You Are Not Your Thoughts
Just for a moment, consider what it would be like if you realized not a single thought you had was true. In that moment you would be completely free of the influence of any concepts that were created in your head. You would be free of the apparent truth of your judgements, your doubts, your worries, your self-limiting thoughts and your "shoulds."
How to Coach Yourself Using these Wisdom Quotes:
Give yourself time to go through each point slowly
Consider your answers to any questions
Explore the links but come back to this page until you finish all the points
Pay particular attention to anything that touches your heart
1. The Temporary Energy of Thought
"There is nothing solid or permanent in your thinking. Every thought you have comes and then it goes. The instant you have a new thought, the last thought you had no longer exists. This is the illusory nature of your thinking.
You can realize the illusory nature of thought. You can realize that every thought that is created is not true in and of itself. Every thought is neutral. It is a temporary condensation of energy that doesn't mean anything unless you believe it to be true and ascribe meaning to it.
You may have thought, "I am stupid," but that thought is not truth. It is only a made-up interpretation. It is "just" a thought. It is not reality; it is only a construct.
It is just energy.
It is like a cloud that appears and then disappears in the sky. It is like smoke that dissolves into thin air. It is like a mirage that appears real until you look at it from up close and you see that there is no real substance to it. It is like a rope that you, for a moment, believed was a snake. The "snake" is just an illusion.
Just for a moment, consider what it would be like if you realized not a single thought you had was true.
In that moment you would be completely free of the influence of any concepts that were created in your head. You would be free of the apparent truth of your judgements, your doubts, your worries, your self-limiting thoughts and your "shoulds."
~Dr. Dicken Bettinger and Natasha Swerdloff, Coming Home
"You can realize the illusory nature of thought. You can realize that every thought that is created is not true in and of itself." Yes, you can. We all can. Providing we're open.
"Every thought is neutral. It is a temporary condensation of energy that doesn't mean anything unless you believe it to be true and ascribe meaning to it." Dwell on these words for a moment or two.
2. Unravelling the Mind
"There are sincere men and women who want to be free of suffering. I was one of those without realizing it.
I tested what happened when I didn’t respond to the thoughts of “I want,” “I need,” “I shouldn’t,” “I should.” I witnessed the world beyond those apparent requirements, and I found none of them to be true. None of those thoughts could stand up to inquiry.
You could discover this even if you tested it for just twenty-four hours, with one meal. Someone might give you a small bowl of rice, and that’s it for twenty-four hours, and the I-know mind would say, “This isn’t enough nourishment; I’m still hungry; I’m too weak; I’ll get sick; I’ll die.”
But when you allow each thought to be met with “Is it true?” life will show itself to you. Eventually, you find yourself ending every thought with a question mark, not with a period. You’re able to rest in the never-ending enlightenment of the don’t-know mind."
~Byron Katie, A Mind at Home With Itself
"A mind unquestioned is the world of suffering. It’s that simple.
If a thought is stressful, and we question it, it’s gone, until the mind ﬁnally understands itself. And that’s when the laughter begins.
The mind begins to pull its own thread and unravel everything it believes. And what’s left is always kinder. I love that. And ﬁnally the only thing that’s left, if anything, is gratitude."
I remember the first time I made the shift from believing my thoughts to inquiring if they were true. Suddenly I saw through decades of unnecessary suffering and with that came a delightful absence of stress. Since then, there has been a steady unraveling going on as my false beliefs, concepts and identity become exposed.
Consider if you are truly open to seeing everything you believe to be true about yourself, others and the world change in the light of awareness. Do you sense fear and hesitation at the thought of it? Or will you find that what is left is much kinder than you expected?
3. Voices in the Head
"When someone goes to the doctor and says, "I hear a voice in my head," he or she will most likely be sent to a psychiatrist. The fact is that, in a very similar way, virtually everyone hears a voice, or several voices, in their head all the time - the involuntary thought processes that you don't realize you have the power to stop, continuous monologues or dialogues.
You have probably come across "mad" people in the street, incessantly talking or muttering to themselves. Well, that's not much different from what you and all other "normal" people do, except that you don't do it out loud.
The voice comments, speculates, judges, compares, complains, likes, dislikes, and so on.
The voice isn't necessarily relevant to the situation you find yourself in at the time; it may be reviving the recent or distant past or rehearsing or imagining possible future situations. Here it often imagines things going wrong and negative outcomes; this is called worry. Sometimes this soundtrack is accompanied by visual images or mental movies.
Even if the voice is relevant to the situation at hand, it will interpret it in terms of the past. This is because the voice belongs to your conditioned mind, which is the result of all your past history as well as of the collective cultural mindset you inherited. So you see and judge the present through the eyes of the past and get a totally distorted view of it.
