Be the Space: Watching Thoughts and Emotions

When you hear people say “You are not your thoughts” or “You are not your feelings”, you might wonder what that actually means.

For anyone who is at all spiritual, you’ve almost surely heard that before and likely understand it to be true. But experiencing it for yourself can be a challenge, especially if you are closely identified with your thoughts and feelings.

To watch them means to detach from them and when we’re closely identified with them, this can almost seem impossible.

What do you mean “watch my thoughts”? The thoughts that we’re most intimate with we can take for granted and so not even notice them. They are so much a part of us. The same is true for our emotions.

Like a fish in water

A school of fish swimming through the water.
Does a fish know it’s wet?

It’s a lot like the analogy of a fish swimming through the water. If you were to tell the fish that they were in water they might not understand what you’re telling them. For them, they have always been in water and so their environment – their normal – is to be in water. Since they’ve never experienced being out of water (in this example) they have no point of reference for what it means to not be in water. You get what I mean😜

This can be the case with our thoughts and emotions too. If we’ve lived our lives thinking and feeling more or less the same way over the years, it can be easy to take those thoughts and feelings for granted and not even realize how intimately they are a part of us.

It’s usually when we realize that our old patterns aren’t serving us anymore that we yearn to make a change…

Being the Space

When I say “be the space”, I mean learning to embody the space from which our thoughts and emotions arise. That is becoming aware of our consciousness before any thoughts or emotions take up all of our attention.

Imagine a container (your conscious awareness). And in this container thoughts arise, feelings arise. They come and go. Your job is to become aware of the container and so notice what arises within the container.

When you do this, notice when you are attaching too much to a thought or a feeling. See if you can step back and become the space ever more so.

When you do this, you begin to feel a separation and a sense of relief and peace.

Over time, you may gain a greater sense of separation from your thoughts and feelings overall which puts more power and control into your life. The thoughts and feelings that have had so much control over you will gradually begin to weaken. With a little bit of practice, you’ll be less reactive and more able to choose how you want to respond to situations.

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.

Thanks 🙂

Featured image by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

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