Am I what I think or am I the thinker?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

Throughout our lives we become used to thinking about anything at any time, whether it is because we decide to think about something specific or because we think involuntarily about a thousand things.  In the end we consider that our thoughts are the truth and, what is more, we feel completely identified with them.  The thinker becomes confused with what they think.  I mean that we live in a way that is so “hijacked” by our thoughts that we lose our perspective about them and we do not even question if they correspond to reality or if they are the accumulation of assumptions or a projection of our fears, memories, old beliefs etc.  Based on this state of bewilderment, of auto-pilot in which we tend to live, any thought seems true and valid.  In that accustomed state we are not aware that what we think or imagine also bring us emotions and physical tensions that last for a short while in our body and that also shape our behaviour.  If this is not clear to you, remember something very unpleasant that has happened to you and dwell on it, observe what it makes you feel and what you do on the basis of what you feel.  If it leaves you with an unpleasant taste it may affect your behaviour and you may decide to do something like eat something tasty to compensate for it or you may become angry and offload the tension on anyone who comes by, or you may become sad and curl up in a corner for a while.  Regardless of the response, the thing is that you were shaped by the trail of those thoughts.  And this happens without us being aware of it.  But things can be different and not fall into the invisible webs that are woven as a result of our lack of awareness.  When we set ourselves the task of paying attention deliberately to the thoughts that arise in us, then, at that moment, we have the power to detach ourselves from them, to distance ourselves from them and not identify with them.

After practising observing the results of these thoughts, I feel that I can cease to be confused by them and that I can choose to let them pass without fuelling them. 

In this way it is difficult for their imprint to grow and hook into us through the emotions, tensions and ways of behaviour that are governed by them.  If I am not self-aware, involuntary thoughts rule me and transform me into their servant.   But if you pay attention to those that arise and you observe them and decide to let them pass with kindness then you are the one who thinks or stops thinking when it is necessary.  Thinking is a great tool, but it enslaves us when we believe that we are what we think and that what we think is the absolute truth.  Now I will set out what I described previously and that may help me to explain myself better.

Imagine a room in the half-light with a large screen TV lit, without a remote control, that is always set to the same channels, and you sitting on a comfortable sofa that has trapped you. 

You look again and again at those scenes that generate emotions and tensions, you suffer, love and hate the scenes.   Your life is almost transformed into what these scenes make you feel. This is how we live when we live when we identify ourselves with the films of our thoughts.  You can only find the remote control on your own and turn on the light in the room if you pay attention to yourself and cease to hand over the power of suggestion to the films that you project on to the screen of your thoughts. 

The change depends solely on your decision to pay attention, to open the windows and turn off the TV, or at least to know that it is just a TV, and that what is projected is not you.

Take back the remote control!