One of the hardest things I have ‘done’ on the spiritual path is to learn what it means to quiet compulsive thinking. It’s a challenging process and you reach ever deeper levels of mindfulness. It’s a process of embracing silence. Mind chatter is definitely an addiction, and maybe one day it might be clearly recognized as such, who knows.
It’s an addiction, because if you really notice your mind/thoughts you will see how incessant thought is, because usually thoughts come to either take you away from an uncomfortable one about yourself, or to recreate pleasurable ones – again, to get away from an uncomfortable one.
The Mind Chatter Is Painful
This process of compulsive thinking is itself pain and suffering. I would go so far as to say it’s agony. But it is not recognized as such until we are somehow forced to slow down. Until then we are in ‘blissful’ ignorance. I’ve said for some time on this blog it’s a topsy turvy world – what we consider to be happiness is so often unhappiness. And mind chatter is one such example.
We might find we have a lot of time alone for whatever reason. Or we go through some painful event that makes us look at ourselves in a new – and more accepting – light. But there is usually a forcing of us to take note of ourself by circumstance. Or for a few people they may use their intellect wisely and simply realize they need to slow down. But usually we don’t ordinarily allow ourselves to go through painful moments, instead we run and hide from them as fast as we can, fearing silence and fearing being alone.
For example, upon the ending of a relationship, there can be an immediate panic to find a replacement, or on a smaller more everyday level, we fear silence in conversation with someone. We fear it, because in those moments we hear our own fears, our own pain, and instead of simply allowing to be what already is, we are already on to the next thought. It’s not conscious, it’s unconscious – a habit. And it’s a habit that must be broken if we are to find any real peace in our lives.
My Own Experience
When I first started travelling this conscious path, I always remember a spiritual friend talking to me about thought. Thought – huh? I thought. (Get the irony?) To be honest I did think she was crackers, because noone had ever spoken to me about thinking and thought before. She recommended Freedom From The Known by Jiddu Krishnamurti (click his name to read chapter 1), so I read it, as by then I was in the thick of a waking up ‘process’, and the ‘me’ and thinking were being subjugated. It was a significant book for me at that time. In JK’s words:
Do not think about yourself, but be aware of the thought, emotion, or action that makes you think of yourself.
In the space which thought creates around itself there is no love. This space divides man from man, and in it is all the becoming, the battle of life, the agony and fear. Meditation is the ending of this space, the ending of the me.
If you, like I felt then, think that talking about thinking is crackers, then read Freedom From The Known. I highly recommend it.