It is not uncommon for the voice to be a person's own worst enemy. Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continuously attacks and punishes them and drains them of vital energy. It is the cause of untold misery and unhappiness, as well as of disease.
The good news is that you can free yourself from your mind. This is the only true liberation. You can take the first step right now.
Start listening to the voice in your head as often as you can. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns, those old gramophone records that have been playing in your head perhaps for many years. This is what I mean by "watching the thinker," which is another way of saying: listen to the voice in your head, be there as the witnessing presence.
When you listen to that voice, listen to it impartially. That is to say, do not judge. Do not judge or condemn what you hear, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door. You'll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it.
This 'I am' is realization, this sense of your own presence is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind.
~Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
Eckhart says, "You can free yourself from your mind. You can take the first step right now." The first step is to "listen to the voice in your head. Be there as the witnessing presence."
The point here is not to listen to what the voice is saying as much as noticing that there is a mental dialogue going on throughout the day. Either you're completely caught up in it or you become aware of it. When you're aware of it, you're no longer trapped in it, at the mercy of every thought.
We all have the capacity to make this shift in awareness, from unconsciousness to consciousness, from asleep to awake, from lost in the ramblings of the mind to being present in the truth of life.
4. Living in a Conceptualized World
“As I watched and observed, day after day, week after week, month after month, even year after year, one day I had an epiphany: “Oh my gosh! Adults believe what they think! That’s why they suffer! That’s why they get into conflict. That’s why they behave strangely, in ways that I don’t understand, because they actually believe the thoughts in their head.”
What I realized was that adults spent a lot of time thinking, and more important than that—and more odd, it seemed to me—they actually believed what they were thinking. They believed the thoughts in their head.
All of a sudden, I had an understanding of what was happening when adults communicated with one another; that what people were in fact communicating were their thoughts, and that each person believed that what they thought was actually true.
The problem was that all of the different adults had different ideas about what they thought the truth was, and so when they communicated there was this unspoken negotiation, this attempt to win each other over and to defend one’s thinking and beliefs.”
“When we believe what we think, when we take our thinking to be reality, we will suffer. It’s not obvious until you look at it, but when we believe our thoughts, in that instant, we begin to live in the world of dreams, where the mind conceptualizes an entire world that doesn’t actually exist anywhere but in the mind itself.
At that moment, we begin to experience a sense of isolation, where we no longer feel connected to each other in a very rich and human way, but we find ourselves receding more and more into the world of our minds, into the world of our own creation.”
~Adyashanti, Falling into Grace: Insights on the End of Suffering
As a child, Adyashanti was discerning enough to observe that "adults spend a lot of time thinking," and that they actually believe the thoughts in their head. Now it's our turn to see this.
Consider how much time you spend thinking your way through life. Remember, there is no judgment or condemnation here. We all do this. We have been trained extremely well to have a cerebral (mental) relationship with life. But if we are continually lost in thought, how available are we to experience the reality of life as it unfolds in the present moment?
5. Lose Interest in Your Thoughts
"The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much. It wants to draw your attention in completely.
Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don't take your thoughts too seriously."
~Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks
"Pay no attention to your thoughts. Don't fight them. Just do nothing about them, let them be, whatever they are.
Your very fighting them gives them life. Just disregard. Look through.
You need not stop thinking. Just cease being interested. It is disinterestedness that liberates.
Don't hold on, that is all. The world is made of rings. The hooks are all yours. Make straight your hooks and nothing can hold you."
How can we lose interest in our thoughts when we have spent our whole lives paying attention to them? This can be a completely different realm of consciousness that we're not familiar with. An excellent place to start is with this blog post.
6. Making the Shift
"Most people are still completely identified with the incessant stream of mind, of compulsive thinking, most of it repetitive and pointless.
There is no "I" apart from their thought processes and the emotions that go with them. This is the meaning of being spiritually unconscious.
When told that there is a voice in their head that never stops speaking, they say, "What voice?" or angrily deny it, which of course is the voice, is the thinker, is the unobserved mind.
It could almost be looked upon as an entity that has taken possession of them.
Some people never forget the first time they disidentified from their thoughts and thus briefly experienced the shift in identity from being the content of their mind to being the awareness in the background.
For others it happens in such a subtle way they hardly notice it, or they just notice an influx of joy or inner peace without knowing the reason."
~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
Notice the repetitive and pointless, compulsive thinking that we all tend to do. Is it any wonder that the world is the way it is when we are all at the mercy of our unobserved minds?
"Some people never forget the first time they disidentified from their thoughts and thus briefly experienced the shift in identity from being the content of their mind to being the awareness in the background." This is the shift that will change your world and the world we live in.