Are you hypnotised by thoughts?

I find myself mesmerised and hypnotised by thoughts, all the time, often without realising it. It seems many people do, and seek out ways to help themselves. With self help articles, videos, and books about calming the over-thinking brain, how to relax without your thoughts bothering you and ways to distract you from your thoughts. (For example with exercise, meditation, music, hobbies or rituals).

That’s all fine. But in my view, a lot of that is just dealing with the ‘symptoms’. And things like zen buddhism for example, gets to the root of the problem and changes the relationship we have to our thoughts.

I would argue, that thoughts aren’t meaningful or real, they’re mechanical and phantom-like. They’re a tool, and sometimes they’re the wrong tool for the job.

They have no basis in reality. They are an infinite fractal playground of ideas and concepts. We can only create a map about reality in thoughts, and a map is not the same as the territory.

Thoughts just happen, then we give them power over us, by putting our attention on them and our faith in them. And when we do this, it is possible to do the darkest things imaginable. Like kill yourself or kill and torture others. By believing such thoughts as ‘things will never get better’, or ‘ours is the true religion.’

To stop thoughts from bothering us; we don’t need to distract ourselves, we just need to stop putting our attention on them. Stop engaging with them. See them for what they are: just thoughts.

Energy flows where attentions goes.

We don’t have to listen, solve, or get away from them.

Let the thoughts come and go, even if they’re dark or scary thoughts. They can’t hurt us. Disengage, take your hands off the wheel. Drop the attention on them like it’s a hot potato. Don’t grab a hold of the thought, don’t wish it away. These are all forms of engaging with it, as if it’s means something, as if it can hurt us.

Allow the thoughts to be there, accept them, they will drift away like all thoughts ever have.

By Annie Charnley.
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A prison created by thoughts.

Being attached and identified with our thoughts and the thinker can create a prison (which is an illusion), and and it can be torture to live from that place; you are not really living right now. You’re living in the past and future.

There is no peace there.

It is constant grasping and striving.

It never delivers what it promises, and it can obscure what’s happening now, if we let it.

That prison we can live from and not even realise, is dead and not real, it’s just a map, and it’s not really who you are. The map is not the territory.

Thoughts aren’t who you are. If you’re constantly in your thoughts, how can you see that they aren’t you?

Thoughts come and go, but there’s something that always stays. You could assume the thing that stays is the ‘thinker’ or the ‘observer’ of the thoughts. But do you think thoughts, or do thoughts just happen? Do they come from somewhere you aren’t aware of? Do you ‘hear’ them, then claim to be the thinker of them?

Thoughts will do things like compare, make plans, present regrets to you, judge things, and narrate what’s happening even when a lot of the time, none of that is really needed. It’s a powerful tool, but I would ague, it’s not you.

Thoughts work in time, and if I always listen to them and believe they will deliver the goods, they actually takes me out of the raw experience of reality. They takes me away from what I actually want, they’re not capable of giving me what I actually want. (What I want is: aliveness, realness, truth, meaning, presence, salvation from the prison of being stuck in thoughts and identified as the thinker of them). The list of what I want, are still concepts, when faced with the reality of those things, it is quite terrifying and magnificently mysterious and beautiful, to me.

I have spent the majority of my life identifying with my thoughts and identifying with thinking them. This might not be everyone’s experience. But it is certainly my experience and I imagine many others too.

I’ve taken the constant commentary in my head to be me, and who could blame me, it intuitively feels true and I assume it is true. But you can only see the problem from the solution. You can’t see the problem from within the problem. In other words I could only see that it wasn’t me, from having a break from the identification with thoughts.

We don’t realise that the prison door is always unlocked, it seems to me that we are not our thoughts, we are not the thinker of them. We don’t have to listen to them, believe them or act from them. In reality, we are free to use them when we need them and not use them when we don’t need them. But many of us, myself included seem to not know this, and therefore not see ourselves more clearly and not be ourselves without identifying with thoughts and the thinker.

Thoughts are only one part of the misidentification of our true nature. But it’s okay, it doesn’t really matter, all of this is just words pointing to something.

You don’t need to do anything, except maybe to be open to this idea. Things just happen all the time in us that isn’t in our control. The seeing of this might happen too, we can’t make the seeing happen, but we can experiment with it through things like meditation, isolation tanks, being in a state of flow in activity etc, and get little glimpses of it.

I’ve found this to be true, meaningful and valuable to me. I hope it is for you too, if not, that’s absolutely fine. Maybe the words are dead for you and nothing jumps out as alive, we can’t make that happen or control it.

Things just happen, and we get to experience it all.