Overloaded with Thoughts?
Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors
Overloaded with Thoughts?Here’s an exercise to ease your mind.
Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Pay attention to your thoughts, following them wherever they may lead. Simply watch them come and go. After you’ve watched your thoughts for five to ten seconds, ask yourself the following question and then wait, in a very alert state, to see what happens immediately afterward. Here is the question: Where will my next thought come from?
What happened? Was there a short break in your thinking while you waited for the next thought? Did you notice a space—a kind of gap between the question and the new thought? Okay, now reread the instructions, and perform the exercise again. I’ll wait. . . .
Did you notice a slight hesitation in your thinking—a pause between thoughts? If you were alert immediately after you asked the question, you will have noticed that your mind was just waiting for something to happen. Eckhart Tolle, the author of The Power of Now, says that this experience is like a cat watching a mouse hole. You were awake, waiting, but there were no thoughts in the gap. You may have heard that it takes many years of arduous practice to clear the mind of thoughts, but you’ve just done it in a matter of seconds.
Please try the exercise again. Do it for two to three minutes with your eyes closed. Every 15 seconds or so, ask the original question or use a substitute such as: What color will my next thought be? or What will my next thought smell like? What will my next thought feel like? The question isn’t important, but paying attention is. Watch the gap closely when it’s there; look for it when it’s not. Attention will expose the gap—the space between thoughts. This gap is the source of thought. It may be fleeting, but it will be there. As you regularly become aware of this mental pause, it will begin to work its magic on you.
Now close your eyes and do the exercise for two to three minutes. I’ll wait. . . . Finished? Good. How do you feel right now? Do you feel some relaxation in your body? Are your thoughts quieter? Do you feel stillness or peace?
How can this happen? All you did was observe the gap between thought; and automatically, without effort, your body became more relaxed and your mind more peaceful. That is what happens when you begin to function and live in the quieter levels of the mind. The body and mind are intimately related, and when the mind stops thinking so hard, the body gets to relax and become more rested.
Now let me ask you this: When you were observing the gap between your thoughts, were you worried about paying your bills, making dinner, or remembering your spouse’s birthday? Of course not. Your mind was completely still and free of worry. It is impossible to be completely aware of Nothing and suffer from fear, anxiety, remorse, guilt, or any other discordant or destructive emotion. If you did nothing else but learn this forceful lesson, you would be able to dramatically alter your life’s course toward more prosperity, creativity, and love. But there is much more.
Let’s continue to discover what additional pearls of perception await us from this enlightening exercise. First, tell me what was in the gap. What did you say? A little louder, please . . . oh, you said Nothing. That’s right, there was nothing in the gap. There was no form, sound, color, smell—nothing! Or we could say Nothing was in the gap and be equally correct. Are you beginning to see the magnitude of this simple discovery?
If you thought that you were your thoughts and emotions—your memories, hopes, and fears—then maybe you have another “think” coming. Thoughts and emotions come and go. They are relative and momentary. You, your essence, is so much more than your mind can ever dream of, and you just proved it.
When your thinking stopped, did you cease to exist? Did you go into a coma or somehow become unconscious or unaware? Of course not. You were still there, weren’t you? Well, if you aren’t your thoughts and you were still there, then who are you? That seems like a fair question, doesn’t it? If you don’t know who you are, then everything you do is baseless, without foundation. You become like a man with amnesia who is trying to live his life but doesn’t really know who he is. To plant your feet firmly on the foundation of life, you must know who you are. In the gap between thought, there was Nothing. But you were still aware. You were watching when the thoughts first disappeared and were replaced by the gap.
If your awareness identifies with your thoughts, memories, and future plans, you are referring to the “me.” “Me” is the collected “things” of your life. “Me” is your age, your sex, your likes and loves, and your memories. But none of that exists at the moment your awareness turns inward and observes the gap between thoughts. To observe, you must be aware, right? So at that moment when your mind turned off, you were aware of the nothing we call Nothing. But you found out that Nothing is not empty. Nothing is filled with pure awareness. And now you have solved the mystery of who you are. You are pure awareness!