Does involuntary thinking drive me away from solutions by entangling me in a vicious circle of this problem?
Remarks by José Parés Pérez. Concepción, Chile.
Even when we understand clearly that involuntary thought doesn’t contribute anything good to our internal experience, to what we really are, we often continue to be victims of this reality, prisoners in the prison that is our way of letting ourselves by carried away by directionless thought.
I have been victim of this process and I have known many people who spend a large portion of their lives in what we call “auto-pilot” – distraction and compulsive thought. These people, who don’t exercise their capacity to control their thoughts, can destroy their own lives.
The intensity of this problem varies highly. But it’s possible to notice that suffer from it to some degree if, for example, we seek distraction in an exaggerated way. We search for something or someone to occupy our inner activity, our thought, because we don’t like what appears in that interior if we don’t distract ourselves. In extreme cases, we constantly act to reject realities that have affected us in some way and condemn them as absolutely reprehensible, which can become an obsession from which we are unable to escape.
We don’t open our mind to thing that perhaps we are mistaken in our judgement and we are condemning a questionable reality. In between both extremes, we can find ourselves in many situations in which our thoughts are products of culture, beliefs, customs, knowledge that we think is ours, etc. These cause a lack of observation fresh, clear, authentic, well-oriented decisions in the present moment. Exercises for practicing attention to the present are a proven path towards counteracting any of those conditions in which thought removes us from reality. The logical way to calm our thoughts is to engage in an inner activity that is distinct from thinking and which occupies our attention in the present moment – this activity is feeling. Normally, stopping our thoughts doesn’t work, because this also takes the form of thought. Instead, the goal is to place our attention on what we can feel in our body or in the environment and remain in this state as much as possible. With any physical activity that we engage in, we can always feel that activity in our body.