Why you’re thinking too much and need to stop

Have you ever been so caught up in thought that you’ve had someone say your name and you don’t respond? They repeat it a couple times, making themselves more distinct, to get your attention. They wave their hands in front of your face and finally you snap out of whatever trance you were in.

I think that almost everyone lives their life in that trance. The degree that you are spaced out varies but ultimately you are almost always in that trance. The struggle is that one person cannot wave their hands in front of you and make you wake up because you have to do it yourself.

Everyone exists in this trance, where they don’t pay attention. Their mind consumes them and they narrow their vision onto one thing. It’s as if we put binoculars on and stare at one thing – which blocks out everything else that is happening.

In our society, we highly value analytical thought. Or, simply logic. Everything in our existence can be quantified and analyzed until we can determine what it means. We do this because we think that once we understand something, we can control it. If we deduct the reason why we think something happens, we can cause it to repeat (if it’s beneficial to us).

We get so caught up in logic and idolize it that we get clouded with illusion. We start to believe that if we think about something long enough, we have the power to control it. We believe that if we could think of every possible reaction to a situation, we could make it work out in our favor.┬áThat’s why we spend so much time thinking of every different way to react to a situation.

However, this power is an illusion. In reality we have incredibly little power to control events and make them work out in our favor. Our ability to analyze has led us to worshiping thought and neglecting something called no-mind. By idealizing logic, we have done something incredibly illogical.

We have caused ourselves to live in our mind constantly attempting to solve problems and think through situations that may never happen. We all seek happiness and well being but we plan for it rather than live in it. If we do this or that, we could be happy. We must think of how to do something to have a good life. The truth is that we have well-being threaded into our existence and if we stop thinking, we can experience find that well-being.

Many of our problems stem from dealing and communicating with other people. When we encounter an emotional problem, we, often more times than not, try to apply logic and solve it. We think that if she moved her dress this way, she must hate us now. We try to apply logic to something that logic cannot solve. Not everything is done with an intent and you cannot deduct every movement from another person.

Logic is this sense is toxic. It erodes the mind because in other situations we can solve the problem simply by thinking about it. However, not everything works off of simple cause and effect – things exist spontaneously. It is an illusion to believe that the more we think, the more likely our solution will work in these situations. Or that the longer we think about something, the more likely we will be able to make it work out in our favor.

Our society equates logic with power, and we believe that we are weak without our ability to think. So when we come to situations where logic is useless, we still elect to continuously analyze it. We don’t understand that sometimes there is no reason. Because of this, we cannot use reason to define something that occurred for no reason.

To solve this problem we need to clear our minds and arrive at something called “no-mind”. This occurs when there are no more thoughts going through a person’s consciousness. That means that thoughts and emotions can pass through the mind, but the person doesn’t attach to them or think about them. It’s like the thoughts are there, but the person doesn’t actively think of them. The thoughts just flow through them and they are detached. Essentially there are thoughts without a thinker.

When have you had no thoughts? Are you able to stop thinking? Let your mind simmer down and when a thought arises, let it go. It doesn’t matter how important you think it is, just let it go. If you practice this, you’ll arrive at holes in your mind. There will be periods where there is no-mind.

Once you accomplish this, you can live life and experience it. You cannot live life in your mind and you cannot control everything. You cannot solve all the problems and apply logic to non-logical situations. By surrendering your control and detaching from your thoughts, you can learn that not everything has to work out in your favor. No amount of logic can control everything.

When you surrender, the illusion of power (or lack-there-of) vanishes. By realizing that you can’t control everything, you realize that you don’t want to control everything. Life is lived by the spontaneity of it.

So when the next time you try to interpret why another person does something, realize that logic doesn’t always apply. Even if you hate to hear it, you can think too much about something. Don’t get caught in that trance because life isn’t about thinking and controlling, it’s about living.

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Tonight I don’t have the energy to write. I just meditayed for the last half an hour to clear my mind. Hopefully through doing this I can be more beneficial to all life and help spread kindness. Clearing my mind should be much more easy than it actually is. Perhaps through longer mediation and through more of it I’ll become more at peace. I can already see many of the ways that meditation has improved my life and the lessons that I’ve learned. Today a guy said, why do you make me angry, to another man. Immediately my mind said, you make yourself feel angry, no one makes you feel anything. This is how I know these lessons are sticking in my head.

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Sitting with Yourself

Becoming mindful during your daily activities is a great way to increase happiness and awareness of self. By leaving thoughts behind you can open your mind to what is in front of you. Daily meditation has been teaching me this more than ever lately. It’s been a great way to become more conscious of life and those around me.

By accepting thoughts as spontaneous, we can learn that they aren’t substantial. Thoughts are merely concepts and have no physical weight. Because they are conceptual, we can realize that we don’t have to focus on them. They don’t have any power.

