Well, actually, we can easily go up to 70 000, but let’s not split hairs…
Now, a few questions. Please take the time to think about your answers.
What percentage of this staggering number are you in control of?
Actually, what percentage of this number are you even aware of?
And now for an even trickier question – what percentage of this incredible amount of psychic energy serves you? How many thoughts actually boost you up, support, comfort, help, reassure you?
From the moment we wake up until the sweet oblivion of sleep, we create thoughts – up to 4 simultaneously!
We also create thoughts while we’re asleep, but they’re more akin to sorting out the daily files, and are quite unconscious. Let us focus on the (barely) conscious thoughts for now.
Thoughts are what make us experience life the way we do
Our thoughts are our most intimate environment. They filter everything we experience. For instance, two people spending the same day in the sun may have a radically different experience – one will be happy as a lark, thinking she’s sucking in vitamin D, and the other one will be miserable, thinking he’s getting burned. Same day, different thoughts – ultimately very different experience.
What is striking about our thought process is that
– It never stops
– It has the most extreme influence on our experiences – ultimately on our LIVES
– We are mostly completely unaware of it
Why we want to keep our mind busy
We may learn many things in order to keep our minds occupied, or we may become experts at distracting and numbing ourselves, through TV, video games, alcohol, sports, or work. Some options are more societally acceptable than others. We may try to control our environment to the max, thinking to avoid unpleasant thoughts that way. We may sometimes relish thoughts of anger or depression, because they seem to scratch an itch. The ancient Romans had apparently figured out the 2 basic necessities of humans – “Panem et Circenses” – food and games. So we keep moving, always trying to keep a step ahead of our thoughts, trying to show them shiny baubles, as you would try to distract a baby – the attention span is about the same.
For most of us, the race is relentless and we (although which ‘we’?) do not always come out on top. Those are the days when we feel blue.
Slowing down and facing your thoughts
Choosing to practice meditation is choosing to stop running like a headless chicken. It is the choice to stop looking for something new… and then something else… and something else again. It is the choice to stop jumping from burning platform to burning platform.
We stop. We turn around. We sit and wait. We face what our minds have been churning all this time.
It is the choice of intellectual integrity. As long as we do not face ourselves, we do not know ourselves. If we do not know ourselves, we live our lives like sleepwalkers. We are steered randomly, half-hazardly by unexamined memories, beliefs, thoughts and emotions.
It is the choice of mental health. I can guarantee there are many critical, nasty thoughts we all swallowed and adopted – off-handed comments we heard, bullying, judgments – that undermine us daily.
It is the choice of self-love. By becoming aware of our thoughts, we can decide which ones are useful to us, and which ones are not. Which ones are outdated, which ones make us happy, which ones we ‘deserve’, which ones do not need to hurt us anymore.
It is the choice of mastery. The mind is a wonderful, peerless servant, but it is a very bad master. When our thoughts jump around and yank us (and attack us!) any which way, we are not at peace with ourselves and aligned with our purpose. This is called the ‘monkey mind’.
In thousands of years of religions, psychology, science, the one technique that has consistently worked to assuage our anxiety and suffering is meditation.
We hope you join us on this extraordinary trip of self-discovery.