Remember, life as it appears to us can have so many hues and colors, and this is only one version of it. The world is a wondrous and playful place - So take it or leave it (as your truth or not) as you like. And thank you for taking time and interest!
- "Most people are so completely
identified with the voice in the head — the incessant stream of
involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it —
that we may describe them as being possessed by their mind. As long as
you are completely unaware of this, you take the thinker to be who you
are." - Eckhart Tolle
- "The thinker of thought is also a thought, believed in - which is identity" - Mooji
"The ultimate truth of who you are, is not I am this or I am that, but I am" - Eckhart Tolle-
"Your identity is made by ... your deep, driving desire. As is your desire, so is your will. As is your will, so is your deed. As is your deed, so is your destiny. - Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Human beings are the only species with the ability to analyze our own existence; we have the ability of thought. The paradox of this gift is that we often forget the purpose of thought,- a tool, an instrument to use as a help to support us in life. Instead we start to take it as the reality, the reality of ourselves and our surroundings - we are our thoughts. If you feel you believe this to be true, or maybe don`t understand what it means, please try this little experiment before reading on:
Can you take one step back and just listen to your thoughts? What is being "said"? Have you heard any of these things said somewhere else in your life before? Take a few minutes and close your eyes and just observe and listen to your thoughts. What do they say? What are the words? Could you write some of them down?
Now, when you are done,- don´t answer the following question with words, but try to feel the answer within; When you were listening to your thoughts, who was the listener? If you are observing your thoughts, who is the observer?
"The greater part of most people's thinking is involuntary, automatic, and repetitive. It is no more than a kind of mental static and fulfills no real purpose. Strictly speaking, you don't choose to think; Thinking happens to you. The statement “I think” implies volition. It implies that you have willfully chosen to think what you think (or that you think in the first place). For most people, this is not yet the case. “I think” is just as false a statement as “I digest” or “I circulate my blood.” Digestion happens, circulation happens, thinking happens.
The voice in the head has a life of its own. Most people are at the mercy of that voice; they are possessed by their thinking and its repetitive, unconscious content. This circular, repetitive, incessant thinking is conditioned by the past, and it keeps you trapped in the past. It is as though you continue to relive the past over and over again.
Do you ever wonder why the same problems challenge you throughout your life? Your unconscious mind is re-creating them, but you don't even know it."What we think also create our reactions and our reactions create interaction that produces our experiences of life and our surroundings. We are caught in our own net, and therefore we are caught in not really seeing ourselves, each other, and the world as it truly is. We don't think of this as something to control or even question, but as something that just comes to us, like a pile of snow falling from a rooftop onto our heads.Life just happens to us - we don´t do life.
Control is also often associated with something negative or forced, so we avoid the issue, dismissing it as being "unnatural".
Like this we never learn how to really love or understand; we see people through the interpretations of our mind; as Plato's shadows of their real self, cast upon a cave wall. We end up being reactions to our mind and its stories. We believe them, and they control our lives, our way of thinking, acting and feeling; who we become. We sit in the boat of our life, but let others steer its course.
To be free from this way of living and perceiving has for me become one of the cornerstones in life. Here I will try to describe as best as I can what I have gone through to try and reach a clearer state of experiencing the outer world and myself, the stages that occur and the methods I have used to approach it. Hope this can give you something, as it has helped me more than I can put into words. Enjoy!
In the search to discover your true self and your relation to thought, there can be many ways. Here is one way, divided into different stages.
1: You are your thoughts: You haven't considered to question your thoughts, you are them. If somebody is mad at you (or any other feeling), you get triggered and react back with thought and or feeling. If someone feel good about you, you automatically also feel good about yourself and about them. And the opposite; If you feel bad you think bad. If you think bad you feel bad. - It is a circle that repeats itself, and you follow it like a shadow the way it leads you. What you think control how you act, how you feel, who you are, your life is in the control of your projections.
