Thoughts are little voices produced nonstop by our mind. Zen talks about “thinking zombie” or “day sleep walking”. Have you ever tried not to think for 10sec.? Or even 2 sec.? Or even 1 sec.? Impossible. The mind produces thoughts like the sun produces light.
Our mind is a first class storyteller who keeps on chatting and babbling. When the mind is talking nonstop we, as listeners, are condemned to listen nonstop too. It is like having the radio on all the time even when we don’t want it. Listening to us all the time is boring, tiring and pretty annoying.
Our mind interfering with everything is shooting ideas, opinions and judgments 24/7 about ourselves, others and in fact it will judge anything including subjects for which we have no formal knowledge or experience. This thinking robot mind is like a nonstop conveyor belt shouting thousands of thousands of thoughts and judgments during the day.
Thoughts and feelings tend to hang out together like 2 good friends. They rarely see eye to eye, but they keep seeking each other out for a date. Strangely enough many of our feelings are either worries about self, others, work, money or desires and illusions without immediate solution.
Does our thought & emotion conveyor belt ever stop? Can we stop this outflow?
Try this: Take a deep breath, close your eye and decide to think about nothing. What do you notice? You keep thinking... about not thinking or to think about nothing. We simply cannot stop incoming thoughts.
Is it so bad? Not at all because if we don’t have the power to stop them from coming we have the power to delete them.
How? We can learn to be aware of the new thought that is to be mindful or to pay attention to it. Being mindful to a thought or emotion is adding a second thought to the first one or adding a thought of the thought.
In other word you are imposing to your mind to have 2 thoughts at the same time: the initial one and the “thought of the thought”. Here is the trick: despite its enormous power human mind cannot process 2 thoughts at the same time and one has to go. Click the delete button of the initial one.
Thought and feeling cannot be stopped but they can be neutralized and controlled simply by being aware of them.
Common sense is telling us that it is impossible to control something without first being able to be aware of it. To be conscious of x, y, z is the initial mandatory step in order to take action. If you are not aware of a water leak in your basement you are not going to call the plumber.
Thoughts and feelings can be overwhelming and become a major threat to our wellbeing.
Practicing Zen meditation is learning how to be mindful or to be aware of our incoming thoughts and feelings in order to neutralize them.
By controlling them we also learn not to believe in everything we think.
Our mind is always very busy but we can choose whether to engage with one of its thoughts or simply to let it go. Remember that the huge majority of our thoughts and judgments are spontaneous and without any purpose such as making a decision. In this case learning to be mindful to them in order to control them will bring a minimum of serenity.
It is up to you to decide whether you want to believe in your thoughts or simply say “Just a sec.“ that is looking at them mindfully with a smile and saying: “thank you but no thanks”
Ven. Ji Gong Sunim. July 2015