“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.” – Albert Einstein
We Think Too Much and Feel Too Little
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for positive thinking, of course it is better than negative thinking, but if you truly want to live a deeply fulfilling life you need to go beyond positive thinking.
Oh my goodness, what’s beyond positive thinking? Ultra positive thinking? Actually, “no” thinking is the answer, a simple state of just being, of silence.
Much of the popular self-help material out there advocates that to improve your life, positive thinking, working on your self-image, is essential to changing your life and reaching your dreams. But all that requires great effort, and in the mean time causes you much conflict because you now create an ideal, an image of what you “should” be, and since you aren’t it presently causes you much anxiety and depression.
Remember the “image” is never the thing, so we end up striving after an illusion. This is how society functions, it creates ideals and images for you to be ambitious. Here and now is never enough, only In the future when you reach your ideal will you ever attain happiness. This is how society is able to push it’s agendas.
Thinking Takes Time
In learning to properly observe your thought process, you will come to find that it’s chief features are that it wants certainty, it want’s pleasure, and it protects itself at all costs.
Your Self Image
If I ask you to think about who you are? And you tell me, I am Mr. so and so and I am a popular singer. I say, “oh….I have heard your music before….I’m sorry.. but I think its terrible.”
How would you react? Who reacts? Why do you react? If your self-image says that you are a great singer and I come along say you aren’t, your self-image which is created by thought will seek to protect itself.
But why are you reacting in the first place? Your self-image is not who you really are, sure it serves it’s purpose in society, but don’t derive your sense of self from it. Much of our suffering comes from our self-image (ego) seeking approval in the outside world.
Too much thinking will only keep you going in endless circles, and keep you from seeing things as they really are. Too much thinking postpones taking action.
Sure, thought is critical to your day-to-day life, but we need to learn to put it away when it’s not needed and learn to be with our silence, our inner space. I would estimate that 90 percent of our thinking is useless, it’s just additional commentary that adds nothing to our experience of life or the situation at hand.
When I am having a delicious meal, thought is not needed, yet many of us will have a running commentary. When your eating, just eat, if thoughts come up just witness them, don’t pay them any attention. You are the sky (inner witness) and thoughts are the clouds, just let them come and go.
Your attention is the most valuable thing in your life. When you are consumed by your thinking your attention is hi-jacked. If your attention is free, you will be intensely aware of your physical senses which will allow you to enjoy your meal to the maximum.
Living in The Gap
When you learn to be with your silence (daily meditation practice) you will become aware of the gap between your thoughts. One thought will come, you see it (but you don’t give it any power), then it fades away, then there is a gap, then another thought quickly floats in. Most of us are so identified to our thoughts that we never experience the gap.
The gap is who you really are, your intrinsic nature. The more you learn to be the witness to your inner world the bigger the gaps you will create. You will create space around your thoughts. Creating space around your thoughts means your attention is no longer as strongly identified to your thoughts.
This means you can question the validity of your thoughts, you don’t have to believe everything you think. From this space you are able to perceive reality closer to what it really is, because you are not caught up in your thought process. This is a huge step in your personal evolution.
Your organism becomes more sensitive and allowed to function properly. Your sense of touch, smell, hearing, seeing, and tasting become intensely alive and alert. Having a body that is functioning on this level allows you to respond to life. When you do need to think you are able to it clearly, in a more objective sort of way. You will experience more and more moments of inspiration, of epiphany.
As I was writing this post at a Starbucks, I needed to take a break because as I looked up I made eye contact with with a very attractive girl who I felt wanted me to approach her. If I was lost in my imagination, I would not have had the awareness to pick up on all her subtle body language.
I immediately responded to my inner sense and I walked on over and struck up a conversation. If I would have worried about my Korean language skills being too low, I would have chickened out. My self-image would have thought of dozens of reasons why or why I shouldn’t approach her. Which only would delay me from taking action and becoming too self-conscious. I am glad I didn’t because I ended up meeting a very nice and interesting person who I have since then enjoyed spending time with.
When you learn to not be dominated by your thinking, you then open yourself up to all the subtle communications of your essential nature. You open yourself up to your intuition. Your intuition doesn’t need to think, it already knows what you really want and how to go about doing it.
In this day and age changes are happening so fast that your thinking just can’t keep up, you need your intuition to guide you into the future. It’s your own compass for life. Happy travels.
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