Awareness vs Internal monologue

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.
Iliad
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:54 pm

Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby Iliad » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:11 pm

Hey there,


I'm someone who always 'uses' internal monologue to express my thoughts or make my ideas clearer (for myself). In my head I'm talking to myself, because hearing ideas in my head helps me to make decisions and it gives structure to my thoughts. Without an internal monologue I don't seem to be able to structure my thoughts properly, and I have the feeling I lose a lot of 'brain power'. I'm sure a lot of people do this so I never really cared about it, until now. I've been practicing vipassana for some time. When I meditate, I'm fully aware of my surroundings and because I don't really think while meditating, there is no internal monologue. As soon as I'm finished meditating I start thinking again and my internal monologue returns. As a result, my awareness disappears. It's like I have to choose between being fully aware, and being able to think. My question is: how to combine thought with awareness? I want to get to the level where I can be fully aware all the time in daily life. Most people who practice vipassana don't seem to have this problem, but maybe that's because they think in a different way. So... any thoughts? ;)

User avatar
Wayfarer
Posts: 3382
Joined: Sun May 27, 2012 8:31 am
Location: Sydney AU

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby Wayfarer » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:55 pm

I'm very rarely without thoughts altogether. When I'm sitting, the mind usually settles down and becomes pretty quiet but even then streams of thought will start up spontaneously, before I notice that, and 'return to the breath'. During day-to-day activities, I have an active mind. I can think and evaluate, weigh things up, and so on. I'm in quite a technically demanding job, so I have to think about what needs doing. But what has changed as a result of meditation is that thoughts and thinking don't have the same kind of power over me that they used to have. I recognize thoughts as thoughts. It's like 'oh, you again. I know you.' Whereas it seems to me, without that element of meditative awareness, thoughts tend to seem a lot more real, almost like they're real in themselves. I guess that is why people with dissociation problems 'hear voices' - their thoughts appear so real that they seem like other people. But in my case, I just note that thinking is happening, but I realise that it is just thinking, just the activities of mind. I think that is one aspect of the detachment/equanimity that develops through meditation practice.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

Jinzang
Posts: 431
Joined: Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:11 am

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby Jinzang » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:01 am

Just be patient and continue to meditate. Seeing the empty and aware nature of thoughts is actually a high level of attainment. Before then your thoughts will decrease and awareness increase, but there will be some sense that thoughts obstruct awareness, as you have noticed.
"It's as plain as the nose on your face!"

User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1480
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby Zhen Li » Fri Jun 21, 2013 2:38 am


greentara
Posts: 933
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 4:03 am

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby greentara » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:02 am

Iliad, You seem to have the will to still your mind and advance your meditation. Not being a teacher of any sort, I can only point you to this quote which I think quite apt. "Such a condition is termed manolaya or temporary stillness of thought. Manolaya means concentration, temporarily arresting the movement of thoughts.

As soon as this concentration ceases, thoughts, old and new, rush in as usual; and even if this temporary lulling of mind should last a thousand years, it will never lead to total destruction of thought, which is what is called liberation from birth and death.

The practitioner must therefore be ever on the alert and inquire within as to who has this experience, who realizes its pleasantness? Without this inquiry he will go into a long trance or deep sleep (yoga nidra).

Due to the absence of a proper guide at this stage of spiritual practice, many have been deluded and fallen a prey to a false sense of liberation and only a few have managed to reach the goal safely.”

User avatar
maybay
Posts: 1604
Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby maybay » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:52 am

Hi Iliad
You can either try to block out the dialogue, or you should rest your attention on the dialogue itself. All the suggestions above are for the first. If you block out the dialogue, this is samatha / calm abiding meditation. If you give it the attention it craves when is arises, this is vipassana. So as long as you are purposefully ignoring your inner dialogue when it becomes the most obvious experience in your mind, then you aren't practicing vipassana properly.
Try to alternate between samatha and vipassana. They support each.
People will know nothing and everything
Remember nothing and everything
Think nothing and everything
Do nothing and everything
- Machig Labdron

Iliad
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:54 pm

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby Iliad » Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:58 am

Thanks a lot for your answers! I already don’t really emotionally react to my internal monologue. Often it just tell me: ‘Hmm how should I do this?’, ‘ If I do it like this, yes, that will work, because…’ ‘well, let’s grab a bite to eat’, etc. So in my head it doesn't do any harm (it seems), it’s just my way of thinking. Often I actually talk very softly to myself in this way. I like hearing my own thoughts and ideas, in this way they become things with form and structure which I can inspect and correct (if necessary).

