“Make no mistake–to see a fixation within ourselves because someone explains it to us is not enough. It’s not enough to have somebody lay it out for you. It must be discovered in oneself, for oneself.” – Adyashanti The End of Your World
So many of my blogs start off with me saying that “I’m probably not the right guy to be doing this.” Welp, this blog is no different.
(Who lets me write? The First Amendment, boy. That’s who. Merica’.)
Trying to understand the entire process behind how thoughts and emotions work is a complex task. One that can take us down a rabbit hole so deep, that sooner or later we’d end up coming across the bones of Alice. Considering how deep that rabbit hole can go, again, this makes me the least qualified guy to be doing this. But here I fucking am coming at you live, cheers, m8’s.
This week’s topic is next in line because, on a rudimentary level, we have to be able to understand how our thought process works, this is essential. Another, “non-negotiable” in this series. If we don’t know how something works––this goes for pretty much anything in life––we have zero control over it. The mind is no different.
As you become more aware of watching the Thinking Mind and Observing Mind battle it out, things are going to get squirrely for a little bit. Actually, a lot of bit (go with it). There’s usually a disorientation period that comes with “awakening.” Without getting into “fancy talk,” all that’s happening is you’re now viewing life through a different perspective. So, if we’re able to gather a better understanding of how this system operates––even on a base level––it will be an invaluable tool that will make this transition period of your life flow a lot smoother.
I’m only going to leave you with, what I think you, absolutely need to know about how our thought process works, and the key role that attachment plays. I want to try and keep this as simple as I can. I think that’s it for now. Short intro. Down the rabbit hole we go.
“What’s more useful is to understand that to be disoriented is part of the process of awakening; it is natural to be disoriented , because everything is new. You are new, your perception is new, and your perception of everything and everyone has now changed.” – Adyashanti The End of Your World
You Are Not Your Thoughts
Let’s start here.
Trying to nail down what direction to head in with this blog was a rough one. But, at the end of the day, there are two components of the thought process that I think is vital to grasp. Like, firmly grasp it.
The first part of this process that I want to get into is what I touched on last week––I want to continue to break down how the Thinking Mind, Observing Mind, this “Sacred Pause,” and attachment, all go hand in hand. This is going to play a major role in how well you’re able to navigate through the torrential waters of this disorientation period.
What I’m going to do is re-work and clean up a section from my blog Going Johnny Deep because I feel that it gives a better understanding into how unconscious attachment to our thoughts and emotions can fuck our world up!
Quick, context for those who didn’t read it; this was based on my time during my first seven-day silent meditation retreat.
Let’s do it.
Theres nothing wrong with having thoughts; the problem is only when we identify with those thoughts. When we think this is me, this is mine. Attachment to a thought makes us grasp and cling and by the end, we feel lost.” – Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (How’s that for a name?)
“How many times have you heard the phrase “you are not your thoughts?” Now, out of all those times, how many times have you thought about it? Has it ever clicked for you? We can hear something a hundred times and still not grasp the concept. But, when it crosses our path for that hundred and first time, and our eyes finally light up, it means that our level of understanding is where it needs to be.
We as humans can be a silly bunch. We think that if we can’t analytically solve an issue then there’s no way around it. Exhibit A: me trying to come to an analytical understanding of what “you are not your thoughts” meant. As you’ll see with this story, however, sometimes in life we just need to shut up, hop in the back seat, and leave it up to experience to lead the way.
On the second night of the retreat, I was deep in meditation when I noticed a thought arise out of nowhere; was like a random air bubble surfacing in a still pond. The thought was letting me know that I had to take a piss. Actually, the exact thought was “this shit sucks; I have to take a piss so fucking bad right now”––the Thinking Mind in action. But, when I took a second to check in with the thought––the Observing Mind in action––zero part of me had to go to the bathroom.
A similar scenario happened on the third night of the retreat; I found myself in another deep meditation thinking “fuck Marko, it was all his fault.” Again, when I checked in with that thought, I realized, I don’t even know a Marko!
So, what’s your point, Justin?
My point is this, in both of those incidents, I truly believed those thoughts––or I should say, I thought there was some validity to them since they were my thoughts and all. I felt like I was certain that I had to take a piss and I could feel the anger starting to creep up from the depths as I thought about this mysterious Marko character.
What other thoughts are we having like this––that hold no truth––but yet without the presence to catch them in action (Observing Mind coming to our rescue yet again) we often find ourselves unconsciously getting swept away by their current? Take a minute to think about how this could be a potential issue throughout your life. Like, for reals, for reals.
If I wasn’t present in that exact moment, I could have easily been swept away by that feeling of anger that was attached to the thought of Marko––and that feeling of rage was nothing more than an emotion attached to a random thought. There was no legitimacy to it. It was an empty emotion that would have gained control over me if I wasn’t consciously aware.
If I identified to that feeling of anger, 9 out of 10 times that will lead to a new negative thought. The second we identify, it becomes painfully hard to regain control. Keep that up, and from that new negative thought, we now find ourselves continuing to identify with new negative emotions unconsciously. Rinse and fucking repeat anywhere from 30 minutes, to an entire day.
I could have been in a terrible mood for that entire night, all thanks to fucking Marko. And, the cherry on top, I would have never even known why I was in a shitty mood in the first place if I would have unconsciously identified with that feeling of anger…C’mon son!
