When I finally got to that point where I was ready to stop adding to that hefty down payment on a house I had already smoked away, I had to turn inward and find out the mechanics behind my addictions. These learnings were instrumental in helping me quit.
Many of us have come to so completely and implicitly believe the quote, ‘I think therefore I am’, that this gross fallacy has led us around blindly through most of our lives. It is not just an inaccurate statement. It is untrue.
We use the words thinking and feeling analogously. Observe how one creates the other. It is important that you do.
The practice of observing thinking and feeling is the first step on the path to freedom.
Thinking is a process
Thinking is a process. You are thinking. That sentence implies an object and a subject – meaning you are engaged in an action. You may be thinking and not aware that you are, or what you were thinking of. Have you ever caught yourself minutes or hours later when you shake yourself out of the fog and pay attention to what or who is around you? Regardless of how long it took you to notice, it is something that you were doing.
This activity is like any other – digestion, inhaling, exhaling, the beating of the heart. It is happening by itself. The difference is that I am not constantly obsessed by how the food has traveled from the mouth to the esophagus to be then pushed by the muscles into the stomach where the mixing of this food along with the gastric juices pushes it to its onward journey in the small intestine…. Ok, you get it.
So why the constant pathological fixation with thinking? I can think of at least two reasons:
1. We have never been trained or even encouraged not to think.
Few of us ever entertain the idea that not everything we think is true or original. And so we continue to do it.
2. The idea that thinking might not be you has rarely been explored.
We identify with thinking. We believe it is who we are. And really, how can you stop being who you are?
If thinking is an activity, one that you are engaged in, then it is like any other process that implies a subject and an object. It is what you are doing or observing. It is not you. If you are looking at a chair, would you even for a second believe that you are that chair (no matter how sturdy or curvy)? Why is this even important? Let me get to that later.
Thinking precedes emotion
Thinking precedes emotion. You are thinking of that cigarette. Or chocolate cake. Or being angry. It is a memory reliving itself. You are imagining the story where someone wronged you, or that deep inhale of the cigarette, the taste of the rich chocolate (ok, whoever you are, step away from the lighter and the fridge). This thought in turn creates an emotion. Meaning there is a gap between the two. Given it’s a very subtle and imperceptible one but there is one.
Going back to why all this is relevant. If you are aware and tuned into your mind when the thought of a cigarette, chocolate cake or anger comes, then you are aware of it, it is not you but only something you are observing. In which case you can choose to let it go. If you continue to observe the thought, you notice it will manifest as an emotion – anger, craving, aversion which leads to a feeling in the body. A constriction in the chest. Saliva in the mouth. A tightness in the stomach. Once again, this phenomenon can be observed without acting upon and seen that it doesn’t last and is temporary.
However far out this sounds in theory, it is practically possible. The practice of observing non-judgmentally the phenomena of the past memory creating a thought and feeling in the present which when just observed and not acted upon loses its potency and hold on you, thus not turning into a habit, will completely alter your life.
This observation of the very subtle and almost instantaneously unfolding phenomena (which most times prompts us to drop whatever we are doing, jump to its attention and obey its every command) is called practicing non-judgmental awareness. Practicing this teaches us how to observe the waves of the mind without drowning in them. And the most effective tool to hone this skill is called Mindfulness Meditation.
This article was contributed by Simrit Gill. At The Naked Label we are inspired and moved by Simrit’s experience and knowledge in Ayurveda and her philosophy that health rests on the Ayurvedic principle of assessing an individual at all levels of their unique physiology of body, mind and spirit. Learn more by visiting her site and clicking here. She will help you heal: body, mind and spirit.
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Photo by Simrit Gill.