Practicing Zazen is being aware of my thoughts without clinging to them. It May seem simple, it is not that simple when I try it out. Thoughts come, but they also go. Being aware of them, even with the aid of my breath, is difficult, and to my experience actually impossible.
When I do a straight forward Zazen I sometimes feel that I am aware of my thoughts. Actually I am not, but I become aware of my thoughts, retrospective. It is a fascinating discovery.
One technique to heighten my awareness is to make notes during the meditation. It is not my invention, the technique is well known and well described and advocated. I do it sometimes, and it is in such a context I have become aware of the fact that there is a delay between my actual thinking and the moment when I become conscious about the thought. I am never aware of the thought in real time, but I become aware of it when it reach my consciousness. And then I put it on the paper.
This is no big discovery. Science has shown that there is a soon between thinking and consciousness about the thoughts, between the moment s decision is taken and the moment we become consciousness about it. This fact is fundamental in the discussion of whether we actually have a free will or not. But when doing Zazen, focused sitting, this fact is experienced in a way that is rather convincing to me; there is a delay. I was not aware if when I tried to just be aware of my thoughts, but with the help of the described method of writing down my thoughts, it has gradually come to my awareness.
To me this illustrates that experienced reality differs from my conscious reality. And since my conscious reality is made up of much more than my actual experiences, shortening the span between thinking and aware thinking perhaps can bring me closer to reality as it actually is. And may be that this will develop more of my ‘beginners mind’.