An example of this reacting pattern:
Somebody has said something that has hurt me and touched off a fight. At first, I am caught up in feeling hurt--my body aches and my mind is swarming with painful thoughts and associations. I don't like to feel this way, so I start to react against it. Yet the more I struggle with it, the more I become entangled and stuck to it. I start to tell myself stories that only intensify my pain: "This person will never understand me," "She/he likes to attack me, she/he`s too aggressive,"Maybe I need to leave this person,". Each of these stories touches off further reactions in me, and the more I get caught up in my reactions, the more I lose touch with what is really happening.
If I plunge into the story-"She/he likes to attack me, that's just the way she/he is"-I may then do something to get back at the person or I may decide to close myself off to her/him. Yet both of these defensive reactions only complicate the situation further because they are not accurate responses to what is really going on. In other words, when I react like this, with a story in my mind, I actually have no idea at all what is really going on. I have fabricated a reality of who that person is to defend myself from feeling "bad feelings". And this I have done through believing in my thoughts and the stories they tell me. To find out what is going on, I must put aside my stories and bring some fresh awareness into the situation.
2: You question your thoughts: To regain awareness I need to step back from the whirlwind of my reactions. Although this may take some practice at first, it is always possible because the nature of awareness is mobile and fluid.
If you are starting to take a closer look at your thoughts, ask yourself this question:
Can my thoughts be a product of what I have learned through life and made my mind up to be? Are your thoughts fragments you have picked up on the road of your life and puzzled together to the whole that now makes up what you now call "you". Maybe you have taken these words (and sentences) from parents, friends, enemies, everything you met on your way, but most often not consciously. They just attached themselves to you and unaware (or maybe even sometimes aware), you adopted them, like little orfan voices in your mind. If you really manage to see and feel this clearly, it can make you understand yourself better and also that you are the one who have chosen, consciously or subconsciously your thoughts and in the end who you wanted to be. These thoughts are numerous and can be anything from "I am not deserving of xxx". "Why do I never find a happy relationship", "Why are bad things always happening to me?", "Why am I not xxx enough?", "I will never be good enough at x", "I need x or x to be happy", "I am not happy" Etc, etc, etc.
If you often are stuck with thoughts like this, you might also choose a special way of seeing life to support your thought choices. This selective perception will make your chosen thoughts seem even more real to you. E.g: If you believe in the thought "bad things always happen to me", every time a bad thing happen, this is what you will put emphasis on. When good things happen, you overlook them, and still keep your focus on the bad issues that happened before. An other example; Lets say you believe in the thought "I always get rejected". In interacting with others you will then very often look for rejection, because you fear it. What we try to avoid is often what stays alive in our mind. Then we search for it in fear of getting it. You will interpret rejection where it actually in reality it is non-existing. Maybe you even become needy in your fear of getting rejected. You are reacting as if you were rejected already, and in this stage real rejection will of course come to you. You are so trapped in your own story of being rejected, that you are making it come true. In this way, your thought becomes and supports your perceived reality.
The good thing about all this is, if you have chosen your thoughts, they are not who you are, they are only just a choice you have made and stuck with. And you can now, when and if you see this clearly, start to choose in a new way.
3: Observing your thoughts: Now that you are aware of your thoughts being in you, but not you, you can start to listen to them. This listening is not the way of listening you used to do before, taking them for the truth about yourself, others and life. Now you can look at them as something that is just babbling inside your head. ;-) (This can be a very funny stage, cause you might realize the absurdity of your thoughts, and also the slliness of taking them for the truth)
Now you have managed to take a step back away from your thoughts. You have realized they are not you and that you don't have to listen to them. You are observing them. (Again look at the question from before;"If I am observing my thoughts, how is the observer?" Try to deeply feel the wordless answer inside you and stay with it,- Be the observer)
Now start looking at your thoughts even closer:
Lets say you are mad at your girlfriend because you don´t think she gives you enough love. Write down the thoughts you have, and don´t be shy. Dont make them prettier or censor them. Let the angry, sad voice inside express exactly what is there and write it all down.