So! Are you not seeing how crazy the inner landscape of the mind can be?! Are you not seeing how easy it is to get swept away by unconscious identification if we’re not paying attention? Are you not seeing how this can be a potentially massive hurdle in our lives? We need to wake up, guys. And when I say “wake up,” it’s nothing more than saying, are you moving through life consciously or unconsciously?
Were you present on your entire commute to work or do you show up wondering how you even got there?
Do you read a chapter in a book only to find out you can’t recall a single thing that you just read?
Do you often find yourself upset for saying the wrong thing even though you didn’t mean it?
How many times do you misplace your keys, phone, etc.? (This one’s for me.)
Do you daydream/zone-out a lot?
These are all unconscious behaviors that propel us through life on auto-pilot, but moving through life on auto-pilot is not truly living, man. The lights are on but nobody’s ever home. Ask yourself, who’s really running the show here?”
“We must see which thoughts generate which feelings, and which thoughts are generated from feelings. It is a cycle: a thought creates a feeling; and that feeling creates the next thought––which then creates the next feeling…
For example, if we do something that makes us feel silly or embarrassed, our mind might have thought, “I shouldn’t have done that,” or “That was stupid of me.” If you take a thought that small and you start to really open it, you’ll see right away that thought and feeling are linked; one is actually the doorway into the other. The thought, “I shouldn’t have done that,” comes with a feeling––perhaps embarrassment or anger. In this we see the inner worldview of the thought and how it pulls us into identification.” – Adyashanti The End of Your World
Changing Our State of Being
“The more we think the same thoughts, which then produce the same chemicals, which cause the body to have the same feelings, the more we physically become modified by our thoughts. In this way, depending on what we are thinking and feeling, we create our state of being. What we think about and the energy or intensity of these thoughts directly influences our health, the choices we make, and, ultimately, our quality of life.” – Dr. Joe Dispenza
Now that we understand how attachment plays its role, I want to end with how the way we think affects us on a physiological level. Why you ask? Because, like peanut butter & jelly, waking up is joined by realization. And with this new realization we might be taken back by the way that we’ve been talking to ourselves––part of where this disorientation comes into play. But if we understand that we can change the way we think––through neuroplasticity––we won’t feel like we’re lost in an eternal hell of negative internal dialogue.
First off, these are nothing more than the stories we tell ourselves. Dig that shameless plug? Puh-dow.
Second, it’s so important that once we do become aware of this type of self-talk, we begin to run all future behavior/self-talk through a strict filter.
If we’re not careful, we can become addicted to this type of negative self-talk. Yes, it is possible to become addicted to a way of thinking. The crazy part is, it’s not even you who’s addicted to this way of thinking. It’s your body that’s addicted to it, on top of an unhealthy ego that feeds off of this way of thinking.
As our lives begin to shape around this negative way of thinking, it slowly wreaks havoc on our bodies. The way we think––good or bad––pumps chemicals into the body under those thoughts. This is why people become addicted to being depressed, miserable, angry, having anxiety, or feelings of never being good enough. This is what the body knows. It is used to getting a hit from those chemicals that are released every time we have those type of thoughts. The person is obviously not addicted to those shitty feelings, but the body is. Why do you think it’s so hard to change?
Very few people are willing to put in the work to change because we’ve grown accustomed to instant gratification. If we don’t get results right away, we’re not interested. But unfortunately, that’s not how the body works.
If we genuinely want to change the way we think––the way we interact with the world––then we have to work at it daily. We have to remind ourselves of our worth; we have to tell ourselves how grateful we are for the things that we have in our life; we have to use daily affirmations that help us keep our spirits high; we have to monitor our behavior by being honest with ourselves. I know this sounds silly. Trust me.
I use to be that hardcore cynic that viewed this way of thinking as a joke. Actually, from time to time, I still can be. But you know what? That’s the ego. That’s the ego thinking it’s above this way of interaction with the world. Truth is though, if I were, my life would be sunshine and rainbows. But it’s not, more like constant Nor’easters with a little patch of a rainbow that you catch in the clouds, only if you squint really hard.
Such an underrated aspect of life is taking care of our mental health. The way you think and how you interact with the world affects you more than you know.
I can sit here and confidently tell you that everyone, at one point or another if they haven’t already, has wanted to change for the better, only to find themselves still stuck in their old ways. Why? Because it’s fucking hard, man! And this is the exact reason why! It’s not you, just know that. It takes time combined with honest effort. Keep that in mind. But also, don’t think this gives you a hall pass to continue to be a douche. Cut the shit asshole.
I may not be able to articulate the correct steps on how change works, but I’m not the guy for that. We went over this countless times. But hopefully, I can help point you in the right direction so that you can do the work for yourself.
Between last week’s blog, Becoming Aware, and everything we just went over, they will help get you ready for next week. Spoiler alert: it will be the most challenging blog out of the series. All I can say is begin to watch yourself on a daily basis. Begin to confront yourself. Begin to examine how you feel. Begin to question your thoughts. Begin to challenge what you say and what you do. Begin to take an interest as you notice the darker aspect of your behavior. Do that, and it’ll get you (somewhat) ready for next week.
“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become.” – Margaret Thatcher
Edited by: Patricia Hendriks