Suppressing thoughts?!

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Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby Beingabeing » Sun May 14, 2017 1:58 pm

So I've now finished reading a new earth and I'm feeling a little confused.

Now when I start to think I try to be aware of those thoughts but when I'm aware of them they go away. Then it kind of just feels empty. So then I think, am I suppressing my thoughts and in turn my emotions?

At other times I find myself wondering which thoughts are conscious and which ones aren't. I've become quite confused!

Another thing I was wondering, what about empathy? I'm very empathetic so much so that I often feel others pain even if they are complete strangers. Is this then being unconscious because I allow myself to feel the suffering of others? :?

Thank you to anyone that can help my understanding :)
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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby eputkonen » Sun May 14, 2017 3:48 pm

"Now when I start to think I try to be aware of those thoughts but when I'm aware of them they go away. Then it kind of just feels empty. So then I think, am I suppressing my thoughts and in turn my emotions? "

No, you are not suppressing your thoughts. Sometimes in watching them - thoughts go away. For me, it is inhabiting the body....if I am very present and fully experiencing the now...there is no thought.

It happened easy for you...you stopped thinking. Now quit bringing thought back by thinking about it. Quit analyzing. It may feel empty to the ego...but I suggest diving into the emptiness and go deeper.

"Another thing I was wondering, what about empathy? I'm very empathetic so much so that I often feel others pain even if they are complete strangers. Is this then being unconscious because I allow myself to feel the suffering of others? :? "

Perhaps. Suffering is a mental illusion, and suffering is something nearly everyone experiences (except the small minority who no longer suffer). So I guess the question is...do you want to suffer? Not only your own suffering, but all other's as well?
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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby Beingabeing » Sun May 14, 2017 4:32 pm

Hi eputkonen,

Thank you for your comment. It is as you say, I do start to analyse after the thinking has stopped.

I suppose when there is no thought and just emptiness, I start to feel like I no longer exist. This must be the ego diminishing.

I could keep the "no thought" going for quite a while but I become confused by the empty feeling then thought comes back. I will go deeper into this emptiness as you suggest.

do you want to suffer? Not only your own suffering, but all other's as well?


No would be the short answer to this but I also don't want to become cold and detached :|
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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby Webwanderer » Sun May 14, 2017 6:12 pm

Behind each automatic or unconscious thought there is a judgment, a meaning, a belief. The most bothersome ones are the most emotionally charged. To practice awareness of such arising thoughts, or to watch thoughts, opens the door to exploring their origin and possibly altering their effect on us. What do you have to believe for such thoughts to arise automatically? What meaning do you have to apply to circumstances and events to make them arise this way rather than that? What feels right beyond any words?

Watching thoughts offers us the opportunity to become more conscious of our present experience rather than being simply automatons of past conditioning. Whether such conditioning was imposed by our upbringing, or adopted by emotional attachment through a conscious approach, we can choose a better way. Are our beliefs that give birth to arising thoughts worth holding; or could we apply some different meaning, based on conscious intent, to such conditions as to foster new beliefs that create a preferable experience?

We spend a good deal of time in imagination, and as a fundamental tool of life it is a wonderful gift. How we use such a gift however, can make a large difference between joy and pain. Intent and focus, rather than history and habit, is key making changes that enhance our life experience.

Watching thoughts is where it begins.

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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby eputkonen » Mon May 15, 2017 1:58 am

"I suppose when there is no thought and just emptiness, I start to feel like I no longer exist. This must be the ego diminishing. "

Yes, it is the ego. You clearly do exist...and you can even act while not thinking (I am not saying stupidly, but like an athlete in the zone when thought only interferes with top performance). It is the only the thought of you that is missing.

"
do you want to suffer? Not only your own suffering, but all other's as well?

No would be the short answer to this but I also don't want to become cold and detached"

Detachment does not mean you are cold or unfeeling.
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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby Beingabeing » Mon May 15, 2017 10:39 am

Thank you, WW and Eputkonen,

So you can still be empathetic but in a conscious way, so as not to involve the ego?

What do you have to believe for such thoughts to arise automatically?


When I become aware of any thoughts that will usually lead to flash backs, the pain body or dialogues of the past they immediately go away.

I've always been quite open to my feelings and just let myself feel the emotions.

Now when I am conscious of these thoughts and they go away, it feels like I'm avoiding them.

