When asked to tune into what is going on in the mind, most people listen for a minute or two and then let their thoughts take over.
In my work I often have people spend time becoming acquainted with what is going on in their mind. Most have difficulty because the mind can hardly sit still especially without practice.
What I have noticed in my own exploration is my thoughts are endless. Research states that people have approximately 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. You can do your own research.
Try sitting down for 15 minutes and noting down each time you have a thought. You will be surprised at how much is going on upstairs.
These thoughts represent a lifetime of programming. About 80-90% of the thoughts we have today are the same thoughts we have had over and over again. Imagine a powerful computer running the same script repeatedly. This is the nature of your mind – it keeps repeating itself.
Would this inner script shape your experience of life? Of course it would.
Let’s say you have self-doubts about what you are doing with your life. This self-doubt theme plays every day because you are only passively aware of it. You never really questioned these thoughts. Here you are after many years of struggle and you can’t figure out why you feel so stuck and not able to shift your life.
If you took time to listen inward you would hear that you lack the confidence in yourself to do just about anything in a way you find acceptable. This is another aspect of your mind – it judges you constantly.
Let’s say you have an interaction with someone you care about and it doesn’t go well. The mind will replay that interaction almost endlessly seeking to place blame or looking for excuses. It also rehearses upcoming conversations trying to get things right. This is another way you mind acts – it spends so much time in replaying the past and rehearsing the future.
The mind also spends hours and hours planning, at least mine does. It has ideas and explores many ways these ideas can be expressed. Have you ever sat with your planning mind to be aware of what it has in mind for your life?
Have you noticed the mind places images or thoughts into your awareness to bring your attention to them? I have noticed that when I am feeling positive, my mind will run a short clip of something I messed up on from the past. If I catch this short replay, I can be aware enough not to let it sabotage my good feeling state. This is another aspect of the mind at work – the ego mind likes you to be feeling down or fearful so it is in control. The ego-mind is always on the job trying to have power over you.
The conditioned mind distrusts silence. Have you ever felt uncomfortable with silence? This mind will make you feel uneasy when things get quiet. Quiet is too unpredictable so the mind fills the space with noise about the past or worry about the future. This is another aspect of the mind. It does its best to keep you busy and occupied with thoughts.
With this need for noise, the conditioned mind reveals another tendency. The mind dominated by the ego distrusts the now. This distrust comes from the fact that in the now the ego has very little power. All of its power comes from fear and worry about the past and future.
When you are in the moment free of thinking, there is no fear or worry - just endless possibilities. Can you imagine a control seeking aspect of your mind being comfortable with endless possibilities? This is one of the most limiting aspects of the way our mind works. The ego-mind will do everything possible to keep you from being present.
Yet present is where all the possibilities are. Curious isn’t it?
The nature of your mind, the mind of a lifetime of conditioning, programming and many unquestioned thoughts and beliefs act as both a protector and powerful force of self-limitation. Wow how can that be, you might ask?
I am sure there are a number of theories about why this is the nature of our mind. The “Why?” is interesting but not as important as, “What can I do about this?” “How can I get out of my own way?”
Over the next few weeks I am going to share with you some ways to free yourself of your own limits, your own programming, your own beliefs caught in the repeat-machine called the mind.
Here is a thought to explore – You are not your ongoing repetition of thoughts. There is a greater knowing available to you. What is this knowing?