Thoughts are an endless loop that can go on forever. They do not have to be based on reality and they can cause happiness and unhappiness. When we let our mind wander and we focus on it, we choose to wander with it. What I mean is, when we have a stray thought, we can choose not to think about it. We can accept the thought and let it pass by.

When we cultivate no-mind, that is a mind without focus on the mind, we still have thoughts. It is impossible to have no thoughts permanently. However, we can choose to let the thoughts that we do have. Accepting each thought as a spontaneous concept, we can let go of our slavery to it.

It’s exhausting to constantly be thinking. To be focusing on every possible outcome of every situation. Watching mental movies about what you’re going to say if they person gets mad at you or if your lover decides to separate is exhausting. It’s a useless waste of energy! Imagine all of the things that you are missing while you are daydreaming.

For example, if you drive the same way to work each day, perhaps you “fade out” on your commute. Each day you miss the beauty of the day. You aren’t experiencing anything! These mental movies that you play in your head may or may not ever happen. Most of them will not happen because you think much more than you do anything else. You think more than you do.

Instead, replace those moments with focus and attention. Open your car window, stare out at the guy across the bus from you, meet someone new! Do something! We all want happiness but we spend too much time in a place where there is no happiness. Our minds want us to avoid all negative situations but they make us experience all of those negative moments in our heads. We live all the worst possible situations.

Perhaps you daydream about all the best possible situations instead? Well then you are equally disillusioned! Your life will always let you down if you experience things that are always the best possible situations. It will build an expectation of greatness that will easily be let down.

Do not confuse this with having low expectations or low self-esteem. By removing our focus on our mind we create a place of no expectation and no mind. We focus on what everyone around us is saying rather than what they could be saying in our heads. Our “enemies” are no longer foes because we do not focus on our mind. When we remove our focus from our mind, we live in the present and there is always forgiveness. Why would we hold onto something that is in our minds?

Tonight I want you to take a few breaths before you eat and make a conscious decision to actually taste the food. Take a breath in and literally think “let me taste this food”. Once you taste it, don’t label the food as good or bad, sweet or spice. Just taste it. Don’t think about everything else or how it reminds you of another situations. Just taste the food. It’s a simple task that will forever change your life. Live presently because there is no other place to live.

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2/14 “Sugar Fast”

2/7 days of daily meditation

With mind like water

For most of us, we spend our lives with clouded judgement and have momentary glances at beautiful things. We play movies in our minds of scenarios that could happen. We justify them by thinking they help us prepare for the future. How are we going to respond when our boss yells at us? What witty things are we going to say to give us satisfaction?

Then there are moments when the movies stop and we are somewhat alert to what is going on around us. We see the squirrels running through the yard. Except this time we make judgement, we add to what is in front of us. “My there are many squirrels today” or “they must be destroying the trees”. As humans we like to make assumptions, to try and solve things that aren’t even problems. Then when we find real problems we become stressed out or are quick to judging them.

A common analogy for our perception is viewing life through a pond. When the water is still you can see through the surface but with even the most minor agitation the surface is distorted. When the water becomes chaotic you cannot begin to make out even the reflection from the water.

The agitation in this example is thinking. When we think and identify with our thoughts we cloud what is right in front of us. We could have the most beautiful sunset but not notice it because we are “in our heads”. We’ve shaken the water and now we cannot see.

Lately, much of my life has been about calming those waters. I try to let the thoughts pass through my mind without focusing on them. The thinker that is in our heads is constantly generating thoughts whether we want it to or not. In addition, I do not believe we can ever reach a spot where we do not have thoughts. We can, however, stop constantly associating with them.

Noticing is the first step towards calming your mind and perceptions. Notice when your mind strays from what you’re currently doing. When I’m walking sometimes my mind drifts and I find myself thinking about what I’m going to be doing when I get off work or when the weekend finally arrives. Then what I do is look around and remind myself what is right in front of me. The trees, the grass, the buildings, the smell of the fresh air. I experience what is right in front of me.

It sounds incredibly easy but your mind wanders often and is rarely completely focused. What works for me is using a word to bring back my focus. I won’t go far into the details of mine but I use the Japanese word “Mu”. It means not, or not applicable. However it’s been adapted and is understood in a much more complex way. To me it means is and is not. It’s the duality between everything. Everything is and is not. So when I say the word mu I understand and accept what is going on in my mind but move back into the moment. The thought is but at the same time it is not.

So when I’m walking and my mind wanders I bring my attention back into the moment and say “mu”. It’s as if I acknowledge that my mind is drifted but I don’t skip a beat getting back into the moment. This can be difficult with thoughts that appear “important” but if it’s really that important you can recall it when you have time. As you practice this in your daily life you will become more attuned to everything and notice when your mind wanders.

When the waters start shifting you can notice and calm them. Bringing yourself back into the moment. In another post I’ll write about the value of living in the moment but this is a method of getting back into the moment or living present.

 

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