Most of us are afflicted with a chronic, painful disease. It’s called thinking. We continuously fabricate thoughts, which produce painful feelings.
Thoughts might or might not be triggered by events. Either way, they distort reality. For example, let’s say we get a scratch on our car. Nothing bad happens to us: we don’t suffer any injury, and our car drives just as well as it always has. But we might think, “I don’t want that scratch there. My car is ruined!” If so then we will create pain. The scratch didn’t hurt us – we hurt us.
We don’t need to think in order to perceive reality. We perceive a sight, a sound, a flavor, a smell, or a sensation just fine without thinking. But often we think about them. This can not only bring pain but also block our experience. If we analyze a flower then we can’t enjoy its beauty.
We think so much that we equate thinking with being. When we stop thinking for a moment, there can be the background feeling that, “Oh no, I’m not thinking, so therefore I’m not being.” Then the thinking process starts again.
Thinking is so painful that we sometimes do things just to force thought to stop. We drink, engage in dangerous activities, eat, play loud music, or watch television. It provides temporary relief from thought, but doesn’t solve the problem because we start thinking again once the activity is over. It seems that we are addicted to thinking.
It is possible to train ourselves to not think, or, more accurately, untrain the mind’s tendency to think. This involves setting aside time to just be. Sit, lie down, walk – whatever it takes to keep from getting distracted. Don’t try to not think, because that is itself a thought process. Just relax. At first, thoughts will come uninvited, because our thinking has gained so much momentum that it will continue for a while after we stop feeding it. Eventually, with practice, it will diminish.