Take a number, zero to ten. Zero represents a mind that is completely empty of thoughts. Crystal clear. I don’t know if you could even imagine such a mind. Ten is a mind so filled with thoughts it would be impossible to get another one in.
Where are your thoughts on a scale of zero to ten — at this present moment?
If you said below four I would usually ask if you are on an anti-depressant drug. These drugs suppress mental activity. It’s like turning the volume control down on a radio. It may give you some peace from the endless chatter but it means that you are now unable to use the radio for what it was designed for.
When you are awake at every moment your thoughts are on something. In a moment take a pause from reading and try to dissect the array of thoughts in your mind.
There are many layers of thoughts and feelings. Are the thoughts in the form of words or pictures? Sometimes people have imaginary conversations. Sometimes the thoughts are more ephemeral: emotions or feelings in the body. Much of the time our thoughts are on the past: regretting, analysing, recalling or on the future: anticipating what might or could happen, speculating or worrying. As a general rule when we think too much about the past we get depressed and when we think too much about the future we get anxious.
Become aware of each individual strand of thoughts that are going through your mind. Do this with your eyes open.
For instance, suppose you just had an argument with someone. You may become aware that you are replaying the argument, with all its emotion, but differently to how it actually happened; or you are analysing every phrase. Maybe you got annoyed with someone when you were driving. You may think that you were ‘right’ and they were ‘wrong,’ but what does it mean to be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and why does it matter?
Take yourself back to when you had your first crush. That time when a look or a comment from your loved one would be relived over and over. Was being ‘right’ important to you then? Become aware of each individual strand of thoughts that are going through your mind.
Do this with your eyes closed.
Your mind may be planning what you are going to do later, or thinking back to what you did earlier. How much of this is of any use?
When the eyes are closed the mind slows down. You would typically go from a beta state to an alpha state.
Could you imagine having a crystal clear mind? A mind with no thoughts? You may think that your thoughts are part of you and that if you had no thoughts you would cease to exist but when you think about your thoughts what is it that is doing the thinking? You probably have more than one thought going through your mind at any one time. If you are your thoughts then how can you have more than one thought at a time?
Your thoughts are really no more part of you than what you hear, see, touch, taste or smell. You think that because they come from inside of your mind that they are part of you but what is ‘you’ anyway?
By Philip Braham on July 4, 2018