Why should we pay attention to our thoughts?

By Aimee Hughes | Published: January 22, 2018 | Last updated: April 8, 2018

Our thoughts rule our lives, and we need to cultivate mindfulness around our thoughts so that we can be truly open and present in our lives. Mindfulness of thought means paying close attention to our thoughts with a quality of openness and nonjudgment. If we can attend to our thoughts with the energy of this loving attention, we’ll begin to see our thoughts for what they are. They’re just thoughts, and they come and go like clouds in the bright, blue sky.

When we pay attention to our thoughts, we identify with them less and less. The ego and the personality are so deeply attached to all the thoughts that make up our self-identity. But this is mere superficial identity. Our identity – the one that’s always loving and deeply connected to everything and everyone – is unchanging. It lies way below the surface of all those fleeting thoughts.

By cultivating mindfulness of thought, we get to witness the thoughts. And the more we witness these thoughts, the more we connect with this unchanging essence of who we are. It’s like anything else: practice is essential. We can practice paying attention to our thoughts in every moment. We can also formally sit down and do this on a meditation cushion.

(Related question: Why do we journal our thoughts that arise during meditation?)

But we don’t have to do it solely during a meditation practice. We can pay attention to our thoughts when we’re doing yoga, when we’re taking a solitary walk in nature, when we’re in line at the grocery store, or when we’re in conversation with a loved one.

In fact, conversations are a really good way to pay attention to your thoughts. Notice how often you’re not even listening to the other person, but thinking about what you want to say next. This is a great time to pay attention to your thoughts, as you want to be as present as you possibly can with all the people in your life. Mindfulness of thought is a deeply profound art that can and will change your life for the better if you let it.

(Related question: Why does the quality of our thoughts matter?)


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Written by Aimee Hughes

Aimee Hughes

Aimee is a yogi and writer who's been practicing yoga daily for more than 21 years. Since a journey to India when she was 20, the practice has been her constant companion. She loves exploring the vast and seemingly endless worlds of yoga. Aimee has also written a book titled, "The Sexy Vegan Kitchen: Culinary Adventures in Love & Sex." You can find her at her new site:

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