A world of unrecognised thoughts

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” Friedrich Nietzsche


I am reading a fascinating book at the moment and one small section really caught my attention. It mentions:

“Thought is the architect of both hope and despair, the source of every colour in the emotional rainbow.

Without thought, there would be no delineation in our world, like the pure clarity of light before it passes through a prism and bursts into a kaleidoscope of color.

But unrecognised thought demands our attention and fills our consciousness.

And when we get caught up in thought, we lose our way.”

We are ruled by the thoughts in our head. Generated moment by moment, every day. What triggers those thoughts can be any outside influence. Be it a picture. A place. Someone you see. A physical object. Literally, anything. However, whilst we might experience an external trigger; our minds pick up this and run like hell. We get caught up in a relay race of chasing thoughts. One following another. A personal example from me:

Question  – “What are we going to have for dinner?

Thoughts and self-talk – Why ask me what is for dinner?

I don’t know?

What is in the fridge?

I’d better check the fridge before I go and buy something? [Seems logical…]

We could have fish cakes? [Where did that come from? Not had them in a week?]

But Jen is allergic to fish? [Logical as this is a friend who is staying with us who is allergic]

Why is she allergic to fish?  [Seems sort of reasonable thought]

Burgers then. [Back to food]

I need some shoe polish. [Now where did that thought come from?]

Better clean the oven? [Now I think I am loosing the plot]

Brillo pads and vim are the best? [Deffo time to call the nut house…]

… and so the thoughts keep coming.

See. Hundreds of thoughts running into and alongside one another. Constantly. It’s a wonder we have time to do anything. As the quote above says, “when we get caught up in thought, we lose our way”.

However, there is something that can help us enormously.

Something so simple, yet so profound, people will think you are quite mad. You have to recognise that these thoughts that you have, are just that. Thoughts. Nothing more. Moment by moment you are recreating a past inside of yourself. A past that you are choosing to create. A past that you can choose to make positive and uplifting. Or a past that is full of doubt. Fear. Even horror. That is what we are capable of. Talk to any counsellor or psychologist and they will confirm, that most treatments for anxiety, fears, phobias and the like are based on changing your perceived view of the past.  

What is even more profound, is that you can then change your viewpoint of what the future might hold. If you accept the future more openly. Without judgement and the feelings of the past, the more likely you are to look at things positively.

What helps you to do this you might ask?

For me, it is Mindfulness and the meditation that goes with it. Moment to moment, being present. Open acceptance. The technique is simple, systematic and direct. Mindfulness training focuses on observing the mind in its natural state, with a non-attached, objective awareness (mindfulness) of what is actually present; moment to moment. Meditation is not a goal, but a tool for realization. Unlike our normal attitudes and perceptions in daily life; which carry an ethical content; during mindfulness we observe only the phenomena of the mind and the body.

There are “Four Foundations of Mindfulness” which serve as the primary base of an insight meditation practice. They are as follows:

  • Mindfulness of Bodily Objects (breath, movement or posture)
  • Mindfulness of Bodily Feelings (pleasant, unpleasant or neutral sensations)
  • Mindfulness of States of Consciousness (mind with or without greed, hatred or delusion)
  • Mindfulness of Mental Contents (joy, apathy, worry, calm, doubt, restlessness, happiness, sadness, etc.)

Or, simply stated, mindfulness of Body, Feelings, Mind and Mental Objects. Once you start to practice Mindfulness, you begin to realise how deep and meaningful it really is.

So the next time you get wrapped up in your thoughts, the first step is to recognise that there is a way to do things in a different manner. Stop for just a moment. Let the thoughts come and then go. Don’t chase after them. In a while the thought that triggered that relay race in your mind will fade. And you can come back to the present moment.

By the way, the book that prompted this post is “The space within, by Michael Neill”. I would really recommend it.

I leave you with the following quote:

The past is gone: the future has not come. But whoever sees the Truth clearly in the present moment, and knows that which is unshakable, lives in a still, unmoving state of mind.”

— The Buddha.    Bhaddekaratta Sutta

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