Stopping thoughts, a real challenge

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Robert Maurer

Stopping thoughts, a real challenge

Even when we stop thinking, we think. And who meditates? Is there any way to stop the thoughts? Maybe only when you stop judging them.

Last update: June 27, 2020

It may seem strange, but even when we try hard not to think, we continue to do so. Everyone knows that stopping thinking is a very complicated task. Medicines can help, as can oriental meditation, which however is subject to a certain skepticism. Since men and women are not "enabled" to stop thoughts, what we can do is impose a certain will or control over them.. That is to move the discourse from thought to "thought": objects, people and topics on which our concentration will fall.

The mind, being always awake, generates thoughts and emotions by itself. We can say that 90% or more are generated without intentionality. The problem, if anything, is that when you are too focused or rigid on thoughts or emotions, you end up making them your own. And it takes just 2 or 3 seconds of attention to capture our whole mind and start thinking again. But is it really impossible to stop thoughts?

Focus on a mental object - whether or not it is a copy of the real world - it usually leads to rumination and discomfort, increasing the chances of mental bias. Just like in the case of confirmation bias.

This type of cognitive bias is a person's tendency to prioritize information that confirms their thesis, preconceived ideas, or assumptions, regardless of whether it is true or not. We cannot change what we are experiencing no matter how hard we try to do so. We can, however, stop fighting with what is actually there.

We are so used to dealing with certain aspects of life that we have automated them. Knowing how thoughts are formed can help us distance ourselves from internal conflicts and improve our relationships with others.

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. "

-Thich Nhat Hanh-

The metaphor of the sushi conveyor belt

Imagine a black colored dog. In reality he is just a black dog, but to that thought you will add mental concepts of emotional proximity, such as: "he looks like my ex's dog", "I miss him when we were together", "I wish I could see her again", "my life hasn't a lot of sense now ”…. In short, a real avalanche of thoughts.

You cannot stop the thoughts, but at least you can stop and observe them. This means trying to let go of those concepts, observing them as they come and go without chasing them or adding more content than they already have. The following video (in English) will tell you about the metaphor of the sushi conveyor belt. This is a good example for disengaging from unnecessary and repetitive thoughts.

Compassion helps minimize the impact of negative events that occur. It is not a question of erasing the negative emotions that certain events can cause, but of reducing their intensity.

"The main cause of unhappiness is never the situation, but one's thoughts about it."

-Eckhart Tolle-

Thoughts are just thoughts

What we think makes immediate sense in our interpretation of the world. Adopting a position that is far from that of "judge" of one's own thoughts will surely lead to a kinder view of the world. We will also have an advantage in choosing the currents from which it is better to let ourselves be carried away.

What information do we send to the brain when we go through or think about an unpleasant situation? If we process them only on an emotional level, we will enter the delicate terrain of distorted thoughts, with their corresponding errors in the processing of stimuli.

Automatic negative thoughts cannot be stopped. They are produced, in many cases, in a complicated way and fueled by cognitive distortions. However, it is possible to identify and understand how they work in order to reduce the appearance and maintenance of a wide variety of dysfunctional behaviors and emotions.

Most human pain is unnecessary. It is created by ourselves, as long as the mind does not observe its own life in a lively way.

All problems are mental illusions. There are no problems, only situations, contingencies that must be faced or on which we must not intervene. And accept, as a nuance of a moment, until they change or are cured in some way. We cannot stop thoughts, but we can give them the right importance.

By living life, we will acquire the fundamental experience to evolve. And how do you know if an experience is the right one? It will always be the right one, because it will be the one we have to live in at that moment.

"My experience tells me that a lot of the things I thought would go wrong then, in the end, they ended up better than expected."

-Mary Doria Russell-

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