Shifting attention from thought

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Shifting attention from thought

Postby dijmart » Fri Nov 25, 2016 7:44 am

So, when thought has you completely in its grip you may not be able to shift attention from it in that moment. However, if you know your mind won't stop chattering and it's driving you bonkers (therefore, you are aware of the thoughts vs being the thought), that's when you can shift your attention. Do what Eckhart has laid out, shift your attention/focus away from thought and into the body. Focus on your hands, feel your legs, put attenttion onto the breath, ect. This will slow thought or stop it completely if done correctly. I haven't needed to used this technique in awhile, but it's a good one.

So, for those using this technique how's it working for you?
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby Sighclone » Wed Nov 30, 2016 8:05 pm

Fine technique - works well.

Also, once you are aware of "thinking," ET suggests you "sit at the mousehole." By this, he means, become the Witness - wait for the next thought to surface. Then return to the mousehole...don't follow the thought train down its bunny trail. This is a form of cognitive meditation. Gradually, the "space between thoughts" becomes larger/longer.

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A person is not a thing or a process, but an opening through which the universe manifests. - Martin Heidegger
There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby dijmart » Wed Nov 30, 2016 9:16 pm

Nice Andy... wish there was a "like" button for posts, like on facebook.. :lol:
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby ashley72 » Thu Dec 01, 2016 1:10 am

If you are trying to stop or even alleviate bothersome thoughts, there in lies the problem!

Any resistant (suppression or repression) to your thoughts in any manner is treating it with subtle fear or danger. This will cause positive feedback loop to form, in other words, more troublesome thoughts...what you resist will persist.

Positive feedback loop: is where the output signal feeds back into the input signal. In this case, worrisome thoughts is a symptom of danger (output signal) is treated as danger (feeds back into input signal)


If you are not bothered by your thoughts & merely playing the game "sit at the mouse hole" it won't create a positive feedback loop. You can probably have fun with monitoring any change in the level of thinking like Andy says. But this only works when you don't feel threatened by your thoughts.

The only way to stop bothersome thoughts is to stop bothering with them. Accepting them as part of you & focus on with living a productive positive life, motivated by new goals.

Just let your thinking mind get on with thinking as evolution intended.

Of course, It's still good practice to stop using bad thinking styles, using CBA...to curtail any black/white or all/or nothing harmful thinking styles. But alleviating bothersome thoughts, don't bother.

Take it from me, shifting attention to your body, doesn't work! In fact, for a person inflicted with worry... it will most definitely make symptoms of anxiety more pronounced, as nervous illness is a nervous response illness & can cause all kinds of involuntarily (bodily) responses to exacerbate. Shifting your attention from worrisome thoughts to heart palpitations or sweaty palms won't reduce those nervous bodily responses because your feeding the danger the more you try to fight (suppress or repress) against something as oppose to accepting & moving on.
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby Enlightened2B » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:40 am

Ashley,

I don't see shifting away from negative thoughts as necessarily 'resisting' them. I think there is a difference, albeit perhaps subtle.

I am finding that there is a great distinction between 'suppressing' something as opposed to realizing that you don't have to buy into that 'thought created reality' anymore which can be seen as 'putting your head in the sand'. I look at each one of my thoughts as a reality in and of itself. If I go down that stream of thinking, I go down that reality path. Sometimes, I can't find my way out. Other times, I feel so empowered to see that I can create anything in my life simply by choosing to look at my current 'what is' from a different point of view....perhaps one from a place of appreciation. And by that subtle shift of attention, I already make peace with that previous reality.

"Reality" is just a malleable piece of plastic.....like our brains. So if shifting away feels good within your nervous system, then it can't be harmful. There IS no right or wrong way. When people tell me to 'face reality', I now chuckle and say......'which reality'?
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby ashley72 » Fri Dec 02, 2016 9:47 am

I'm breaking this down into a simple algorithm.

The algorithm is governed by an output cycle & an input cycle. The output cycle always feeds back into the input cycle whenever we use resistance, avoidance, suppression, repression etc.

If we choose acceptance, exposure, embracing, etc the output cycle doesn't feed back into the input cycle anymore.

You might ask what is the output cycle?

The output cycle is bothersome or intrusive thoughts, a symptom of treating something as dangerous. We worry about something when we are anxious about a negative outcome. This is an output cycle & if we also treat this output cycle with resistance it will feed back into itself.... the fear of fear itself is the common saying!

