Can we control our thoughts?

Dear unknown friend, 

Is there something you learned at school that had a great impact on your life? 

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We had a few hours of introduction to philosophy when I was 17. I heard about Freud  and the unconscious for the first time. 

I was shocked to learn that we "suppress" some of our thoughts, by pushing them into the unconscious where they remain active and powerful... 

I did not want to be unconscious of anything that was going on within myself! No way! 
I didn't want to have harmful stuff sabotaging my love life without me even knowing!   (I had though...) 

I decided to listen intently to everything that could pass through my mind, all the time. I listened to the good, to the sad and the dirty. I listened to everything. 

 It is important to know ourselves, and to get to know anyone, we need to listen to them. So I listened to myself.

I embarked on this great journey called "introspection"... 

 I noticed that there was a bubble of consciousness called "me" located somewhere behind my eyes, thinking thoughts, feeling feelings, at times enjoying life, desiring girls, fearing death, loving and craving, craving, mostly craving...and sometimes loving though...

However, I didn't know what on earth this bubble was made of.... If we are not our body, this invisible me-bubble full of things, what was it?

This "me" was like a floater moving with the waves of an inner disturbed ocean... 

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I  listened to everything, I listened to the voices that said "you should...you must... you have to... you are stupid... you are bad... you are ridiculous... you are a coward... you are not good enough..." 

There were also sweet secret dreams and intuitions... I listened to loads of dark stuff though.  

 I wonder whether it was a good thing or not, what do you think? 

 ...I think it was a good thing. I was the observer. I was not doing anything, not fixing, not changing. I was just the witness. That's what some spiritual masters recommend: to be the witness... I didn't know that at the time. I was just worried that if I changed anything, it would be one of these dreaded "suppressions"... 
  

 Sometimes I was not the witness. Sometimes I was just carried away by trains of thoughts and feelings spiraling out of control...

 I didn't want to do suppressions, but I did,  unconsciously. 

 That's what I didn't understand in the lesson about Freud, in the philosophy class. A suppression is something that we do unconsciously. 

 Freud and the philosophy teacher didn't mention that we have also the power to cultivate our inner garden, or if they did, I missed that bit. 

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 There is something very subtle, almost paradoxical, to juggle with here. Being the witness is not doing anything. Forcing ourselves to stop spiraling in the dark is hardly possible. Trying to force anything feels like self inflicted violence. 

However, from a certain place which feels like not doing, it is possible to stop the merry go round going wrong, and let something else happen instead... 
 
  Today I still rebel when I hear people talking about controlling our thoughts. When I feel the passion with which they talk about it,  I imagine a horseman controlling his mount with such an iron fist that the horse can't rest when it's tired, can't go to water when it's thirsty, can't let the master know about what it needs to stay alive. 

 Of course, from another point of view, just being the witness may look like a horseman not controlling his mount and not going anywhere...

 What can be said with words is never accurate enough. 

 Between the rider and the horse, between the will and the mind, a loving relationship is possible.

Techniques, breathing exercises, visualizations, positive affirmations... are not enough. 

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It has to be a relationship. It has to be love. 

 

These are donkeys. Donkeys are great too....