Then ask yourself this question: Is it true? In the example I used, the man would have to go deep inside himself and ask himself, is it true that my girlfrined doesn´t give me enough love? And is it true that she should give me more love? Maybe the answer is yes, maybe no. The importance is to really try to find what your true answer is and get in touch with the deeper truth inside of yourself. Disconnect with all the things you have been taught to be true; "We should do this, we should do that" The fact is that very often we don´t. The world is as it is- this is the reality, this is the truth. Trying to change it by making up a story of how it is not, but should be, only closes you up to reality. Find the true answers.
Then after this, go even deeper into the question and ask yourself. "Can I absolutely know that it is true?" Nobody is asking you to come up with a certain answer or force you to make a given one. Ask yourself.
When your have connected with your answer, whatever it is, try to feel out this one: How does it make you feel when you belive that it is true? How do you behave towards the other person in question? And how does behaving like that make you feel? How do you behave towards yourself and others when you belive this story to be true? Do you like the way you behave then? Do you like how it makes you feel?
Then try an other cenario? How would you be without the thought? How would you feel? How would you behave towards the person in question if that thought was impossible to think? Can you see any reasons to drop that thought?
Now, quite often thoughts we have about others can be projections of our inner minds and what we really should look and work on on ourselves. Havent you ever seen the totally homophobic guy and wondered if maybe he is actually gay and that is why he is reacting so strongly? Or wondered why someone was so angry and mad at others for doing the exact same thing they were doing themselves? Our mind often just gets reality backwards. We project our inner world onto others and don´t see that it´s really about ourselves.
So, try now and flip your thought around. lets take the the example of the man who didnt think his girlfriend loved him enough. "I dont think my girlfriend gives me enough love" If we turn it around it will be "I dont give my girlfrined enough love". And wouldnt that be more true in a way? He wants to demand her to behave in a certin way that he sees as loving. Maybe he doesnt even know her and that she really expresses her love in ways he overlooks? He demands that she should love him more? Is that really to be a loving person? Maybe when he belives the thought that she doesnt give him enough love he closes himself off to her and gets snarky and angry at her. Now the statement, "I should give my girlfrined more love" maybe starts to sound more true than "She should give me love". And there is an other way this thought can be turned around as well. "I need to give myself more love" That might be even truer. He demands love from her, but does he feel it in his own heart? And does he truly express it to himself and her? And in the end, who can really know what is good for us in the long run? Maybe he even would learn something valuable and good because he thought she didnt give him love, or maybe it would even be good for him if she left him and something else came into his life? What is the deeper good is not possible to see in the moment from the narrow stand and view we have. So,- "My girlfriend needs to give me more love" Is it true?
Or maybe your thought is, "I am not loved". "Nobody gives me love" try to turn it around. "I dont love myself" "I dont give myself love" Stop looking outside. Everything you really need you have right in front of you :-)
So, give it a shot and test out your thoughts and beliefs. They might not be as true as you first think when they are not looked at or really examined by yourself and your deeper wisdom.
There are also other ways you can unravel the real truth behind your noisy thoughts. You can start with asking yourself some other simple questions to test the reality of them.
As in the exersise before, when you are taking a step back and listening to your thoughts; are you aware that you are thinking, that awareness is not part of thinking. It is a different dimension of consciousness. This awareness is the real you. It is the silent awareness of “I am.”
If there were nothing but thought in you, you wouldn’t even know that you were thinking. You would be like a dreamer who doesn’t know he is dreaming. You would be as identified with every thought as the dreamer is with every image in the dream. Many people still live like that, like sleepwalkers, trapped in old dysfunctional mindsets that continuously recreate the same nightmarish reality. When you know you are dreaming, you are awake within the dream,- another dimension of consciousness has come in.
4: Release yourself from your thoughts:
While observing your thoughts, you might find a consciousness or being in yourself that is other than thought. (If you observe your thoughts, you have already entered the new consciousness of not being your thoughts.) Practice this first alone, with closed eyes. Just be in this You that is the observer of your thoughts and stay with the experience.