This is when thought comes back and I start to doubt what I'm doing and not trust it, thinking it will make me hold onto these emotions instead of releasing them.

When I become aware it feels as though the concentration on the present stops the thoughts. Like they are redirected into the now. I would imagine this could be quite tiring to do all the time though?
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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby Webwanderer » Mon May 15, 2017 2:13 pm

Beingabeing wrote:I've always been quite open to my feelings and just let myself feel the emotions.

Our emotions tell us about the nature of our thinking/believing. When your emotions arise, what are you thinking? It will likely be an emotion triggered from an existing thought/belief. This thought belief will be connected to the meaning you hold for whatever circumstances gave rise to the emotion. So feeling the emotion is most helpful in following it to, and recognizing, the underlying belief and the meaning you are applying (likely habitual by this point) to feel the way you do.

Now when I am conscious of these thoughts and they go away, it feels like I'm avoiding them
.
Makes sense. When you focus on the thoughts themselves, without looking for their meaning origin, the context of experience has changed so the energy changes. The underlying issue however does not, so the issue is unresolved and likely to return. For recurring thought-emotions, I suggest finding the meaning that generates the them and change it to something less troublesome. It's just a choice. You made the initial choice in meaning that got you where you are, albeit through existing conditioning, so you can also make the conscious choice to see it in a new way, a new meaning perspective.

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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby painBody » Tue May 16, 2017 11:29 pm

Hi Beingabeing,

These are great questions to ponder.

Suppressing thoughts/emotions - When you consciously watch what you're feeling/thinking, the energy carried by those thoughts/emotions tends to diminish, as you realize the utter futility and insignificance of (often) compulsive and repetitive thinking that is both irrelevant to the present moment and bothersome. You are then no longer immersed in and living those thoughts. So, instead of going, "How dare he do that to me twenty years ago ?!!!", you go, "Ah ok, it's that silly thought again." I wouldn't necessarily call it "suppressing" thoughts; it's more like they fade away as an indirect consequence of awareness.

Useless thoughts tend not to be able to survive under the light of presence. The unconscious mind is like an unsupervised 5 yr old boy doing something naughty. Your conscious awareness is like the parent walking into the boy's room and going, "Charlie, what are you doing ?", and the boy goes, "Nothing, Mom !" and stops his mischief. As long as you're in his room, watching him, the boy is well behaved. Then, the mother walks out, no longer watching him, and he gets up to his usual mischief again. The unconscious mind is very naughty ! :mrgreen:

There is a subtle distinction to be made with regard to the concept of "thought suppression". When I think of "suppressing" thoughts, I think of denial, like when you're subjected to trauma, and your unconscious mind comes up with the coping strategy of suppressing/hiding the thought to make the situation more bearable. Let's say your loved one died, and you were in denial of his death, that would be thought suppression ... that is very different from what happens to thoughts that are observed ... in fact, those are two opposite extremes ! What you're talking about is not really thought suppression in the true sense. You're not hiding the thought, you're fully observing it to the point that it fades away on its own ... and there is nothing wrong with that, it's very positive. Denial, on the other hand, tends to do more harm than good.

Conscious/unconscious thoughts - This is a question of "Are you using your mind or is the mind using you ?", which is something that Eckhart points out a lot in his talks. When the thought streams are identified with in the absence of awareness, the unconscious mind is using the person, and that could be called "unconscious thinking". However, on the other hand, if, in a state of presence, a challenge arises, and the mind is voluntarily used to resolve the situation, that could be called "conscious thinking". Again, an example will tell it best - Unconscious thinking: You're driving to work and your mind says, "How many times do I need to tell that neighbor not to slam his door early in the morning ?" (i.e. something totally irrelevant to the present moment and involuntary) Conscious thinking: You're about to land an overweight airplane with too much fuel onboard, and you use your mind to figure out which runway is the longest and doesn't have a steep dropoff at the end, given the airport's charts.

So, yeah, when the mind is used like a tool on a toolbelt around your waist, that's conscious thinking ... unconscious otherwise. I think it's fair to say that conscious = voluntary, unconscious = involuntary. That said, unconscious thoughts are not really a problem, as long as they're watched. And, as I mentioned above, that's because they often get suppressed under the light of awareness.

