It can be difficult to remember that thoughts are the product of our own thinking (chances are that you may have ignored this statement soon after reading it, because either you feel it makes no sense, or because you feel it is too obvious; yet this one insight has the power to bring about very deep transformation in our lives). We lose sight of this capability, unlike other capabilities we know we have. It’s easy, for example, to remember that our voices are the product of our ability to speak. That’s why it’s almost impossible to scare yourself with your own voice. You can scream all you want, but you still won’t be able to frighten yourself! You simply are too aware that the sound you are hearing is being created by you. It is interesting to note that young infants will scare themselves with their own crying until the moment that they realize it is their crying that is producing the noise. Thinking, however, is very different. Because thinking goes on automatically, it’s much closer to us. Because we’re always doing it, it’s easy to forget that it’s happening, and it becomes invisible. That’s why thoughts become our reality.
The result is that when a thought pops into our head, instead of saying to ourselves, “That’s just another thought,” we react to it as if it were outside ourselves. We take the thought seriously and become concerned and reactive. As our level of understanding rises, we begin to realize earlier and earlier that we are thinking—and we can recognize more of the negative and insecure thoughts that enter the mind. By becoming aware of and letting go of our own negativity, our head clears and elicits our healthy thought process. As our level of understanding goes up, we can relate to our thinking in a new way by noticing and observing our thoughts without being overly attached to their content. Our thinking becomes more visible to us. When we lose sight of the fact that thoughts just come and go, we become obsessed with them. This causes stress and confusion to build up. Such a perpetual state of extreme mental activity is what is generally termed as a busy or hurried mind.
One of the most apt and beautiful metaphors on the subject of a busy mind is to think of an elevator that has reached its capacity of 16 persons or 1500 KG. As long as the rule is honored and the number of people doesn’t exceed the capacity, the elevator operates at a high level of efficiency. Although it is crowded in the elevator, it is not packed, and the passengers remain relatively comfortable. The riders continue to cooperate with one another, moving out of one another’s way when necessary.
However, if you were to cram an additional 20 people into the elevator, all hell would break loose. The passengers would become irritated and edgy, and the elevator would no longer be safe. Riders would get in one another’s way, and the sheer volume of passengers would endanger the very process of traveling up and down the elevator. There would be claustrophobia, anger, confusion and chaos.
Our mind is similar to that elevator. There is an optimal level of mental activity whereby we remain relatively relaxed and operate at high efficiency. Life doesn’t get to us too much, even when things go wrong or when the stakes are too high. We are able to keep our perspective very well and are able to effectively deal with problems or challenges.
When our “thought capacity” is on overload, however, the results often are disastrous. Little things start to bother us. There is too much to keep track of, and we become frustrated and confused.
For most of us, keeping our mind busy or hurried has become a habit. We feel that that is normal because almost everyone is doing it. Moreover, in our society, being busy or having too many things to do, is often highly valued.
Just because something is considered normal or highly valued, doesn’t make it not insane.
Break free of this insanity through releasing, and learn to value having a quiet mind. The world can be busy or fast; life can be busy or fast, but that doesn’t mean your mind has to be the same.
Learn to slow down. Let go. Relax. Slow down…