So now, instead of continuing to be tossed around in turbulent reactions, you can let your new gained awareness and observation move back and forth from them, and simple acknowledge the whole scale of emotions and words they produce. (Emotions are most often products of the thoughts you are making). Dont try to make the thoughts go away,- they never will. Thoughts are like waves in the ocean, they are there. but just observe them, look at them.
When you do this, it is as thought you step out of a blazing fire that is consuming you, and sit down next to it instead. Once you create some space for yourself you are no longer trapped in its flames. You can then allow the fire to be there as it is, without having to resist it. You will still feel its heat, but it no longer burns you alive. In other words, when you can make space for you feelings and thoughts to be there, and when you can be present with your awareness "next to them", "On the edge of them" you find your balance and awareness of being.
This brings relief and peace of mind. You are no longer stuck in the oppositional struggle, you no longer are your thoughts or the feelings they produce (more about feelings and how they are created), you watch them. You have found an other you deeper inside yourself. It also brings deeper clarity,-you can simply recognize that you are hurting/being sad/happy etc , without becoming so embroiled in the drama around it. You have more freedom of movement because you are not caught in reacting against the pain of thoughts or feelings produced by thoughts. And in taking this position, you feel more stability and strength.
(Don`t think about how to do this, because that is just an other thought, and your thoughts will try to be in control of you all the time when you are trying out these things - That is their function. So don't think about it, just observe and be in the observing experience and let it fill you. In other words - just do it. (Damned Nike ;-)
The experience of no longer being your thoughts and experiencing the freedom of not being identified with thought, might only be in a few seconds at a time, and then you might fall back into old ways (you are not the observer anymore, but identify with the thoughts). This is something that takes practice to stay with. But now you know the experience, you have been there and you can return there.
An easier way to do this is if you can really take the following in: In reality there is actually nothing you need to do at all. Yes, of course you can make yourself tea, and pay the bills, but when it comes to feeling free and happy, you dont have to do anything, not anything at all. Let go of every concept or thought you ever had and relax into this knowledge. There is nothing you need, drop needing, there is nothing you have to be or do, you are already free and there is nothing you have to ... at all. Just let go. :-)
5: Non-attachment to thoughts last longer: The intervals of not being your thoughts last longer the more you practice this. Practice it and it and you will learn more every time to be the one behind the thoughts - Your true being.
6: Non-attachment to thought: makes you experience the world very differently. You experience the true joy of how things are without your thought-labels on them. After having practiced this many times alone, you might be ready to take it with you out in the world. Practice observing the world through the non-thought experience. Observe the consequences of interaction. You might experience that you see others that are attached to thought, but don't become part of their thought -"games" (Acting and reacting) anymore - As you now have learned, by watching yourself, these games or not done on purpose, they are done out of non-awareness of thoughts. You stop believing that these thoughts are the truth and just stay in the moment fully aware. So in a situation when somebody is projecting positive or negative thoughts on you, where you before would have re-acted to (re-act: somebody acts on you and you send that action back to them; you re-act the movement), you now see the cycle of action and reaction clearly, and take yourself away from it.
As you are seeing the pattern you will most likely not want to identify or willingly participate in it anymore. For the first time you have taken an active choice in the matter - you are aware. As long as you keep your focus on the inner observer of thoughts, seeing others and yourself from this point of view you no longer feel anger, hate, frustration, want or any other feeling for all the things made out of the action / reaction circle. You realize that it is not personal, but made out of unawareness, so you don't take it personal anymore. Rather you are observing what happens and let reality be what it is. You may also instead feel compassion and love for those who are trapped in these circles and want to help them; non-attached (unconditional) love guides you towards other people. The thing about such things is, nobody can really be helped. You are only ready for change at the moment you a ready. Before this moment such things will not make sense to you and you will reject them. Maybe you are not ready for this text now either. Maybe it doesnt make sense to you? That is totally fine, just let it go and go on your way where you will find other truths that speak to you instead. Or maybe you will look up this text again some other day and then it will speak to you. Or maybe it has already started a change inside of you. The best we can do is just to accept other peoples stages of mind, and let reality serve its cause and show itself to you.
