2022-08-10 Thoughts and Emotions (3 of 5) Thinking Emotions
3:12PM Aug 10, 2022
Yes, if I talk and no one's there, am I really talking? The question for our minds when we talk to ourselves who's there. So thank you very much for those of you who wrote comments in that chat, and about what this was like to do that exercise we just did. And not surprisingly, I think there was a fair number of people who had mentioned anxiety and fear. It's very common to have fear or anxiety apprehension, be the drive for thinking, especially if thinking has a lot to do. But planning and spend a lot of time planning planning tends to be fear based. Not always. Sometimes it's sometimes it's delight based. So if people meditators get the message that all they're supposed to do is like, go their thoughts and go back to their breathing. That can be a very nice instructions, and very helpful sometimes to keep it that simple. But it also is a way of dismissing thinking, and not really bringing a lot of mindfulness to this whole process of thinking. Ideally, in this mindfulness practice we're doing, we're learning how to bring a kind of clear clarity of attention, and care and respect to all aspects of our lives. And to keep letting go of something and not really take time to really get to know it is a kind of disrespect, it isn't, we're not the inspecting it again and again. And so there, there comes a time when we want to really turn our attention to the thinking mind itself. And be mindful that maybe we're there. Maybe even the meditation becomes not thinking meditation, the sense of actively thinking and contemplating something. But thinking meditation in the sense that the thinking is the object of the quiet attentive mindfulness we're doing. Just like we would bring quiet, attentive mindfulness to breathing. And it's not about breathing exactly, but it's about being present and for it, so being present for thinking, but maybe without participating in the thoughts. And there's a lot to discover, in that world of thinking. And without discovering it, about seeing the, how it works or thinking, what drives it, what I were pulled into it, the energy in it, the how we identify with it, the thinking will, those things will operate and thinking anyway. And some people get confused about, why do I keep thinking same thing? Or why do I always feeling the same way or some people won't understand the, the teachings about not-self In Buddhism, because they're so strongly identified, we are thinking, I think, therefore I am. And who am I from that thinking it has such a locus at the center of it all. But to be able to step back and watch it and see it, and realize that the watcher is not the thinker. And, and if we're able to step back far enough, if that the watcher can view more quietly, silently or doing it from a different place. And so, one of the things to discover is that certain emotions are the fuel for thinking they're there, they provide the pressure to keep thinking the same thing over and over again. And, and if that's the case, then it's really valuable to do a mindfulness of emotions, to respect the emotions, get to know it more deeply, practice with it. And some people know how to practice mindfulness of emotions, when emotions are kind of their own thing. But when emotions are kind of embedded in our thinking, it's more subtle, or, or we don't really take time to look at it. And one reason not to look at it is that if we think we are the thoughts, we are the thinker. And who we are is observing, say, with the world, it doesn't occur to us to turn around and look at the observer, look at the thinker, because the thinker is the one that's looking not the one that's being looked at. And so we might miss a whole bunch of aspects of our inner life because of the of not having that ability to look back on what we think is the self, you know who we are. Over time, we start being much more relaxed about having the central locus of central coagulated center this here's who I am.
We are something of course. But we don't have to have any stress and contraction compaction around that self often has to do with our thinking. Sometimes it's or has to do with, some people are more emotionally based. And some people are more somatically based. But all these places are valuable. But we don't have to be based in them, we don't have to be centered in them, as if that's who we are. The idea is to be more fluid and inclusive, holistic, include it all. So if we're not blinded by our thinking, so we can't look at thinking, we could turn around and look at it. And if we see the emotions there, the moods, then we could do mindfulness of the emotion. So say, for example, there's a lot of future thinking, that's driven by anxiety, the anxiety comes with some authority, some power, some sense of alarm, that said, we have to do something we have to something has to go on. And so we get pulled in, seduced in, in a sense, to have those thoughts, the problem solving, fixing, imagining all the possibilities, so maybe we can become safer or something. And but it can be so repetitive over and over and over again. But if you turn around and feel the anxiety, and for some people that never taken time, never felt it was an you know, if possible are of interest, to turn around and feel the anxiety in the body, to help the anxiety, feel safe, help give space for the anxiety to be there. So that it's almost as if the thinking is the signpost for the anxiety is the messenger, and we stay with a messenger, and we don't read the message. And the message is the emotions that are there. And so we might practice with the emotions. The other thing we might notice, and we started noticing the emotions of the thinking is that having the thoughts is one thing that think that thoughts we have influence us in one way. But the emotions might influence us in different way. Sometimes the primary influence and the ongoing mood and concerns we have might be the underlying emotion, not the content of the thoughts itself. Then, certainly certain emotions, they influence the kind of thoughts we have. So fear thoughts might produce thoughts of danger, if they all the possible dangers, we might run into anger thoughts, and your mood of anger, move of aversion, might predispose us to have thoughts about all the things that are wrong. And, and, and what we don't like, if the underlying mood is one of desire, we might be thinking, fantasies of desire, looking for things that we want and can have. So the underlying mood can affect the kind of thoughts we have, and motivations we have. And, and so, and then when we have those thoughts that are, you know, shaped by the emotion, They in return will feed back on those emotions as a feedback loop that goes on feedback circle. And, and so we can get caught in these circles, and spend all day sometimes if they're not very powerful, and you know, not too much suffering in them. They can just continue all day, especially if we identify with it. If we take it oh, this is who I am. If we've done it for so long, that this is normal, it's become the normal thing. So normal becomes invisible to us isn't that's how everything is is how supposed to be this is the order of the universe is to have, you know, these kinds of thoughts or have these kinds of mood and this isn't, you know, so normal. Maybe there's no normal for this mind of ours. It's a dynamic fluid process, that the more free we are, the more we can kind of surf and navigate at all and not be unduly influenced or cost by any of it, but respectful for all of it.
And, and so this ability to look at the underlying mood, emotion tone of how overthinking is eye opening. For some people. It's kind of revolutionary. It's like the missing link for some people. It can be quite just therapy for some people because it upsets what's normal. It reveals things sometimes that, you know, we haven't admitted before. But in the short term, it can be a little bit disorienting. But in the long term, this is the way to find some real inner stability, some real ability to be creative and present and, and let the best of who we are, give it a chance to surface and come in a way it can't. If we're over debt, over identified with a particular mood attitude of thinking that we don't even know is there sometimes or, or we so strongly think this is normal, that we're kind of caught in its grip. With enough care with mindfulness practice, all the grips, relax, not automatically. But I want to encourage you to have confidence that this practice leads to the deep gripping, the relaxing, the clinging, that goes on in the mind. And so and perhaps today, you can spend the day kind of looking at this through the day, what are the emotions that seemed to be behind your thoughts that you have, and see if you can, almost like you're speaking in a different language, see, if you couldn't call upon a different part of the mind. And start thinking a different way. Not pushing away, or denying the fact that you maybe are thinking with a lot of fear or anxiety or whatever it might be for you. But simply see if you can find on the side of that somewhere else, a place of confidence or generosity or kindness, or maybe even humor, playfulness, all kinds of possibilities. But see today, whether you can kind of shift and change and pay attention to your mind and find if there's different ways of thinking and, and in the process, begin to de identify with one particular way. And as you do identify, you might become a greater observer of it all. So thank you very much, and I look forward to continuing tomorrow.