How the mind works – Do you know what your mind is doing?
Are thoughts produced by our mind? Do we create our own thoughts? Is the process of thinking voluntary? Do thoughts have emotions?
Your mind is much more than just its physical outlet, which we call our brain. It is a perfect tool designed to help you achieve to materialize thoughts into this reality. It is up to you how you will use it.
All the books that I’ve read and all the conversations I’ve had, have one thing in common: to figure out what is happening in my mind. People who do that are called seekers – they seek to find themselves. It sounds quite irrational if you read it like this – I mean: ‘to find yourself?’
I am here, where else should I go and look for myself than here where I am. It’s nonsense. And yet, it’s not that easy, especially for you who is reading this. Some say that it is simple – after all – that there is nothing really to understand, but stepping out of it and letting it happen all by itself.
The more you think the less you live
People have observed their own minds for eons and left us abundant material to help us understand what is happening in our minds. From everything I have gathered, there’s one thing which could be distilled from all books and teachings: reducing your thought activity increases your life activity.
But not in the sense of necessarily doing things, no, but life in the sense of living with a much greater joy, whether you are doing something or not doing anything at all!
This is why many seekers have written down their experiences – for one simple reason: that you don’t have to suffer as they did, and to give you the instruments and knowledge to make that happen for you.
What can I do about it?!
Those who have tried different techniques to increase awareness and decrease thought activity know how hard it is. A spiritual teacher would say: “No, it isn’t hard; it is easy; you just have to stop paying attention to your mind!”
Well, I speak to those who haven’t quite reached that point yet, but are doing their best to get there. And here comes the teacher in again: “There is nothing to reach and nowhere to get; it is all here already!”
OK, then let me say it like this: It is for those who still have severe mind activity regardless of their effort; as an inert habit, which has its own momentum, which doesn’t let you go – precisely because… you are giving your attention to it.
Looking at ‘your’ thoughts
I have tried different approaches of which one was to look at every single thought that would appear in my mind, which can be a quite dreadful thing to do, because you have to look at all these recurring, repetitive thoughts that keep bombarding your attention until in less than a tenth of a second the awareness is gone, and you are virtually drowning in thoughts – again.
However, it is a good way to learn the basics of how the mind functions and an excellent way to see that thoughts are not part of the mind, but small and random entities of no particular power, and of no particular emotion.
I know many will say that they do feel many different emotions when they are thinking, but this still doesn’t mean the thought itself is an emotion. It is emotionless and meaningless until we decide to give it a value.
An analogy would be: Thoughts are spectators in a football stadium, and all spectators are raising their hands and waving for you to catch their attention. You are the king, sitting in a VIP lounge and all that you see is this huge crowed cheering and waving to catch your glimpse.
And if someone – because of some reason – succeeds, he then is not part of the crowd anymore, but transforms himself into an individual who gets all the attention that was previously spread evenly across the whole stadium.
Now imagine how this fella feels like? His status skyrocketed from an unknown spectator to a focus point of attention…
However, I must remind you; this is just an analogy, a sketchy drawing, to show you how I experienced this process in my mind, but if done properly, this technique might give you a great opportunity to feel the peace in between thoughts – which is a really liberating thing to encounter.
Giving value to a thought
The attention to one thought explains why a terrible thought can bring you an emotional break-down. All your energy is directed into one thought, and if that thought is disastrous, you can end up in great distress and even physical pain.
Of course, nice thoughts may have a better outcome, but the price of random thoughts and unawareness is exceptionally high, because thoughts do not understand concepts or perceptions of good and evil; they just want your attention – like everybody else on this planet – and this is why after a good thought there might be a bad thought which will throw you into discomfort without your permission.
The problem with any technique is that you are interfering with an existing system, and this system – like every other – has a build-in defense mode, to restore itself back to the status quo.
Instead of fighting it; it is much better – and healthier – to withdraw from that field and to return in shorter intervals, for the simple reason, to go easy with something that has been here for so long.
Never push too hard, be nice to yourself.
Do only what you are doing
This brings us to another common technique in which you focus all your attention exclusively only to what you are doing: Eating, drinking, driving, hand washing, etc. Whatever thought comes; you let it bounce into an invisible shield of indifference; meaning that you pay attention only to the action you do, but not to any thought suggestions whatsoever.
