Whether we realise it or not most of us have become addicted to thinking. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to stop thinking for a few moments whenever we wanted a break?
We are addicted to thinking, we fundamentally believe it makes us who we are. And, just like any other addiction, it is hard to shake the habit. I hear it all the time, ‘I can’t to stop thinking’.
With regular addictions, we the option of cold turkey. Get rid of it, kick it out of our lives for good and ‘grin and bare’ the consequences.
Thinking is different
We often talk about our five main senses smelling, touching, hearing, tasting and seeing. In fact, we have many other like our thinking and feeling.
Just like hearing sounds or seeing images you are receiving thoughts. Think about that for a moment. It’s normally quite a hard thing to grasp.
You are receiving thoughts.
We are conditioned to think that our thoughts are who we are. If you are your thoughts, try stopping them!
We’re not the sounds we hear. We’re not the visions we see and we’re not the seat that we can feel when we are sat on it.
So, why do we believe we are our thoughts?
It’s because they come from within. We find it hard to separate ourselves from the things that arise within us. This also goes with our feelings. We also talk about them as if they are us.
I am angry.
I am lonely.
I am excited.
I am depressed.
We don’t say ‘I am that sound’ when we hear a train go by. Although, the sound still arises within us!
The thoughts in your head are not you, they are just one part of how your body works.
So how do we achieve this peace of mind?
The best we can achieve is some control over the thinking. Taming the monkey mind. So, instead of our thoughts bouncing from one random thought to another we intercept them and decide whether we want to go with them or not.
How do we stop thinking?
Can you stop the noise of the train from entering your mind?
You can’t, there is no off switch. Realising this will stop a lot of frustration while searching for the elusive off switch. We can do some things to reduce what goes into our ears. Earplugs, move
All is not lost… We can do some things to reduce what goes into our ears. Earplugs, move somewhere quieter or simply turn off the radio.
Thinking is similar, although we don’t have a simple way of putting a block between the thoughts and hearing the thoughts. Also, we can live without sound we cannot function without some thinking.
Yeah, I know, some people appear to never think!!
Creating gaps between thoughts
You can create gaps between thoughts. As well as recognise when you’re thinking and decide to change your current thought.
Try thinking of your favourite ice cream; you’re sat eating and enjoying every mouthful. Now think of a situation you don’t like, an experience that makes you feel quite miserable. Now try thinking of both at the same time.
Instead, you flip from one to the other.
Congratulations, you now know you can control your thoughts.
The next step is realising there is always a gap between thoughts. Now slow your reading down until you’re reading one word every couple seconds. After you have done this for the next couple sentences, you will realise between the words there is no thinking.
Congratulations, now you know there are brief periods where you can have no thinking and there are tricks you can do to create the ‘no thinking’.
In steps meditation.
Let’s demolish few myths right now.
- Forget the image of a Monk meditating for hours.
- Meditation is not removing our thoughts.
- Forget the thought ‘you cannot meditate’ everyone thinks that before learning to meditate very well.
Primarily, you need to decide whether you want to take control of your thoughts or continue to allow them to control you.
So how do you create longer gaps between thinking?
You do it by taking time out, becoming present, being aware of what is going on in the present moment.
Sounds simple, right?
That part is the simple part. The difficulty is remembering and not following your thoughts.
Sit for 30 seconds and concentrate on your breathing. Try it now.
I’m betting, within 10 seconds your mind wandered onto some thought. Probably regarding time, and how do you time 30 seconds or something similar. You probably missed a few breaths and then came back to it.
It is that returning to the present, to the breath that creates a neuro network in your mind they give you the tools to find peace of mind in any situation.
Right now, if you slow down enough, you will realise this moment is okay as it is. It is your thinking that makes this moment something different.
Try this 2 minutes guided meditation. You’ll realise that peace of mind is always available. It’s this awareness you need to cultivate into your daily life. And, that’s what meditation teaches us to do.
Like I said, the hardest part is remembering when the whole world is going crazy, demanding your attention and you don’t know where to turn. That’s the time when we are least present.
To cultivate mindfulness into those times, you need to establish a meditation or mindfulness practice.
It is too much to put in a single article.
Don’t fret; I’ve got you covered. If you’re on my newsletter list or you downloaded my book (If not click here to get it) above I will teach you exactly how to establish a practice that suits your life that will give you peace of mind when you need it most.