its patterns and ways of thinking, we can begin to change patterns that are unhelpful – whether that’s negative, critical or false thoughts.