If you read my first response I said there is nothing wrong with challenging harmful thinking styles as proposed by cognitive behavior therapy. Such as black/white or all/nothing thinking. I also challenge thoughts & beliefs all the time. However, I'm talking about thoughts which are a product of nervous illness.. these kinds of thoughts should not be challenged by avoidance in anyway. As they cause the output to feed back into the input.

I also agree that our thoughts/beliefs aren't fixed & change over time. Also nothing wrong with challenging our thoughts & considering new evidence in making our decisions.

I really think your missing the whole point of my first response. Bothersome thoughts.... are simply OUTPUT of danger! Treat that OUTPUT as danger & you loop back onto it. In other words, The OUTPUT becomes its own INPUT
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby ashley72 » Fri Dec 02, 2016 10:10 am

I'm obviously a poor communicator. Lol

Just read this article & what I'm saying might finally click.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/extreme-fear/201205/breaking-anxietys-bizarre-death-loop
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby Enlightened2B » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:02 pm

Thanks for the scientific explanation Ash. I don't think you're a poor communicator. You just speak in the scientific language which best helps you to express yourself on a particular subject matter.

The old adage of 'what you resist, persists' is pretty self evident. And you are talking to someone who has had a nervous system illness. So, trust me, I very much understand how the process works.

With acceptance, and embracing of our thoughts (and this is what self love is all about), if you are indulging in a fear based thought and not seeing that the thought itself is not you, you're going to have a tough time finding your way out.

In other words, radically accepting that the thought is there in the moment, in 85-90 percent of the time for myself personally, allows me to immediately reach a place of calm and peace where I see that I no longer have to identify with that thought by observing the thought and not BECOMING the thought, no longer have to analyze the thought, and no longer have to go down that path of suffering, and then can shift my attention towards something else by realizing that the previous thought was just an old survival thought that I believed to be true, and the reason it was causing me suffering was because I believed it so much that I was RESISTING it. When you are coming to a thought from a place of NON RESISTANCE, you are actually ALLOWING the thought, but not indulging in the thought. I'm starting to master this in my own life, but there is an art to doing this.

A good portion of our thoughts are based in survival and really uncovering my own underlying core beliefs and patterns of thinking has allowed me to see that so much of what I believed to be true (what I call the ego) is actually just a scared inner child (what I also call a sensitive nervous system based in survival) that has just been calling out to be heard and loved. So many of our old patterns are based in looking for love and acceptance outside of ourselves out of a deep rooted insecurity in life. A fear that life is a scary place.

So, I'm actually agreeing with you. But, I have found the pertinence of forming new neural pathways to be in the latter part.....of shifting your attention to something that now FEELS better. I use a lot of visualization in combination with mindfulness and self love practices which has helped me in the process of healing my own ANS. It's been an incredible journey for me over the past year. But, it has to start from a fundamental understanding of who you truly are.
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby ashley72 » Fri Dec 02, 2016 10:57 pm

If you treat bothersome thoughts with a suppression technique (shifting attention to body awareness). Is this not indulging in the thought as a problem to overcome or fight against? ...That wouldn't be approaching it from a position of non-resistance first as you suggest. Your actually treating the bothersome thoughts as a stimulus. In other words, the act of deciding to apply some kind of action on the stimulus (bothersome thoughts)... in turn makes it the very stimulus your trying to avoid.

Don't forget that if someone is in a state where they're bothered by their thoughts... they're actually already in a state of anxiety. If they now act on the symptoms of that anxiety, they will just merely stimulate more of it.

So I think the ideas we both share is that by accepting the bothersome thoughts as completely ok... we don't turn those bothersome thoughts into a fear stimulus and so negate the arising of a positive feedback loop!
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby ashley72 » Fri Dec 02, 2016 11:24 pm

After re-reading your responses and trying to better understand your position versus mine.

I'm treating bothersome thoughts as - a potential fear stimulus. Whereas, your treating bothersome thoughts as something you don't need to identify with, by merely observing it as oppose to believing it.

Where we seem to have a point of contention, is on the act of shifting to body awareness. I believe this act is deliberate move to suppress & therefore causes the bothersome thoughts to go from a potential fear stimulus to an actual fear stimulus. You on the other hand, view the shifting as taking place after we stop believing in the bothersome thoughts.... I personally can't see how that's likely to occur given the deliberate intention to suppress is there. If you don't believe why bother to shift away in the first place?

