You Don’t Need to Think to Exist

That’s a key lesson I learned from meditation.

You are not your thoughts. You are merely their thinker.

What happens if the thinker stops thinking? Not much, actually. Your mind goes quiet, but you don’t cease to exist. You just…sit there. Or lie there, because in fact, you exist without thinking every day – we call it sleeping.

Every morning, you wake up, and you realize: You’re still here. You powered down the infinite thought fountain for a bit, and it was fine. The machine is happy to turn back on anytime. Though not the main point of the exercise, meditation, too, will give you glimpses of what it is like to exist without thinking.

It’s a powerful realization to have, this separation of thought and aliveness. Usually, we equate “being alive” to being 100% immersed in thought. We don’t naturally grasp that you can have one without the other. It really makes you wonder: “If I can exist without thinking, how much of my thinking is even necessary?”

Regardless of what you believe the answer to this question may be, one thing I think is okay and even necessary is spending some portion of our lives just existing. There’s a reason one third of our hours goes to sleep, and we know recovery shouldn’t stop there. Sometimes, I even use “existing” as an official excuse for saying no to my friends: “I’m sorry, I can’t. I need some time to exist.”

I’m sure there are many ways to “exist” beyond meditation and sleeping. Maybe all flow experiences qualify. Whatever you find to be the vehicle that works for you, I hope you’ll make time for the “being” part in “human being.”

You are more than just a thinker, and your worth is not tied to your thoughts.