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3 Types of Meditation Part 2: Label Your Thoughts, Thinking

Let me ask you something: 


How's your breath?


No, I'm not suggesting you go grab a mint.  I'm wondering if you've played with the first part of Shamatha-Vipashyana Meditation yet: "Be with your breath as it goes out?"    


My last blog and podcast episode launched us into this exploration of three different meditation techniques I'm learning right now.  This first one I'm learning through the book Start Where You Are, A Guide to Compassionate Living, by Pema Chödrön.  


Call me dense, but it was only this week that I realized this is the first kind of meditation I ever tried!  My first meditation teacher, Sally Kempton, taught my teacher training group back in 2004 to label our thoughts, "thinking."  This is the second part of the Shamatha-Vipashyana Meditation. 

You can try it right now:

  • Sit and notice your breath as it goes out.
  • Try to keep your mind there with your exhale in the time before your next exhale.
  • When you notice yourself thinking, label the thought "thinking."
  • Do this as many times as you need to until your next exhale. 


It's a pretty powerful and helpful meditation! It helps you see how frequently thoughts arise in your beautiful monkey mind. This is normal!  We only need to increase our ability to point the mind in the direction WE want to go, rather than all over the place, as it is want to do.


Perhaps more profoundly, it can expose your internal voice for how it is, whether kind and compassionate or judging and harsh. 


This is so valuable!  On a journey towards more compassionate living, it must begin with self compassion! But who is this "self?" It's that voice that does the labeling, the analyzing, and tells you how you're doing.  


Is your voice kind?  If not, consider trying on a new voice.  Certainly catch yourself whenever you can and change the tone.  Give yourself a pet name, like "Sweet Jenny," or "Darling James."  It may feel silly, but it helps.  


Our world needs us all to be compassionate with each other, and it begins with kindness to ourselves.  


Give the meditation a try with me on this week's PODCAST.  


May you be kind and gentle with yourself, now and always.


Much love,



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