I strongly believe any attempt to deliberately or purposely shift automatically treats it as a stimulus, in your words, the thought itself would still be you.
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby Enlightened2B » Sat Dec 03, 2016 1:17 am

Thoughts are never a problem in themselves. It's the emotion generated by the thoughts (surrounding beliefs) which causes suffering. So, what you're doing by putting your attention onto the body, is NOT resisting the emotion, BUT......taking your attention out of the story that is keeping that emotion alive (the thought) and choosing to say.....I don't need to believe that story anymore, no matter HOW much reality might be slapping me in the face telling me 'what is'.

You see, you can't really resist a THOUGHT. What people mean is that they are resisting their EMOTIONS. It's the physical FEELING in the body that is manifested from the thought where our attention needs to go to. A thought is just a 'virtual reality' sensory experience that comes up, but has ZERO meaning other than the emotional charge behind it (the belief). That's why it's so important to BE with the FEELINGS themselves in the body without resisting them. When people say to 'be with my thoughts" as in an act of non resistance, they are actually using the word thought to represent the entire spectrum of thought PLUS emotion. It's the emotion part that should not ever be suppressed.

Our bodies don't know the difference between 'reality' and 'imagination'. This is why putting your attention lovingly on to the manifestation (emotion) in the body and being with the body completely IS non resistance and also why you can choose a DIFFERENT story to tell by continually believing something different. Our bodies respond to positive FEELING because positive FEELING is in line with our nature and allows the flow of life energy. Positive FEELING is unconditional in nature and that's why practices like appreciation/gratitude can go such a long way even if it completely seems like it's defying reality. This is why people are able to heal from the craziest of diseases by simply learning to stop fighting their experience and choose something that feels better. It takes the stress off of the ANS which is often the cause of much chronic disease.

Negative emotion that is believed constantly is not a problem in and of itself. It is just a guidance tool to tell us that we are thinking a thought or belief that is contradictory to our true nature. It often stems from beliefs we have based on previous life experiences (trauma, etc) where our survival brains have interpreted an experience to mean something and that belief has stuck with us all throughout our lives. Basically, we are traveling upstream and resisting our thoughts/feelings/emotions, etc by fighting against something in our experience. We only fight against something when we believe that thought to represent a truth.

But, thought observing IS really emotion observing. You can't really watch a thought again. The minute you see the thought, you are either IN the thought OR in the body. If you try to move your attention away from the emotion when it arises, then you are still.....IN THE THOUGHT because you are still trying to resist. But, when you lovingly stay with the manifestation as the observer, you are no longer IN THE THOUGHT and you can finally see the thought.....as just a thought

Focusing on your breath is helpful too. But, I, as someone who has had chronic fatigue syndrome, have learned to be WITH my symptoms when they are still present and have developed a very different relationship with my body. I find it to be an act of love to be with my symptoms in the body the same way I do with emotions in the body.

Hope that makes somewhat sense from my own experience of this.
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby ashley72 » Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:27 am

Did you read the article I linked to?

Thoughts can act as both a response and a stimulus. That's how panic arises. The cycle feeds into itself.

I don't agree that you can't resist thoughts, of course you can. Perceiving a thought as bothersome is resistance or opposition.

To say thought has zero meaning is absurd. Firstly, irrationality is the square root of all evil.

The very act of thinking is how meaning is derived. Meaning is the process of linking or mapping one thing to another via metaphoric reasoning. As Douglas Hofstadter says "all meaning comes from analogies". To say someone is "narrow minded" gives a person the meaning their not thinking very broadly. A mind is an abstract thing that we can give meaning to by adding a physical dimension "narrow" or "broad".
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby Enlightened2B » Sat Dec 03, 2016 6:23 pm

Yes, but you would only find a thought bothersome when there is an emotional reaction from that thought! Therefore, it's never the actual "thought" itself which scares us, it's what the thought REPRESENTS on a vibrational/emotional level likely due to a belief we have created about a particular 'thing' where everytime we think that thing, it causes some sort of emotional response within our body. And the premise behind an emotional response stemming from a thought is simply......a belief. And it is BELIEFS which we try to resist.

