Meditation can improve your ability to be aware of what you have decided to think about. We can't always control or predict what thoughts will arise. But we can be aware that we have fallen into a rant about some habitual irritant or into worrying about a relative. It can be a valuable change to ask Byron Katie's question (Is it true?) about the rant or to take a moment to remind ourselves that life unfolds in many ways and most of them are not under our control. But running parallel to all our thoughts and issues, our lives continue on.
Henry David Thoreau moved to the woods and wrote about his experience and ideas in "Walden" (free on Kindle). One of the most famous passages in this 1854 account of a bachelor who purposely moved into the woods goes:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to "glorify God and enjoy him forever."
Thoreau, Henry David (2009-10-04). Walden (p. 66). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.
When you think about your life, you will find you have lived, no matter how you spent your time. You may regret not weeding more or reading more but such regrets may well be wispy thoughts that omit the inclinations and reasons you had at the time. You could have weeded more or written to your friend more, but you had other goals and demands at the time. Writing about your life as it is lived, or photographing it or adding a new goal or activity you have been wanting to get to, may reveal some of the surprising complexity and beauty of the minutes and the years you have been in, are in, and are coming up.
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