Empathy - There is nothing unconscious about empathy in and of itself. In fact, I'd argue that it is a strong indicator of presence, and here's why. When a person (someone else) in your surroundings is going through a lot of psychological suffering, and you are able to feel that negative energy, you have to be present to a certain extent ! If, on the other hand, you're texting on your phone while your suffering friend is talking to you and crying, you're not present. If you're able to feel another's energy field, that indicates a level of awareness in you. A radio has to be turned *on* to pick up a radio station :) Now, keep in mind, I'm only talking about *feeling* the other person's energy. I'm not talking about creating a story around the other person's suffering ... "There is so much injustice in this world. My friend doesn't deserve this." ... that's a story.

So, as long as you're just feeling the other's energy, that's presence. You're sitting beside your friend, maybe with your arm around her ... not getting lost in her story, not trying to advise her or impose your ideas on her ... just perceiving her. You may feel sadness and even start crying, as you continue to perceive ... that is still presence. But, if your mind starts to become active and you get lost in her story or create one of your own, that is no longer presence, that is your own unconscious mind getting tangled up in the other's unconsciousness and the two of you are feeding each other ... two bundles of conditioning, yours and hers, forming a union and creating more unconsciousness.

That is why, you'll have noticed, when a friend is suffering, they often just want you to sit there and listen and not offer advice. Why is that ? Because they just want your field of presence ... they don't want your unconsciousness in addition to their own :)

Interestingly, the dictionary definition of "empathy" largely contradicts what I've said here, and I think Eckhart would agree with me ... it is the usual narrow definition created by the unconscious mind that is largely unaware of the formless. It equates empathy with psychological identification (i.e. unconsciousness), but it does acknowledge the conscious aspect of empathy - "vicarious experiencing of the feelings" :)

noun
1.
the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.


----------------------------------

Last but not least, I'd like to offer a little anecdote about empathy from my own life. One Christmas during my college years, I was sitting outside the college library in plain sight and crying my eyes out because I was extremely lonely and depressed. I watched for long minutes as hundreds of people all around me were rushing to classes, texting on their phones, making out, whatever ... totally oblivious of me. One older man came to me ... he bent down a bit to meet my face, looked in my eyes, smiled, said "Merry Christmas", and walked away gracefully. I was touched so much I started crying even more intensely, but I felt a bright light shine, however briefly, at the center of the black hole within me ... and it felt heavenly, like I had been touched by God. Even though my concept of "God" at that time was the usual narrow one, I got a glimpse of something I recognized as being special, outside of the realm of normal human existence. At that moment, that was the best possible thing anyone could have done for me ... I just needed to be noticed ... I needed a field of presence, however small. I think I will take the memory of that amazing gesture to my grave.
Last edited by painBody on Wed May 17, 2017 1:04 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby painBody » Wed May 17, 2017 12:34 am

Webwanderer wrote:
Beingabeing wrote:I've always been quite open to my feelings and just let myself feel the emotions.

Our emotions tell us about the nature of our thinking/believing. When your emotions arise, what are you thinking? It will likely be an emotion triggered from an existing thought/belief. This thought belief will be connected to the meaning you hold for whatever circumstances gave rise to the emotion. So feeling the emotion is most helpful in following it to, and recognizing, the underlying belief and the meaning you are applying (likely habitual by this point) to feel the way you do.

Now when I am conscious of these thoughts and they go away, it feels like I'm avoiding them
.
Makes sense. When you focus on the thoughts themselves, without looking for their meaning origin, the context of experience has changed so the energy changes. The underlying issue however does not, so the issue is unresolved and likely to return. For recurring thought-emotions, I suggest finding the meaning that generates the them and change it to something less troublesome. It's just a choice. You made the initial choice in meaning that got you where you are, albeit through existing conditioning, so you can also make the conscious choice to see it in a new way, a new meaning perspective.

WW


This is an interesting perspective, WW. Finding meaning, I agree, can be helpful in "resolving" the issue underlying a thought stream or reducing its intensity. I did want to add something to this.

Personally, I have not been able to assign meaning to a lot of stuff that has happened in my life, except, perhaps, to say that I, like everyone else on this Earth, have been subjected to terrible unconsciousness by others ... stuff that reverberates within me to this day, creating unpleasant thought streams and (disturbing) dreams. And, I have learned to embrace what Eckhart calls "the power of not knowing". Not all questions have adequate/satisfactory answers and not all of them need to. I find a great peace in this realization. Not to say that finding meaning is not a good idea, it's just not always possible.