Beliefs are just thoughts we keep thinking over and over and over again. It's a habit of thinking that has a specific emotional charge associated with it. That's all it is. If I think of my "smoke detector" right now, I have no reason to 'resist' that thought because there IS nothing to resist there other than a mental image of a smoke detector. Meaning, I have no emotional meaning to give to the smoke detector. It's never the image itself in our minds which we try to resist, it's the emotional REPRESENTATION of that image that we fear.

We create our lives and realities through our BELIEFS.....not simply our thoughts. And again beliefs are thoughts with strong emotional charges associated with them.

Yes the thought most likely IS the stimulus. But, it's the MEANING behind the thought (always an emotional manifestation) that is what we are trying to get away from.
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby ashley72 » Sat Dec 03, 2016 11:21 pm

We could probably talk about this all day.

I'm finding it a little difficult to follow your argument, you seem to contradict yourself. You start out challenging my view, but at the end seem to agree that a thought can act as both as the stimulus & a response to a stimulus.

Yes, our thoughts are linked to our emotions, and equally so our emotions are linked to our thoughts. It's all part of the same nervous system that gets aroused. Beliefs are merely thoughts which we regard as truths. For this reason they tend to hold greater meaning, which in turn can cause greater emotional responses depending how it impacts on our world view. I might believe that there is a god, and I might argue with someone & even physically fight with someone, in some cases people can even be moved to kill over defending that belief in god. Completely irrational...which is why irrationality is the square root of all evil. Lol

In respect to fear we tend to put something into one of three categories, fight, flight or freeze. If we are stronger we tend to fight, if we a weaker we tend to flight or freeze.

If you're scared of spiders because you believe they can hurt you, if you get exposed to anything about spiders you might try & kill it or run away from it. Just talking about spiders will even cause a fear response...any exposure be a thought, an image, the feel or sound of a spider could act as a stimulus for a fear response. I could come up to you & throw a plastic spider at you & that could cause you to scream & run. Completely irrational but it's a very normal fear response. So even a lump of harmless plastic can metaphorically link or map to something. Which is of course DANGER!!!

Therefore, anything which can map or point to danger will act as a stimulus & cause fear to arise. Meaning is all about mapping from one thing to another.
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Re: Shifting attention from thought

Postby Enlightened2B » Sun Dec 04, 2016 12:29 am

Not disagreeing with you Ash, was just initially making a case for why 'shifting our attention' to the body is essential.

Interrupting thoughts to break the pattern of thinking, is essential to re-wire the brain and re-train your thought patterns, but, not in pushing them away. In the aspect of trying to push away thought which is something very very different (the more attention you put on anything, the more it grows) you are actually putting so much attention on the NOT WANTING of that thought, that of course you are resisting it and the more attention we put on anything in our experience, that part of our experience naturally grows. You will FEEL in your body that unpleasant emotion when you are actually 'resisting' something.

But, interrupting your thoughts is something very very different and is the basis for all brain re-training protocols and this is how myself and countless other people are healing their bodies of chronic health conditions. I'll tell you that I didn't believe it until I tried it! I will share my blog piece that I wrote on my own healing experiences with brain re-training.

Seeing them as thoughts from a distance and simply allowing whatever manifestation is happening in the body to be, is something far far different. That's why you WANT to be with the feeling sensation in the body just sitting with it unconditionally, loving it, because emotions that are resisted lead to chronic illness and resisting emotions/feelings by seeing them as dangerous (which is what the amygdala does) is very unhealthy. But, you don't have to keep your attention on the 'mental image' of whatever it is you were thinking about. Doing that just keeps the story going and going and going. There is literally zero reason to ever do that, unless you believe your thoughts to represent an objective truth about 'reality'. Then you will never get out of your own mind. I immediately with negative thoughts shift my attention to where I feel the feeling in my body. Often it's in my chest or abdomen/solar plexus area. And I just stay with that sensation completely, while taking my attention out of the story of my mind, by accepting right then and there......it's just a thought.

So, you have to be able interrupt a thought (basically mindfulness) to SEE the thought as 'not you'. 'Doing nothing' will allow our minds to run on autopilot essentially and those same old neural pathways will continue to play out. That's why mindfulness or something of the like is so powerful. So, therefore, in the process of non resistance, there is an effort required in shifting your attention to the body. Non resistance does not mean 'doing nothing'. Non resistance means simply.......not fighting against.
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