Day 15: Mental Constructs
You have made it to the Inner World. The temple. The sanctuary. This is the place where all the things live that you don't share with anyone, yet here you are, ready to take a good, long look in the mirror and face the fears that have been holding you back all this time. Your first step is to take a look at your thoughts and ideas. You constantly have thoughts flowing through your head, one right after the other. In many forms of meditation you will be taught to watch your thoughts as the pass by in your mind, like a movie. While this can be fun and rather entertaining, it is important that you learn a little more about your thoughts so you can truly free yourself from the web they weave.
You are not your thoughts. The fact that you can watch your thoughts pass by in meditation is proof of this. The problem is, when a thought pops into your head that seems rational and logical, it seems very real. While this thought may be pragmatic, it is not real. It is not until a thought is acted upon that it becomes real and even then, it is the action that is real - the thought is still floating around in Æther somewhere. Your thoughts may give your mind something with which to be occupied, and they might even spark some excellent conversations or devise some great plans, but the fact remains: your thoughts are not real.
Your thoughts work in tandem with your mind and serve the same function, to analyze and collect information, so there is nothing wrong with your thoughts. They serve a very important purpose, but your thinking mind is not meant to make decisions. This will get you into trouble. The information that you have taken in and processed is always useful when making a decision and should absolutely be considered. We are not telling you to stop thinking about the choices you make; however, when you do make a choice, make sure you are acting from your heart-space, not your head.
The second problem with your thoughts occurs when you get attached to them. While there is nothing inherently wrong with any thought you might have, what does become a problem is when you get attached to a single thought, or when you get lost in a train of thought. Thinking something over, using your mind to solve puzzles, even deep processing of information are great ways to use your thinking mind - but when you lose yourself in thought, you have a problem. When you get attached to your thoughts in this way, it can be easy to fall into a downward spiral of thinking, which only serves to drop your energy and sour your mood.
When you can accept that your thoughts are not real and start to use them the way they were intended to be used, you will notice significant changes in your life. Your mood will improve, you will have more energy and your interactions with other people will be much more pleasant - for all involved. You can go through the process of detaching from your thoughts and begin to use your mind the way it was intended with this week's Attention Training: Transcending Thoughts. Teach your mind to work with you instead of against you.
Next time you find yourself lost in thought, remember:
You are the master of your thoughts!
Your thoughts do not define who you are.
1. Can you remember any times where your thoughts got you in trouble? What happened? How did you feel before thinking your way into trouble? What lesson can you learn from that time?
2. What happens when you let your thoughts suck you into a downward spiral? How does it feel? How long does it usually take you to pull out of it? What happens in your life while you're stuck in the spiral?
3. When you get attached to a thought, what are some of the consequences that occur in your life? What happens to your communication? How does it feel when you get really attached to a thought?