Let’s talk a little more about You the Thinker, not the thought. It is essential to gaining the clarity and awareness to begin your journey towards being and doing what you truly want to be and do.
Our minds are often so noisy, on several different pages all at once. As if there were a reading room, with competing characters speaking over each other all to get your attention. Then by default, we choose which character is telling us what we percieve as the most important message. This is usually determined by what evokes the most fear – a sometimes crucial defense mechinism.
We have evolved to think this way and rightly so – but only when we use thought as a tool is it beneficial. If we believe everything we think, we are in real trouble. By default our minds scan and pick up percieved threats on an ongoing basis. These threats are then reacted to on a psychiological level, inducing the fight or flight response, (read about it here), setting us into a panic state and shutting off our higher reasoning skills.
This all roots from the identification of our Self with our thoughts. With so much noisy chatter going through our minds constantly, we no longer separate ourselves from it. We are this noisy chatter. We are the voice or voices in our head, assessing and making meaning in the world constantly, without question or even the awareness that we are doing it. This is enough to drive anyone crazy. And as it is, it seems to be doing the trick, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “one in four adults – approximately 57.7 million Americans experience a mental health disorder in a given year. One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness … and one in 10 children live with a serious mental or emotional disorder.” This is not to say that all mental health disorders root from this incessant internal dialgoue, but many experiences, like anxiety or depression, or even daily discomfort and unhappiness, can be eased with this awareness. Quieting down the mind will bring forth clarity, and with practice, greater clarity. Only with clarity can we move forward.
Practical Application: This method has been adapted from Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. It’s simple and effective:
– Creating space between your thoughts: Throughout your day, anytime you remember, (or you can even set an alarm or some type of reminder to do so), stop and take 2 or 3 deep breaths. When you do this, focus on the breath, the sensation of your lungs filling up, the rise and fall of your chest, or the feeling of air passing through your nostrils. Take your time with these breaths and absorb yourself in the observation completely.
This technique does what Tolle calls, creating space between your thoughts. This space is essential in taking away the thought’s vicegrip on your awareness. The space also gives the thoughts less power, and you the thinker more power. It would be good to do this throughout your day at any time, but you can also use it when you are in the middle of an especially loud or chaotic train of thought.
Along with this, continue to observe your thoughts as a second party. Right now, what did you just think? Can you hear what you are thinking? Maybe it’s near lunch and you thought, “I’m getting hungry, I want a sandwhich”, well, if you can experience your thought from the outside looking in, you know this is not you, the thought is a product of you, the thinker. So just observe when you remember, and practice creating space between your thoughts. They will have much less power over you and the negative impacts will decrease significantly. The noise inside your mind will continue to drop. The truth of you who you are will shine through, bit by bit, and the clarity you seek will begin to unveil itself to you, as your truth.
Reference: National Alliance on Mental Health. Mental Illness Facts and Numbers. Retrieved from: NAMI