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Talking Meditation Unravels Painful Thoughts

961731_57760319There is a school of thought.

It teaches that the way you think is organic and fluid. It arises from your intellect, life experiences, emotions and feelings.

It teaches that the main way we are able to profoundly change our thoughts is either from a steady diet of outside influence (brainwashing as in a cult, intense propaganda, life-long “education”) or relentless inner work which can be repressive and rigid and stifle the freedom to be me.

It teaches that it is difficult  to change our thoughts and says most of us shouldn’t even try.

It teaches that our thoughts (especially those dominated by our feelings) reflect who we are, indeed,  they are our unshiftable, permanent, essence. We must simply accept this, it says.

After all, everything’s good, everything’s relative, no one thought, idea, or way of thinking or belief is better than another—we’re just fine the way we are.

Really? Then why are we so unhappy?

Go Tell That To…

someone suffering from obsessive thoughts that are causing her anguish.

someone whose thoughts constantly lead her astray from where she  wants to ideally, if subsconsciously, be.

someone who consistently pushes logic to the side in favor of near-total emotional rule and ends up in dramatic ups and downs in interpersonal relationships.

someone whose thoughts shut down and he becomes unable to control his anger and rage.

someone whose thoughts will not allow him to experience an emotion that conflicts with his logic.

someone whose thoughts will not allow him to experience a logical premise and draw a logical conclusion if it conflicts with his emotion.

Then, go tell that to someone who has indeed been able to work on herself and change her thoughts and has found a whole new way of making sense of her life and the world. She has more peace of mind and happiness. She doesn’t overreact, she has better awareness of emotions and stronger relationships. She is able to focus on what she wants to achieve because distracting thoughts don’t interfere or block her.

I Can Quit Thinking Negatively, It’s Easy. I’ve Done It A Thousand Times.

Mystics, therapists, and self-help gurus have long recognized that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts and we make a positive change in them with a little effort. In many cases, a thinking style is a habit. Although this may seem obvious to you, and you agree that we can change our thoughts, ask yourself: Have I personally ever actually tried to change the way I think?

If you’ve worked with positive affirmations, verbally repeating positive thoughts, you have tried to change your thoughts or beliefs. Sometimes, it works. Often, though, it doesn’t, especially if your mantra doesn’t match your modus operandi.

Saying I’m great over and over again will not necessarily make you great in the eyes of others or yourself. The details are too sketchy and the truth may be questionable. But fortunately, affirmations are only one way to change how we think.

Hisbodedus: Talking Meditation

Meditation, n.

—continued or extended thought, reflection, contemplation and/or spiritual introspection

One of the key tools used in the Jewish spiritual tradition that can have a profound impact on the way we think is hisbodedus, or prayerful meditation. Since it is a meditation that involves speaking our inner truths out loud, it can also be called a talking meditation.

Many Eastern meditations emphasize achieving bliss via connecting with nothingness. Hisbodedus emphasizes achieving personal growth via connecting with the Creator.

You can still do hisbodedus even if you don’t believe. For people who are uncomfortable with the idea of the Creator or God, connecting with the loftiest, most spiritual and moral spark within is a great place to start.

Walking and talking outdoors in nature is a good choice for prayerful meditation; another is inside in a safe, quiet space in which you feel comfortable. You can keep your eyes closed or open. You can walk, sit, or lie down. Although it is a good idea to begin with some relaxing breaths, verbally expressing what is in your heart, out loud or in a whisper, is the main meditative activity of hisbodedus.

You can begin by asking for help to “open my mouth” or “open my heart.” Actually ask out loud until you feel yourself beginning to open up. How will you know? You will have the sensation that you are ready to really access and speak a deeper level of truth than you ever have before.

By verbalizing your deepest thoughts and feelings, you take them out of the realm of intangible into the realm where material and intangible meet. You begin to actually change the routes your thoughts usually take, and charter new territory.

It’s like therapy, only you and the Creator are the therapist.






You can read about thoughts here and here. And see our series on Healing Your Thoughts, here, here, and here.





Talking Meditation Unravels Painful Thoughts

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2013). Talking Meditation Unravels Painful Thoughts. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Oct 2013
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