Which means that thoughts may arise – and they certainly will – but you let them pass without paying attention to them. This is similar to walking in big cities: you may occasionally catch a glimpse of somebody’s face, but you will not take notice of every single person passing by.
Even if there is a disturbing or very distractive thought – just look at it and let it go. This is a very powerful thing to do, because it gives a new quality to whatever you are doing.
Most people who try this are astonished on the fluidity and tranquility in their work – and their relationships – it works instantly, because all attention is focused to this moment and very, very little energy gets used, in fact, one could even say that the overall energy field of body and mind rises significantly.
However, both methods rely on your attention and discipline; there is no other way around it.
How to stay focused in a world of billions of thoughts?
These days I’m in the process of trying a third method, which came up spontaneously.
There are many different projects that I’m working on right know, and what I discovered is that my mind activity is enormous due to the vast amount of new thoughts and suggestions streaming in from outside; however, I’m still able to preserve much of my energy, which made me wonder why?
Give your mind something to do
I’ve gathered that instead of letting my mind chew on random thoughts (without my permission), I’ll rather give it thoughts or tasks which I have pre-defined for it to work on. It sounds scarier than it is; the mind does not care; it does what you want it to do – easy as this.
Almost like a dog – throw it a bone, and it will chew on it until it’s finished. The good thing is, there is a much smaller consumption of energy involved, something that I really like about it.
I think this is very significant, and this is why I will give another example: The TV, for instance, continuously feeds images and all sorts of random information into your mind, and if you are very attentive, you’ll see that your mind processes every single one of them, and every thought will trigger a different emotion, which we feel like ‘our’ emotion.
But if you look at it again, nothing of it is ours; we got the information from an outside source and are now ‘chewing on it’. Year after year, mountains of involuntary thoughts are being spent for no particular reason. I hope you can see the difference between ‘you’ deciding what to feed into your system – or letting that happen by an outside source.
The TV is just one example; there are many others, like your parents, your school, your friends, your government – your mind is conditioned through the information it gets. So if you consciously choose what to put into your mind, it will bring about a completely different reality in which you start to live in.
The next time, when you might be sitting in a cafe or at home on your couch completely absorbed by all kinds of vigorous mind processes; and you are unable to move, because all of your energy is focused and used for random and unselected thoughts – bringing you nothing than a headache – consciously decide your mind to figure out something useful – because this is what your mind can do for you.
It can serve as a great tool to do awesome things, but it can also turn into a monster if used wrongly.
Keep your mind clean – like any other tool
This why thought hygiene is so important; the more nonsense you put into your mind – in the form of ‘thinkable’ thoughts – the more it will chew on. So if you choose depressing or frightening thoughts, this is what the mind will work on, because the mind doesn’t ‘think’; it does as it is told by YOU.
Now, this may come as some surprise, but it is really you who is running the show, or better, allowing these things to happen. You could say, we choose our own thought-misery without being aware of it all.
I know that many people have read books on this subject; however, what I want to stress here is the importance that these techniques should be used and put into praxis and not added to a bookshelf as another mind trophy. Intellectuality leads nowhere – in contrary – it pumps the ego personality to new heights without – again – you being aware of it at all.
This is the whole trickery of mind-ego relations; it wants you back in the game – at all cost. If you are unable to step out of never-ending mind processes, then give your mind a task to solve from which you will gain something.
Let’s say you always wanted to play an instrument; you will be surprised to see how the mind will – even when you sleep – work on the millions of details that you have put into it in the form of knowledge (or thoughts); it will work on the task day and night to fulfill your order, since this is why you have it – you were equipped with the mind to use it – but you are not the mind.
Your life is what you ‘think’ of it
Can you see the possibilities of this? Just surround yourself with the right information, and with the right people, select your thoughts carefully, and your mind will start creating the life you’ve always wanted to live.
We learn so many unnecessary things, but we don’t learn the basics of our being, simply because they are ‘invisible’ to the scientist’s eye – no wonder – how are you supposed to see anything, when you are completely lost in thoughts which other have pre-defined for you to think about? What a boring thing to do – to think what others want me to think. Think about it.
About the Author
Alen covers a wide range of topics, which include health and healthy living, permaculture, the perception of reality, and arts; as well as writing articles and commentaries on current events. He has sold his business to focus entirely on his website organictalks.com, which is a project he and his wife have put together with the help of many other inspiring contributors.
**This article was originally featured at Organic Talks.**
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.
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