I talk to a lot of people about thinking and feel like sharing some ideas with you. Of course all this is subjective.
When we communicate, we share experiences using language and words. Thoughts are units of data, and when you look at thinking process it's expressed in words, as if someone sitting in your head talking. It is generally assumed that this voice comes from a me, it is me that is thinking these thoughts and acting upon them. This me is the centre thought around which my story revolves. That is what the voice says.
People hear that if you can only stop thinking, all would be experienced more deeply and vividly and they would be more aware. I get questions asking how to stop the labelling, the never ending stream of thoughts. People try many things- meditation, will power and generally hating the voice in the head, because it talks so much.
But there is nothing wrong with thinking.
Thoughts are not a problem. Thinking that thoughts are the problem is the problem. See? This gets locked up in a loop.
Thinking is innocent and great tool in practical sense as well as artistic expression and entertainment. It is part of experience, part of the whole, no need to try to get rid of it. And you couldn't get rid of, try just sit for half an hour without thinking and see how that goes.
Believing in truthfulness of thoughts and taking them seriously is in the way of peace most of the time. Belief is thoughts agreeing with repetitive thoughts, it's a self reinforcing feed back loop that stays in the system until properly examined. What happens when examined properly? See for yourself..
I thought claims doership of thinking and action. But I is just a thought, like any other thought, it is not I that is thinking. Thinking is not what is done by you, it happens. Like rain is not rained, it rains.
Thought does not create experience, it describes it. It wraps experience and colours it. It is a misunderstanding that it is I that thinks and I/ me that makes things happen.
If instead watching clouds passing by you decided that this cloud should not be here and try to direct it's movement it would be pointless waste of energy. I have experienced once or twice moving clouds around in the sky and bringing in sunshine, that is a nice story that I like to tell myself. But is it true?
So rather than fighting thoughts, rather then hating this labelling process that goes on on automatic, thank it.
Seriously, thank the thoughts for coming, literally say, mind, I love you, you have been such great mind, working so much for me. I really appreciate you. You are gorgeous, beautiful, innocent mind!
Instead of going against what is happening, turn the angle 180 degrees and see what happens. I'm not going to tell you, have a look how this works for yourself. One thing for sure- the mind will respond. And you can talk to it as you would to a child. You don't have to believe me here, test if it works for you.
When you notice thoughts that say what should and should not happen, these thoughts are weeds in your thought garden, stop right there, make a mental note, see if the opposite of should is true too. These thoughts create more thoughts about what is wrong, notice them.
When shoulds are cleared, look up for wants. These are noticed mostly in certain areas- security, control and acceptance. The wants are weeds too, but somehow they are more difficult to let go, so with these spend a day or a few, take your time, catch that word WANT every time it is said or thought. Just make a mental note of when it shows up and in what situation. No need to follow those thought, just recognise it happening. And also thank the wants for coming. It is ok to want what you want. You don't have to do anything about it.
I called shoulds and wants weeds as these kind of thoughts have a great expansion potential, if attention is given to them, they grow into more thoughts very quickly and they are connected to 'me' thought. These are the thoughts that are basis for clinging and attachments. These thoughts trigger feelings. Shoulds are connected to expectations and expectations are in the way of plain looking. Wants are connected to feelings of lack and distorts the view.
It's not that these thoughts should not be coming up, they will be coming up until they drop or are inspected. These thoughts can be welcomed as they can show limitations and restrictions that are still in the system. Releasing shoulds and wants opens the mind to seeing what is and being at ease.
So to sum up, instead of trying to get rid of thoughts, welcome them. Instead of holding on to shoulds, let them go, notice wants and honour the mind.
Clarity comes when description of experienced is not taken for all experience. Thinking is not all experience, there is also perception through senses and feeling. If you give thinking all focus, then the rest of experience is missed. And you live in your head, lost in thoughts, analysing and endlessly trying something MENTAL. It is hard.
Imagine you get a gift, wrapped up in a nice gift paper and all you pay attention to is that wrapper. The gift is ignored, the wrapper is taking whole focus and you are so attached to that piece of paper with the bow, that don't even notice the gift. Then you get another gift and another, and still the wrapper is all you see.
Clear mind is that which does not confuse description with a real experience, words for things, map for territory. The fog, the veil that seems to be in the way of seeing is descriptions, labels taken as the main experience. The silent experiencing through feeling and senses is left in the background, unnoticed, ignored. So life lived is not experienced fully and richly as one is living a story about present moment rather then living the present moment so full and rich in perceptions. And trying to stay in the present moment takes a huge amount of energy. Noticing though is effortless.
The simplest test: just take something from your immediate environment and smell it, whatever is right here right now, inhale the scent. Hold it, feel it, experience it. Smell that thing for 2 minutes, take your time with experiencing, don't pay attention to labels, experience the sensed.
Then for the next 2 minutes, describe it fully with words. And that is the difference between experience and description. But wait, describing experience is also experience.
Experiencing thinking is real. Same like experiencing smelling and other senses. Confusion sets in when attention goes to content of thoughts and away from direct experiencing.
So if you pay attention here and look deeply, thinking is happening, it is about experiences and that in itself is experience. The wrapper is also part of the gift.
Vision, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling are 5 separate channels through which data is coming in, thinking is what makes sense of the data, interprets it and describes what is going on, putting all into a STORY. Useful and practical. Some thoughts triggers feelings which is another channel of perception. The channel of the heart. When mind and heart work in balance there is joy and peace, there is openness and expansion. When heart is closed or hurt, the mind is "in charge", working hard to protect that which needs to be protected with help of loyal friend fear. There is a lot to do for the mind, a lot to keep track of and it gets very busy. Exhausting itself till it shuts down.
Mind thinks that it has to understand and control everything. Because it thinks that it is it's job. It thinks. But is it true? Is mind really in charge of life?
When mind is relaxed, it's great, it's like a joyful puppy, curious, innocent, playful and fun, or silent and peaceful. Only mind is afraid to loose it's job- micromanaging the universe. As if it's really doing that.
It's such a mysterious expression... One may say- twisted..
The misunderstanding that mind is primary and most important channel of perception is here till it's seen, that nothing controls what is. It happens. Life is going on by itself, just because, including thinking. Including thinking about how this me is in charge. There is no thinker and no doer, so there is no one in control.
Be kind to the mind. Let it know you appreciate it. And let it slowly retire from the assumed position of manager of universe. Then it will come back to innocent mind which is creative, curious and joyful. And you won't need to try to shut it up.
Love the mind and be kind to it. Just for one day appreciate it, and say yes to the voice in the head. Kindness is soothing and leads to opening. See if that makes a difference for you.
If you try this and it helps, share this with a friend..