However, because of the internal monologue, at the very moment it ‘talks to me’ my awareness of my surroundings and of my own body disappears. The idea of an internal monologue seems to contradict awareness. I’m going to try to create a larger distance between myself and this voice, by noticing it and then inspect it thoroughly while meditating. After reading your posts, I think that’s the best way to deal with it, or not?

By the way, I was wondering if you have this as well? I read about it on several websites and lots of people seem to have it. Apparently it actually contributes to emotional growth and the development of language, especially in children, so it doesn't seem to be anything bad.

Haha reading back my own posts I seem like a crazy person, talking about this ‘voice’ in my head :tongue: I’m not, by the way… my internal monologue tells me I’m not ;)

User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1480
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby Zhen Li » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:14 am


Iliad
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:54 pm

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby Iliad » Fri Jun 21, 2013 9:40 am


User avatar
mandala
Posts: 171
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 7:51 pm

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby mandala » Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:37 am

I think there's a common misconception that meditating = not thinking.

The awareness in meditation comes from noticing your thoughts - but then consciously not following the storyline. You can even label it "thinking" and then go back to whatever your meditation focus was.. body awareness, breath counting, visualisation, analysis etc.

If you're talking about what happens following meditation - well, there's nothing wrong with thinking and being logical! It doesn't need to be one or the other.. the more you meditate, you more you bring awareness into the 'out of meditation' state.

Everyone talks to themselves, it's just that some don't even notice it with all the chattering going on up there!
As for me, I even talk to myself out loud... just around the house though :P

User avatar
Zhen Li
Posts: 1480
Joined: Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:15 am
Location: Canada

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby Zhen Li » Fri Jun 21, 2013 12:15 pm


TaTa
Posts: 348
Joined: Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:15 am

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby TaTa » Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:36 pm

I think that one does not necessary exclude the other. I use to avoid thinking everytime i could but it was interesting when my teacher gave me something to reflect upon and i discover that by thinking in a relax, and focus way i was calming my mind as if i was doing shamata practice.

5heaps
Posts: 432
Joined: Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:09 am

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby 5heaps » Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:51 pm


User avatar
seeker242
Posts: 1204
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2012 2:50 pm
Location: South Florida, USA

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby seeker242 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 10:02 pm

One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

Iliad
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2013 9:54 pm

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby Iliad » Sat Jun 22, 2013 4:12 pm

As you can see, I'm a complete novice. I'm going to work on it, thanks for your replies! :smile:

User avatar
avisitor
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:03 pm

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby avisitor » Thu Sep 12, 2013 4:59 pm

Here is my two cents ... hahaha
The OP ask how to combine awareness ans thoughts.
I believe there is a slight misconception.
Awareness is you. Thoughts are just one of the tools you use.
Combining the two .. would mean that you want to be identified with your thoughts as yourself.

User avatar
LastLegend
Posts: 2857
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby LastLegend » Thu Sep 12, 2013 5:29 pm

NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―

User avatar
avisitor
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:03 pm

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby avisitor » Fri Sep 13, 2013 1:46 am


User avatar
LastLegend
Posts: 2857
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:46 pm
Location: Washington DC

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby LastLegend » Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:31 am

NAMO AMITABHA
NAM MO A DI DA PHAT (VIETNAMESE)
NAMO AMITUOFO (CHINESE)

Bodhidharma [my translation]
―I come to the East to transmit this clear knowing mind without constructing any dharma―

User avatar
avisitor
Posts: 134
Joined: Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:03 pm

Re: Awareness vs Internal monologue

Postby avisitor » Fri Sep 13, 2013 12:53 pm

Awareness is the state or ability to perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, or sensory patterns
So what good did this description do you??
You know what awareness is.
If you are asking who you are then that is a question worth asking ... hahahaha


Return to “Meditation”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests