Re-Think What You Think about Controlling Thoughts
Most of us find ourselves at some point along our paths through life looking for an intellectual, spiritual or mystical way to learn to control or master our thoughts. Intuitively we know that everything in our human experience is rooted in what we imagine to be our thoughts; that contained in them is both cause and solution to all our problems. As human beings with feelings, we also tend to put a lot of credence into validating the emotions we experience, and certainly it can be helpful to examine and understand emotions too, yet deep self-inquiry will always reveal that they, too, are ultimately an effect of the thoughts we choose to uphold. Controlling thoughts has long been a futile attempt to control life.
Thoughts as we perceive them, all those we choose to uphold in our minds, are never neutral. Nor are they impotent – never are they without effects of some kind. They are either positive or negative, producing effects within us and often in the world based on how we evaluate them. This little nugget, often overlooked, is very important. It reminds us that we are the ones evaluating and assigning the charge of positive or negative – assigning the meaning thoughts have for us – based primarily on the self-image we choose to uphold – our identity – and the belief systems we form and sustain in support of that identity. Granted, we are conditioned and indoctrinated into established cultural, societal and other belief systems, yet still however, on some conscious level we consent to adopting even those too, or not.
“Intuitively we know that everything in our human experience is rooted in what we imagine to be our thoughts; that contained in them is both cause and solution to all our problems.”
So… if we could just learn to control our thoughts, finally then we imagine this world and life itself would be truly spectacular! Right?
Neither the Flow nor the Content of Thoughts Was Ever the Problem
Wisdom and experience says, “Not so.” Not only is this desire to control thoughts short-sighted, it also would not serve us to be able to turn the flow of thought on or off at will. Our experience of life can change dramatically by allowing just one seemingly random inspired thought to rise in our Awareness and take form. What a handicap it would be, and what a dull, uninspired life experience, to miss out on the wonders and gifts of inspiration. Putting into practice what follows below, one will surely come to discover that all thought can be inspired (in-spirit-ed ) when we open ourselves to accepting and receiving the flow of thought as being just that.
Thoughts ebb and flow; they rise and fall in Awareness. Attempting to control that natural flow would be like the ocean trying to control its waves in the midst of all that can influence them, like weather, the tide, the moon, etc. One could say, too, that when we are open to inspiration, the flow of thought becomes more like a channel of communication – a conscious link connecting us with our divine Source. Another word for this communication link is intuition. When we come to see and let it be that, it’s certainly not something we want to shut off.
Some will say, having practiced deep meditation for years, that they can maintain stillness in the mind. Certainly yes of course, but that is something altogether different than controlling thoughts. Stillness is a state of allowance and non-resistance. Thoughtlessness can often be a temporary result, but the purpose of cultivating stillness is not to block or blot out thoughts. Rather it is to condition our minds at will to clear an open channel to clearly hear and receive inspiration, an intuitive thought, a.k.a. Guidance, whenever and in whatever form it arises. Controlling thoughts, however, either their content or when or how they should or shouldn’t dawn on the mind… that is a fruitless endeavor.
Driven by an Insatiable Desire for Something ‘Else’: “I Need Things around Me to be Different”
We want to control our thoughts primarily for two reasons: (1) because we feel, and often suffer, their effects; and (2) because we manifest and surround ourselves with the environments we prefer to imagine and thus uphold as thoughts in our minds. Control these thoughts and we control our world – or so we believe. This underpins the reason why ‘manifesting’ became such a popular thing since the film The Secret came out. Most may resist this, some will have contempt and refuse to consider it, but under its silky, shiny, magical covers, conscious or intent-driven manifesting boils down to a desire, need or demand for control :
One cannot but see a ‘usurp’ mentality at play here. There is no inclusion of Guidance, no following of intuition and no Awareness open to the fact that things are always exactly as they need to be in order to show us the way to awaken from the dream of suffering. That is the true call of every heart. This mindset is a decision made instead to seek ways to dream up a better dream rather than to awaken from it entirely. It cannot but produce a deep internal – often unconscious – conflict.
“All thought can be inspired when we open ourselves to accepting and receiving the flow of thought as just that.”
Still, many of us are completely unaware that we have any part in the process of manifesting the world we perceive, let alone take responsibility for its effects. Shifting from a subconscious to a conscious, intent-driven process is not nearly as revolutionary as one might like to believe. The Secret and all the teachers it spawned omit a key disclosure – that there is not a moment in time in our human experience here when we are not manifesting our physical experience. Learning to attempt to direct the manifesting ‘process’ through conscious intent may sound good and may very well appear at times to produce agreeable results, but these results will no more fill the abstract sense of emptiness we humans feel than anything other pursuit in this world. There will grow in the doer the need for more – a desire for a second exotic car in the garage, a bigger house, a jet plain perhaps, always more in the bank accounts. There’s no getting around the fact that the one wanting to control thoughts is also the one wanting to control manifesting its preferred things and outcomes.
Most people perceive themselves as victims of the world they see; a world which they, themselves, are manifesting, unaware they are manifesting it essentially to project and protect a self-image they’ve made of how they wish to see and present themselves – a body, a persona, a perceiver, a self-seeking leading character who is substitute for their Self. Modern psychology refers to this character as the ego. The term “ego” has been assigned so many convoluted meanings it can seem highly abstract, but it all boils down to a deeply rooted thought/belief system , a self-made program, manifest by a thought and subsequent desire to be something other than what and Who we are created to be. Being part of the mind, it can also be ingenious, albeit often also insane.
Who is the One Wanting Control?
We can all today see the effects of this desire ‘to be something else’ and see the effects of all our myriad thoughts sustaining that desire play out on the screen of the world in countless forms of suffering. We were created as limitless, timeless (eternal) extensions of Spirit – as Light and Love – but the ego would usurp and hide our Light from our Awareness and, hijacking and misusing the mind, it would convince us we are something else, something less, something weaker, darker and far more limited. The ego is a fundamental identity conflict in the mind and its weapons of choice in that conflict are guilt, manipulation and fear.
When we really stop and look at all this very closely – who is it that would want to limit, control or stop the flow of thought, the flow of communication – which must also include cutting off inspiration and intuition? Who… but the ego? It is the ego ‘self’ that wants to shut off the flow of thought at will so that You, as your true spiritual Self, Awareness, will be deaf and oblivious not only to inspiration and intuition, but also deaf and blind to the ego itself. The ego is an expert in stealth, and will use its stealth, the mind and any means necessary to minimize or prevent you from communing with your Source, lest you become re-minded of your Self, your true Identity, thereby effectively, irrevocably, ending ego’s reign as usurper – as stand-in for You. This blocking of communication is directly reflected in the world today as the ‘establishment’ seeks to censor and control free speech and block the flow of accurate news and information.
“When we are open to inspiration, the flow of thought becomes more like a channel of communication – a conscious intuitive link connecting us with our divine Source.”
Ultimately the ego cannot but fail in its efforts to control the flow of thought, so it defaults to plan B – distraction. The plethora of distractions in our world today, having increased exponentially in recent decades in direct proportion and in direct opposition to our ‘collective’ spiritual awakening, are a manifestation of the ego’s desperate, but feeble attempts to control, shut down and block inspiration and the flow of intuition. All this is ultimately done to prevent one thing – your awareness of your true Self, of your true Identity. Why? Because no one becoming Self-aware chooses to maintain an ego, a false identity – an imagined ‘version’ of themselves. Having been restored to the Light of oneSelf, clearly seeing now how the ego thought system was a choice all along, we choose again, differently and thus common awareness is transmuted into a persistent joyful and peaceful spiritual Awareness.? ⇢ ?
A Practical & Simple Way to Cultivate Awareness, Silence the Ego & Heal Your Mind
Now we can circle back to the primary point of this post. Having the understanding above enables the following to make perfect sense. None of us were given a ‘manual for the mind’ upon our arrival here. If we had, some form of what is offered below would have been included. What follows is spiritual alternative to the ego’s need to control thoughts. This will instead help you (1) dramatically improve the effects the thoughts you choose to uphold will have in your experience, and most importantly, (2) will help you dramatically improve your ability to hear that one soft Voice of intuition and inspiration – Guidance – above all the white noise produced by the flow of thought. This may serve you very well if you choose to adopt it into your thought process going forward:
- ? Stop taking ownership of thoughts as “my” thoughts. Most of us have deeply ingrained the idea of “my thoughts” into our belief systems. In doing so, you falsely teach or program the mind (1) that it is you and (2) that it, as you, is a possessor of thoughts rather than a host for your Self and a conduit for thoughts; a channel for communication. This habitual, embedded programming, perhaps more than anything else, contributes to the formation and ongoing development of an ego or false self-image – one that can wreak all manner of havoc in your life, having been quite literally handed the keys and full access to the creative faculties of your mind.
By this mind-made ego-self, we quite literally can become possessed. The self-programming of “my thoughts”blocks intuition and inspiration because you only look for and accept those thoughts you consider to be “your” thoughts. Inspiration and intuition are not perceived as being “yours,” so they’re often overlooked, paid no attention to or missed entirely, when in fact they are ever-present. Additionally, what can appear as very dark thoughts can pass though the mind, and if you ‘own them all’ you may feel intense guilt over random, fantasy-based thoughts. These can depress people, drive them mad, or drive them to do horrific things, all because they claim perceive them as “my thoughts.”
