What is a thought? Where does it come from?
It is world thinking day and I "thought" it would be good to write a blog post on thought and thinking.
Do you ever ponder where your thoughts come from, do you muse over how they arrive, why they wake you at 3am going round and round in your head, do you contemplate where they go, do you consider if they have emotions and feelings attached to them, can you be reflective or the observer of your thoughts without being consumed by them, what does it even mean to be the observer of your thoughts?
This is a deep post for a Monday, but let's dive in.....
In his incredible book "The Power of Now" Eckhart Tolle suggests a short exercise to escape your thoughts and connect with consciousness:
In a quiet moment take a deep breath and ask yourself - What will my next thought be? See how long it takes for a thought to arrive. In this moment "you" are observing your thoughts.
A new study from psychologists at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario reports observations of the transition from one thought to another in fMRI brain scans. Though the researchers didn't detect the content of our thoughts, their method allowed them to count each one. Referred to as "thought worms," the team says that the average human has 6,200 thoughts per day.
Where do our thoughts come from?
Buddha tells a parable of the man shot with a poisoned arrow. the man sitting with the arrow in his body is consumed with the thoughts of where did this arrow come from, before I remove it I need to know, who shot it, why? Where did it came from where did it originate, What type of bow, which tribe did the feathers belong to?
The man is more immediately concerned with these thoughts than thinking about removing the arrow, The arrow in this parable refers to suffering, self generated through the mind and is a practical reminder that we must deal with the root cause of the suffering which at this moment is the poisonous arrow in the body.
Are my thoughts all my own?
Eckhart Tolle tells us that we are part of a collective mind, hypothetical thought bubbles floating around in the collective mind deposit themselves into a vehicle (you) with a similar thought pattern. He uses negativity as an example and this for me could not be more relevant in the recent pandemic, with the vast amount of negativity surrounding it in the news and media.
"Any form of negativity in your own mind, connects to a negative thought in the collective mind and that little negative thought of yours has become something so much bigger.
Emotion, anger, sadness, collective human consciousness, a thought that is picked up from the wider universe, not something that solely belongs to you"
Certain collective thought forms can take control of an entire country - examples we know of such as communism, Thought forms can become perpetuated through the media, basic assumptions and thought forms can come out of the collective and take possession of us. Eckhart tells us that if we have an awareness of this, we can counter react to it.
"If everyone is thinking alike - then no one is thinking" - Benjamin Franklin
I recently read the incredible book "Man's search for meaning" by Viktor Frankl a holocaust survivor. Viktor endured and witnessed true and unspeakable horror, during his time in Auschwitz and other camps, yet in his search for meaning and particularly finding meaning in suffering he states:
"Everything can be taken from a man, but one last thing - the last of the human freedoms - to choose ones attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose ones own way"
Victor also states in terms of finding meaning that if man can find a why, there will always be a how, this is a thought that has stayed with me in the last few days.
Choose positive thoughts
It isn't always easy to be positive, to think positive thoughts, to let go of self sabotage, negative mindset and feelings of despair. Hypnotherapy can help to address previous life events that may have had a negative impact and create negative thought patterns. The subconscious mind is like a data bank, everything you have seen, done, or thought is in there. The good news is that through changing your thoughts you can re wire your brain, you can reduce negative thoughts and create new neural pathways and new more positive ways of thinking. In Hypnotherapy we can help to "reframe" old thoughts, You cannot change the past but you can change the way you think about it.
I LOVE this short video from Sentis on neuroplasticity and changing thought patterns
What else can you do to think more positively?
Find meaning, do activities that spark joy, connect with others
Volunteer, look for ways to show kindness to others
Go to bed with a positive mindset, set some intentions for your day
Learn to meditate
Try journaling, writing
Set yourself some positive affirmations and repeat them to yourself before bed and when you wake up
Limit your use of phone/tablet social media right before sleep and first thing in the morning
Choose Positive news and inspirational content in your newsfeeds, you can choose what you see, choose to see positivity and motivational content.