Do You Get Lost in Thought?
A hopeless maze
What’s your favourite activity? What do you do the most?
My favorite activity is thinking. I never stop. Even when I’m asleep, my mind weaves dreams and occasional nightmares. And sometimes I wake up with a new thought that’s never been thought by anyone else in the whole history of humankind, and I jot it down on a little pad I have by my bed for such occurrences.
Have you ever tried to stop thinking? I have. It can’t be done. Maybe one day I’ll climb a holy mountain that’s so high the temperature at the top will freeze my brain and all synaptic activity will cease. Then I’ll be enlightened. Or not.
In Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation, Sharon Salzberg wrote:
We don’t want to stop our thoughts but to change our relationship with them — to be more present and aware when we’re thinking. If we’re aware of what we’re thinking, if we see clearly what’s going on in our minds, then we can choose whether and how to act on our thoughts.
This sounds easier than climbing so high my brain freezes. I don’t have to stop thinking, just change my relationship with my thoughts.
What is my relationship with my thoughts?
I tend to think that every thought I have is true. My thoughts are the right thoughts. If your thoughts differ from mine, then yours are definitely wrong — because mine are right. What I think is a perfect reflection of reality.
My thoughts are endless. No matter what I’m doing, there they are, whizzing around my head like mini souped-up Harleys. I sit in the garden on a Sunday and my brain is as busy as the bees I see, flitting to thoughts about work, the kids, the car, the e-book I can’t figure out how to create, a possible solution to the latest world crisis, and what I’d have to pack to climb that high holy mountain.
My thoughts are repetitive. How many times have I fumed as I recalled what someone said at my wedding forty-five years ago? Who was the fool who said you could write an e-book in 24 hours? How often do I have to mentally repeat what my mother said to me when I was eight? Who was the numbskull who said you could write an e-book in 24 hours? Why do I keep re-living a pathetic boss-worker relationship I had years ago? When will I stop regretting the times I failed to be a perfect mother? Now, who was that nincompoop who said you could write an e-book in 24 hours?
If I met someone who was bigoted, never stopped talking and kept repeating the same stories over and over again, I wouldn’t make them my friend. I’d run a hundred miles to get away, even if I was wearing tight shoes. So why do I cling so insistently to my bigoted, endless, repetitive thoughts?
It’s just a lifelong habit.
In the foreword to The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening by Steve Taylor, Eckhart Tolle wrote about the evolutionary process of human beings becoming more conscious:
If I had to put it [spiritual awakening] in a nutshell, I would define it as “disidentification from thinking.” When you realize that the voice in your head, your incessant compulsive thinking, is not who you are, then you have begun to awaken.
So, according to Tolle, my favourite activity — thinking — is getting in the way of my evolutionary development!
It’s time for me to join the evolutionary process of becoming more conscious. I need to stop thinking my thoughts are me. I’m more than my thoughts. Some thoughts are useful. They keep me alive, on time and on track. But most of them are incessant, compulsive and a waste of time.
Further on in the foreword Tolle wrote:
You haven’t fallen below thought; you have risen above it. Now you can use thought instead of being used by it.
Salzberg and Tolle are telling me to change my relationship with my thoughts.
It’s time I became aware of my thoughts, not carried away by them.
It’s time I used them, rather than being abused by them.
With love, Marlane
Mindfulness releases you from incessant thoughts. Take the free 7 Day Mindfulness Challenge!
First published on Medium.com/change-your-mind