“Thoughts Arise Like Mountains”: A Poem for Meditation

30 Sep

If you practice any form of meditation or quiet prayer, you will continually struggle with the question of what to do with thoughts, feelings, emotions or memories as they arise, especially if they are strong or afflictive. The temptation is to quickly try to suppress them, which is an exercise in futility. Yesterday I wrote this little ditty as a gentle reminder to myself of what to do. Please let me know your own thoughts and experience.

“Thoughts Arise Like Mountains”

Thoughts arise
like mountains, moving;

Circumvent them not, 
troublesome or soothing.

See; not judge
as friend or foe.

Just see the Knower 
in the Know.

(c) Thomas C. Webber. 9/29/2010

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2 Responses to ““Thoughts Arise Like Mountains”: A Poem for Meditation”

  1. Basic Joe September 30, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

    Regarding “what to do with thoughts, feelings, emotions or memories as they arise, especially if they are strong or afflictive” I am reminded of a process of dream interaction I used years ago. In lucid dreams one can interact with elements of dreams. When having the classic dream in which I am chased by a monster of some sort- similar to dealing with the unwanted thought in meditation- if the dream is sufficiently lucid I can stop running and confront the beast to inquire as to why they are chasing me. So far the beast either communicates in some way or simply ceases to exist.

    Thoughts, feelings, emotions might be treated similarly. In meditation one can react to such incursions by reflecting on why they arrived (why you brought them into the flow) and what they might have to contribute to the process.

  2. texastom46 October 3, 2010 at 10:48 pm #

    Given the approach taken by psychoanalysts from the school of depth psychology (e.g., Jung), your suggestions on working with dreams symbols make perfect sense. I have sometimes used similar techniques when I have dreams — providing that I remember them long enough to analyze them (which is rare!). I will particularly do this if a dream leaves a strong impression.

    You are correct about the value of taking a similar approach to thoughts, feelings, and emotions, whether or not they occur during meditation and prayer.

    In a contemporary Christian practice called “centering prayer,” one is typically taught to simply take note of thoughts and feelings as they arise, without judging them as good or bad, only to return to your “prayer word.” (It is not my purpose here to discuss the ins and outs of this prayer form.) Despite what is customarily taught in this regard, I personally contend that there are times when it is best to, in fact, take notice of these “thoughts,” giving them their due attention right then and there. I will then make these thoughts, feelings, or emotions the centerpiece of my prayer and reflection at that moment. The reason being that I believe that they may be “begging for our attention” precisely because we need to reflect on and learn from them. I will also take them directly to God in prayer at that moment, even for healing if they are bothersome / afflictive.

    Thanks always for sharing your wisdom, Joe, and for spurring some important thoughts on my part. Maybe sometime in the near future I should take these ideas up more directly as a focus for a post. What do you think?

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