As you observe thoughts, without the effort to judge or analyze or change, you might notice that thoughts slow down. The gaps in-between expand.
You notice also that many of our thoughts are of self-judgment. This may not be obvious at first–well the obviously self-judgmental thoughts are clearly self-judgmental, but you begin to notice that almost all of your thoughts are in some way about judgment and about self.
This self of course does not exist–that is, it does not point to anything real or present.
It can be hard to notice the self and judgment in thoughts because we’re so familiar with our usual thoughts, and thoughts are wrapped up in conditioning and beliefs. And of course we believe our beliefs.
This is a pretty clumsy way to live–it is in fact the basis of the psychological aspects of depression. And so we often wonder, what is life all about, what is the purpose of life, is there a higher meaning, why am I unhappy, why doesn’t the universe give me what I want, how can I be better, how can I be more successful, more outgoing, better liked, more interesting, more spiritual….Is this what life really is, just one damn thing after another?
To make this right, we embark on a program of control.
We want to replace our unworkable thinking with thinking that works. And so we chase after beliefs which will trump the other beliefs. It’s no wonder that we find things that will replace our current mind set so highly appealing. New beliefs are a relief. And so we chase spirituality and self-improvement and religion and positive thinking.
It’s so much simpler than that.
Observance and honesty–abiding in this quiet awareness, watching, watching thoughts without interfering or participating, can stop the tail-chasing.