- ? Uphold only peaceful and loving thoughts that rise in Awareness. This is not to imply judgment, but a simple resonance, or not; a relationship one has with thoughts as they arise. Those thoughts that are not gentle, kind, peaceful and loving – just let them rise, fall and dissolve away; let them pass by. Upholding a thought, as mentioned throughout this article, is a subtle decision to elevate it. To “uphold” a thought is to ponder it, play with it in your Awareness, observe it, inspect it, entertain or contemplate it – to give it your power of attention.Just becoming more aware of this, you will naturally and effortlessly come to see the difference between upholding vs. allowing pass-through of thoughts. It becomes easy to simply let them pass, especially when you practice #1 above and no longer own them as your own – everything shared here is built upon that principle.
“As long as I think in dualistic terms, as long as I am caught in this dualistic process, there must be conflict.” ~ Krishnamurti
- ? Observe and release the impulse to evaluate, judge and assign meaning to thoughts. Thoughts in the ‘ocean’ of thought energy are neutral. They are certainly not impotent, but they are neither positive (+) or negative (-) until we label them one way or the other, having chosen to uphold them. Then, under the influence of a duality-seeking ego and unaware of the potency of thought energy, we tend to judge them as good or bad, right or wrong, pleasurable or painful, etc. These are arbitrary poles that we make up in our minds (and manifest out in the world). They have nothing to do with Truth, Reality or the here and now. Most often we judge them based on our past experience, which is severely limited at best. You will find that by not judging thoughts within you, the impulse to evaluate, judge and label people, places and things in the world will fall away also. This paves the way for lasting peace in the mind and a persistently joyous heart.
- ? Invest attention, i.e. value, only in those thoughts that bring peace, light and joy. With or without your intent, you teach yourself (a.k.a. program yourself) and then extend out to the world what you teach, all the time. You will give what you choose to receive. Your heart is made full and remains full – or not – not by what you get, but by what you give; what you extend. We are created as Love to extend the Love we receive – that includes extending what we receive though this inner communication, through intuition, even revelation; to communicate the communication we receive. This is why spiritual people so often feel a deep calling to share their experiences and insights, and are filled by doing so.Also however, as stated in #3, we are wise not to deny, judge or resist the dark or conflicting thoughts that we’d prefer to just let pass, because to do so only gives them our power of attention, energy and a sense of reality. To do this produces the same result as upholding them and valuing them, only these are undesirable. It matters not though – the outcome will be the same and we will both feel and extend their effects out in the world too, if we are not mindful.
- ? Invest belief only in those thoughts you want to see manifest in space & time. Think of belief as a magic power and use it very wisely. It’s not called “make-believe” for nothing. Belief is an active power used to serve you in the present, not a passive one to collect and store a bunch of beliefs formed and held onto from the past. Those only become limits to present experience. Excessive resistance to a thought or an idea, i.e. denial, is the same as investing belief, and will have the same result. To put a lot of effort into resisting or denying something you must believe it’s worthy of such resistance and denial. That’s all the belief required to produce a physical manifestation of a ‘bad’ idea. Imagining and investing belief in an ‘adversary’ and you will surely manifest one worthy of your belief.Instead of holding, protecting, defending, defining and identifying yourself by a set of past-based beliefs, let new beliefs form and linger just long enough to serve you. Then let them fall back into nothingness, just like thoughts. It’s neither necessary nor wise to store beliefs.
Finally, a word about mediation. With or without any technique, mediation is also highly recommended. It’s a wonderful and very powerful practice for cultivating stillness, which is essentially restoring the mind to its natural, open and clear state, free of all the distractions of this world. Paradoxically, this ’emptiness’ is mindfulness.
Some Closing Thoughts
In our world, the mind gets the blame for so much of our problems, even by a lot of spiritual ‘thought leaders,’ mentors and advisers out there claiming, “Spirituality is a battle between the heart and mind.” This is simply a fallacy. What they often neglect to consider or clarify is that when they blame the mind, they’re really referring to an ego-hijacked mind. It’s never the mind that is cause of our problems, but always our misuse of it.
“It is from your peace of mind that a peaceful perception of the world arises.” ~ A Course in Miracles
May you find this practical and highly effective today in restoring a peace and serenity to your life that is unshakable and invulnerable to the distractions of the world. This practice can become incredibly useful on so many levels if you so desire… it is a gift that keeps on giving. Enjoy!