7: The more you practice observing your thoughts, the longer the intervals of loving non-attachment lasts.Here are some exercises that can help you get further in touch with your inner "silent" self:
a: Go to the forest (or any other form of nature) Set a total focus on your sensual experiences. How does it smell, what do you see, what do you hear, what do you feel? Focus totally on this. If silence of thought occurs, go with the flow of it, and keep observing.
b: Sit or lay down with your eyes closed. Relax and feel your body. Breathe slowly and deep. Feel the inside of your body, starting with your toes. Move up all the way through yourself until you feel all of you. You are connecting with your own aliveness and presence in the now.
c: Sit or lay down and close your eyes. Just listen and observe your thoughts. Let them go where they want. Given them total space to run around. Stay in this and just let what happens happen.
d: Sit or lay down with closed eyes. Follow your own breath. Have all of your awareness on the breath. Whern you breath in and when you breathe out keep your attention on it. Picture that you are breathing in from the soles of your feet all through your body and out of your head.
e: Try this meditation
8: There is no road to happiness, happiness is the road:Dont get frustrated if you don't reach a permanent stage of awareness. This would be what we would call enlightenment, and it doesnt really matter. Enlightenment is just an other thought concept. You are not doing this to reach a goal, you are doing this to live as an aware person in the moment - this moment. As long as you live for the future you are not seeing realtiy and the only things that exsist - the now. So take your mind of any possible goal and concentrate on the now. You might do this better by:
9: Be aware of the illusion of time:
The now is the only thing you will ever experience. The past was the now back then - it is not anymore. The now is the only thing that can and ever will exist. The future is only a thought you have created in your mind - it is a constructed idea.
Your thoughts will most often be about these two non-existing times; the past or the future. Or as John Lennon put it so well" Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans." But when you truly are in the now and aware, thought looses its control over you. Because to be in the now is to be present and aware of life itself, not the constructions of how your mind thinks life should be or it wishes it might be. As future and past are constructions, so are thoughts and the mind. They go together and feed each other in an endless circle. And they are all resistances of what is, the present, the now, reality. As long as you resist life as it is, thought becomes more alive. And the opposite is also true, thought naturally looses its power when you are aware and present in life, because reality doesnt need false constructions, reality just is as it is. In this sense thought only becomes a tool you can use, if you want to.
So this is the reason why thought will cling to the conceptual and created times (the past and the future;) it`s its way of becoming alive in your mind. When you see this arise in you, take yourself back to the present moment by being aware of the now, and practicing the ways of awareness described before in this article.
10: Choose the thoughts you want to have in you, to improve your lifequality:All thoughts do not make you unhappy or create illusions in your mind. You might learn thoughts that can help you improve and be happy. In this way thought are a tool for you and in your control, you are no longer just ruled by them unconsciously.
So now you can choose them with care; you choose the thoughts you want, for the person you want to be and practice them. Don`t worry if they won`t stick in the beginning. You learned your old thoughts by repeating them many times through the years. Do the same with the new thoughts. The very best way to do this is to practice the 4 steps of questionng discribed above. (Is the thought true? Turn it around and see if that can be equally true. Etc...)
Tip: If you feel that you still struggle with many negative thoughts and thought-patterns, you might try to redefine your thoughts and emotions before you practice the dis-identification with them. This technique might give you a good start on that.
Other helpful links:
These two ebooks sounds a bit cheesy in the title, but belive me, they are GOLD on the way to inner freedom:
Byron Katie, Book I
Byron Katie, Book II
These videos: 1, 2 are also very helpful - or any other video with Mooji.
(I feel it is very important to forget prejudice to so callled self-help and gurus, if you are actually interested in finding important answers in life. Forget labels and such and just go for the truths there is to find there, and what speaks to you on an own inner personal level...that is the most important thing)
- Åsa :-)