The function of a thought

In the talk, What to do about Christmas, Ken gives us a little nugget. Often we hear about thoughts but not what thoughts /stories work to destroy-our attention. Once we're off and running it's hard to stop them. BUT, for me the construct that thoughts take me away for a reason has been helpful in dissolving those stories/thoughts. After hearing this talk I now ask myself, what experience am I avoiding by this story?

The function of a thought (from What to Do about Christmas? 00:09:37.5 - 00:12:20.0)

So what I would like you to do now is to take any one of the things that you thought of you regret and move right into the experience of regret. Not with a sense of chastising or beating yourself up because that is really not fruitful. It happened for whatever reason, and when you move into this there is going to be a natural tendency to start thinking about “Why did I do this” or “How could I have done something so stupid," or silly or selfish or mean or cruel or whatever. All those things are going to come up. But do remember that the function of thought is to take you out of what you are experiencing. It’s to dissipate attention. These stories are going to arise, but don’t get lost in them. And the way to avoid getting lost in them, the way to prevent that, is to be right in your body, to be in the experience of the body.

This is where we have the first foundation of mindfulness: the mindfulness of the body. Very, very useful. Now, that’s going to be in some cases a little uncomfortable. When you actually feel the regret right at the physical level. So if you feel a little nauseous or sick or really itchy or antsy, that’s the experience. Again, touch into it to the extent that you can.

As you do that you are going to become aware of emotions connected with this. Could be the emotions of regret and possibly shame and guilt and all of these different things. Just keep sitting in all of those and just let them be there along with all the physical feelings, physical sensations. And see what happens.

So you are going to have all those three components. You’re going to have the physical feeling, the sensations, the emotional feelings, and you are going to have all of those stories flying around. That’s what constitutes the experience. Just be in it. In attention. Totally awake to the extent you can. And let’s see what happens.