It was not until moments after a long meditation, when I was lying in a pile of my own bliss, that I let go of the idea of becoming thought-less.
Ironically, that morning, upon returning to my body, I was thought-less—for a whopping three seconds. It felt strange, amazing, beautiful, yet also, fleeting.
For 10 years I had attempted to become thought-less during meditation. And if I hadn’t heard the saying, “We are not our thoughts” from almost every spiritual guru, I might have given up long ago. That morning, something changed. Perhaps I was ready to hear the truth, or I had just had enough of trying. Either way, it was time to give up.
Moments later, I received a download from the Universe. I saw the image of my thoughts as an extension of myself, only it was my child-self. When my thoughts were at their most abundant, she, meaning me, was having a temper tantrum. Ruminating, worry, fear were all manifestations of her trying to get my attention. To wake me up.
The Universe then asked me a question: “Would you follow a toddler into a full-blown temper tantrum, screaming along with her in the toy section of Target, or worse, would you give the toddler what she is demanding reinforcing the behavior?”
As a parent, I knew the answer was no.
I also suddenly knew meditation was never about becoming thought-less as a goal but about creating the space for self-reflection to emerge. And what was unfolding was one juicy insight—that the child inside of me needed some well-deserved conscious parenting.
My first role as the parent was to improve our communication. I tried to reason and was rebuffed. Then I got down on the floor and looked her in the eye. Gently, I said, “I hear you. I see you. You can do your thing and think whatever you want. You can go to the past and think about what you could have done better. You can worry about the future. You can think you will not have enough time to get everything done, or wonder if people will hurt you. I will be waiting right here.”
She turned and stared at me for a few moments, seemingly confused. “You mean you are not coming along?”
“No,” I replied. “But you go ahead. I am just going to do my thing here. To just be. Rest. You can yell as loud as you need.”
I got that she wanted me to join her or it would not be as much fun. I got that she was shocked. I also got that I was on to something.
She tried again to lure me in with our old pattern. She was not giving up so easily. She tried again and again. Testing me over and over, just like a child.
I did not give in. I also did not get mad or frustrated. She was doing the only thing she knew how to do—to be repetitive, get loud, even scare me into listening in order to be heard. I knew instinctively she needed boundaries, not a laissez-faire attitude. Responses, not reactions. Discipline, not control. Love, not neglect. And it was my job to give it to her.
Over time, we stumbled and fell, but we persisted. If I was not going to follow her down the rabbit hole, she stopped sniffing around it.
When I fully got that the little girl was me, we sealed the deal. That little girl was screaming for my attention because she was never praised for who she was, never loved for who she was, never allowed to just be herself. I simply let her be.
The little girl whose boundaries were trampled, and who was loved—conditionally—never gave up. She was that stubborn, amazing child who would not be silenced. The part who still wanted to be acknowledged and heard. I grew to respect her.
It does not matter how we get there: through meditation, connecting with nature, or following our breath. Take some space and we will see that our thoughts are us! They are not our enemy or something to run from.
Among other things, they simply need a little love, patience, and understanding.