Thank You For Not Thinking
Penny Cohen, LCSW
Thank You For Not Thinking is a sign I have on a wall in a foyer that people can see when they walk into my home. It often sparks conversation. “How can you stop thinking?” they ask. You can’t actually stop thoughts, but you can stop thinking. Furthermore, there are pure thoughts and your thoughts and thinking about thoughts. And when you stop thinking about thoughts, your pure thoughts are clearer.
Thinking generally stops us from being in the present and taking action. Thinking involves interpretation of thoughts that come to us. Pure thoughts are generally thoughts that come to us and through us from higher intuition without being filtered through the body. Our thoughts can come from the past – the far past and past lives, from our ancestral lineage, or from our current life and are filtered through the body and therefore wrought with emotional charges. Pure thoughts can be so fleeting that we often don’t catch them. Yet we get some feelings of discomfort without knowing why. Or, we dismiss them by not wanting to believe them, and then we go into thinking about them. For instance, one evening I woke up with a start. I saw an image of my mother, who was in the hospital gagging. I knew she was in trouble. I wanted to stay in bed and ignore it. However, I did get up to call the hospital and was told she wasn’t doing well and I should come quickly. That was paying attention to my intuition. But then sometimes a fleeting thought will come in like when I fell down the steps. I had an inkling that would happen and instead of being more careful, I missed the bottom step and fell. I didn’t adhere to the intuitive message.
Our thinking about thoughts usually involves regrets of the past, or fears of the future, or are made up stories, illusions of what’s happening now. Regarding thinking about the past, they’re often ponderings about what should have been done, wasn’t done, or what went wrong. Regarding the future it’s usually worries about what will happen, what to do or not do. Regarding thinking in the now this often involves stories we make up about what’s going on, without experiencing what is. These all keep us in fantasy rather than reality.
Thinking, in general causes stress. In a workshop I was presenting I did a guided visualization for people to relax and then just to pay attention to their breath. After about ten minutes I walked around with a peeled orange that I held under their noses. After waiting quietly a few minutes, I rubbed a feather on their arms. Waiting another few minutes I rang a bell. They all chuckled when they came out of the relaxation. Their responses were very interesting.
One said, “I was fine and so relaxed when we first did the visualization on relaxing the muscles in our bodies. Then when you put the orange under my nose I kept thinking about what it was. It made me thirsty and I started fantasizing that a glass of orange juice was waiting in front of me. Then I began wondering if I was doing something wrong. Wasn’t I supposed to be meditating?” Another said, “I wasn’t sure what the feather was and I got into a heavy duty preoccupation mode thinking there was a bug crawling up my arm, debating whether to kill it and I got anxious.” Another said, “I can now see how easily we can get out of being in the present and very relaxed and then go into thinking and most of the time it’s stinking thinking. I also noticed when we tell ourselves stories, even fantasies of the future, it can cause stress because whatever we’re thinking about isn’t here and now. We’re not in truth.”
When I keep saying we have to stop thinking people will often tell me, “You have to think about the future, or figure out something from the past. So you have to think. “No you don’t. You have to do.” I retort. When a pure thought comes in and it feels right and you take action on it, you remain in the flow. If you start thinking about the thought, it takes you out of the flow, delays action and then fears may crop up, and then you go into stinking thinking. You can plan the future by sitting down and writing what needs to be done. Or, you can ponder the past with the idea of how to move forward rather than regretting it and getting stuck on it. To explain it better I think of the movie Forest Gump. Forest Gump was a mentally challenged man, who had no self-reflection abilities. He just took action on what came to him. We don’t have to be mentally challenged to challenge ourselves to be free of emotional charges and take action on what comes. We can also plan the future by imagining it, feeling open to having it – without an emotional charge, which puts out a pure thought into the universe. If our thought is pure, it’s heard in that fashion and then we get more pure thoughts on how to accomplish what we want and are innately motivated to do it. If we take action on the pure thought, we’re being guided.
I invite you to practice not thinking. See what happens. And if you go into stinking thinking put a stop sign up in your mind and say, “Thinking,” and let it go. If the thought is good, then don’t think about it, take action on it.
Keeping in touch and in love,