Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Thought . . . and the Voice in Your Head

Everyone thinks, that's a fact, and there is nothing wrong with thought. But the paradox here is that there is nothing right about thought either; let us look at thought and the voice in your head together.

Thought is an activity within the mind, and my task is to wake you up to the fact that there is a voice in your head, which you think is who you are. In other words you presently think that you are your thoughts, that you are that internal voice in your head, and I come along and say:

"Hold on a moment, are you absolutely certain that the voice in your head constitutes
who you are?

In other words, are the thoughts in your head
the real you?"

The startling fact is that most people don't know that there is a voice in the head because they think they are the voice in the head. Did you get that point? Let me repeat it here:

What am I saying? I'm saying that the great majority of us are totally unaware of our thought processes, we pay little or no attention to the thoughts, attitudes, beliefs and opinions that run a continues loop of discursive thinking through our minds; and we never stop to ask how those thoughts got there either; perhaps we should? Let's find out about . . .

The Voice of Your Internal Dialogue.

         Why is it that most of us do not pay attention to what is going on within our own thinking principle;
the mind?

It is because we are so close to the internal noise of thought, the internal dialogue of inner conversations, circling thoughts, fears, doubts and the worries of the thinking mind . . . that we simply think that the whole sorry package constitutes who we are. As a result we don't stop to question it, and why would we, that internal voice has been with us for our entire life . . . and so it appears to be who we are.

What is the voice in your head?
  1. It is the voice of the sub-conscious mind, which is a layer of mind created within your total mind in the time you have been alive. 
  2. In other words it is the voice of your conditioning; something that has been added to you in the time you've been in existence; since birth.
  3. It is also the voice of your personality; the person you have become over time.
  4. Or you could say it is simply the voice of all your accumulated past, since birth, nothing more and nothing less.
The truth is, the voice in your head is all of the above, and they are one and the same phenomenon. Look at it this way:
  • The  sub-conscious level of the mind has been created by all your past experiences of life and living, which have been imprinted on the psyche one impression at a time, to form your conditioned personality. 
  • Meaning that the person you think you are is simply an accumulation of past experiences; experiences that have been imprinted within, or added to, your mind.
  • This layer of past experiences has gathered within you to create your sub-conscious mind, which is the personality . . or the person you think you are. 
  • This personality, the person you think you are, has a voice, a voice that chatters on within your mind and can be observed talking or chattering on incessantly. 
  • You think that this voice in your head, this stream of incessant thoughts, is who you are on mental and emotional levels. But in truth it is simply what you have become, it is not what you are . . . or what you were at the point of birth; it is what you have become since birth . . . it is your conditioned self.
Now I need your participation here to enable us to carry out a little experiment together. It is an experiment or exercise in self- observation, which simply means that you will be watching your mind to see what is happening within it.

This experiment is an exercise in self-awareness. The more often you put this exercise in self-observation into practice, the more your self-awareness will expand, and the sooner you'll have a breakthrough; meaning you'll have a deeper realization of just who and what you really are, as opposed to what you think you are! But, hey, if you're perfectly happy where you are in life right now, then don't bother with the exercise; if that is the case you won't anyway because it'll seem like too much hard work to anyone who is not ready to grow and expand in self-awareness . . . basically, such people can't be arsed, and they'll always find a convenient excuse for not making the required effort ;-)

In my last couple of posts I introduced you to my basic exercise in awareness expansion and the state of presence. This exercise begins in the same way:
  • Switch off the radio and TV etc.
  • Sit on a chair or sofa with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Breathe regularly with slow deep breaths. 
  • Hear your breathing. Be as still as you can.
  • Now close your eyes and look into the blackness or graininess of the mind; look into the darkness behind your eyelids.
  • Observe any thoughts that arise within the mind, but don't get lost in them, see them clearly. 
  • Watch those thoughts as if you are a scientist within a laboratory doing an experiment. 
  • Your mind is the laboratory, you are the observer, and the experiment is for you to observe the behaviour of thought within your mind.
  • Observe thoughts coming and going; do they jump from one topic to another?
  • Become aware of the momentum of thought; do they link together like a chain of continues thoughts?
  • After five to ten minutes return your attention to the darkness and graininess behind your eyelids.
  • Can you keep your attention on that darkness and graininess or does your attention get pulled back into thinking again?
  • Slowly open your eyes.
  • Sit for a while and reflect on your experience.

   Were you able to remain detached from the thoughts that were active within your mind, or did your attention get sucked into, and therefore lost within, the thought line? Either way, you should now be aware of the voice in your head, your next task is to watch it as often as you can so that you can come to a deeper understanding of its nature. I am here to help you with that, don't be afraid to ask questions, all questions are acceptable (keep them to this subject). My answers will always point you towards the solution.

Remember to always treat this exercise in self-observation as an experiment. One which allows you to be like a scientist who is simply the observer of all the activity in the mind. A scientist is detached from the outcome of the experiment, and runs the experiment to find out what is going on, and they observe; you must do exactly the same. Remain detached from what you are observing. You are the observer. Thought is the observed.

Your mind will be full of positive and negative thoughts, likes and dislikes, imagined rights and wrongs, fears, doubts and worries etc. No matter, simply remain the detached observer of the thinking mind . . .

Put this exercise in self-observation into practice every morning and night 
and as often as possible in between.    

Congratulations, you have just taken the first step in what is known as The Self-Realization Process; you have become an observer of the thinking principle.

Something very special happens to those of us who persist with this activity of watching the activity of thought, or the voice in the head. It is the next step in the process, but I must not tell you what it is, that would spoil the surprise . . . when you discover it for yourself . . . will you let me know what you experienced? :-)


PS. If you have any questions on this topic please leave a comment, many thanks. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Doug

    I just read your blog post.

    I was wondering if you could help me understand what you have mentioned above?

    I tried this exercise and had some interesting results.

    There had been a lot of stress in my head for a long time but when I told myself that I am not the voice in my head, a huge amount of tension immediately started to leave my brain. It's hard to explain.

    Anyway, I kept trying to watch thoughts in my mind. Sometimes I'd intentionally create thoughts that normally get me in an 'excited' state. As soon as i began to watch/observe these thoughts...I noticed that the voice in my head disappeared.

    So, every time I watch thoughts in my head, the thoughts go away and my head feels like pressure has been released from it. But my mind feels kind of 'blank' and I do start to notice things around me in more detail.

    But I still have trouble trying to figure out what to do with this? Is it our aim as Buddhists to maintain this 'state' all the time? Then what?

    I find that when i watch the voice in my head, the thoughts start to fade away and it is much easier to focus on my breath. That is a good thing.

    I hope that you see this comment and can help me figure out what this means and what to do from here?