I like to think of the negative thought patterns as radioactive fallout from huge explosions in the past ... it has a half-life and slowly decays over time, its impact lessening over time, though it will never fully cease to exist. And, the fallout has mutated me, changed who I am as a person, made me stronger, although the scars are still noticeable ... just like the folks from Hiroshima or Chernobyl. Now, I could ask, "Why did those atomic bombs have to go off ?", but that is likely just going to lead me down a road of more frustration and discontent, even in the rather unlikely event that I find answers that the mind considers satisfactory ... the mind is powerful, but some things are beyond the reach of its comprehension, and it's best to realize that.

I'd modify the AA prayer slightly ... "God grant me the humility to accept the things I cannot understand, the creativity to utilize the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby Beingabeing » Fri May 19, 2017 3:29 pm

Yet again some wonderful comments!

You write with such clarity, I understand a lot more now.

And again some great analogies, I think I will copy these comments and keep them with me if you dont mind, as a reminder when I start to doubt again.

Thank you so much ☺
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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby painBody » Sat May 20, 2017 12:16 am

Beingabeing wrote:Yet again some wonderful comments!

You write with such clarity, I understand a lot more now.

And again some great analogies, I think I will copy these comments and keep them with me if you dont mind, as a reminder when I start to doubt again.

Thank you so much ☺


Yet again, you're very welcome, and I'm flattered :D

BTW, I looked up "Thought suppression" on Wikipedia, out of curiosity. I think your definition of thought suppression was much more accurate than mine. However, the definition says that it is a "conscious/deliberate attempt to stop thinking", which does not match what you said about yourself - "I try to be aware of those thoughts but when I'm aware of them they go away".

"Thought suppression is when an individual consciously attempts to stop thinking about a particular thought.[1] It is often associated with obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD).[2] OCD is when a person will repeatedly (usually unsuccessfully) attempt to prevent or "neutralize" intrusive distressing thoughts centered on one or more obsessions. It is also related to work on memory inhibition. Thought suppression is relevant to both mental and behavioral levels, possibly leading to ironic effects that are contrary to intention.

When an individual tries to suppress thoughts under a high cognitive load, the frequency of those thoughts increases and becomes more accessible than before.[3][4] Evidence shows that people can prevent their thoughts from being translated into behavior when self-monitoring is high"


So, while you're being deliberate about watching your thoughts, you are not deliberately trying to stop thinking those thoughts ... the fact that they go away on their own is an indirect consequence of watching them.

In fact, as Wikipedia says in the 2nd paragraph, the harder you deliberately try to stop thinking thoughts, the more you will reinforce them. Mark Pifer, a follower of Eckhart, says, "Whatever you resist ... persists." Interestingly, it mentions "self-monitoring", which we could roughly equate to presence, although that is not what was literally meant in the article (I looked up "self-monitoring" too !). I guess it's saying that when there is a level of presence in a person, thoughts do not get translated into behavior, which makes perfect sense.
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Re: Suppressing thoughts?!

Postby painBody » Sat May 20, 2017 11:23 pm

Beingabeing wrote:Now when I start to think I try to be aware of those thoughts but when I'm aware of them they go away. Then it kind of just feels empty.


I did want to address your point of "feeling empty" because it is important.

I think your emptiness results from the fact that, for all these years, your sense of aliveness has derived almost completely from ego and thought identification, i.e. "living in your head" as Eckhart calls it (and, this is the same for all of us, I'm sure). Then, suddenly, we're pointed away from thinking and told that true aliveness is to be found there. And, of course, that is hard to imagine, because we have not yet realized that other kind of aliveness, we have not yet lived it. So, when we begin to inhabit the world that is devoid of thought, at first, it feels empty and meaningless, because we have learned to associate aliveness and meaning with thought. We have not yet made ourselves at home in the realm outside of thought.

Now, perhaps, it would have been easier to inhabit a world devoid of thought, if there were fewer objects in the world of form around us - cars, buildings, televisions, cell phones, computers, whatever ... things that, in fact, deaden our world and immerse us deeper in (ultimately pointless) thought. For instance, if we were born 1000 years ago, we would have far less mental stimulus and we would be much more familiar with the thoughtless/natural realm. We would not feel so compelled to think and "solve problems" (note my use of quotes around those two words). In this day and age, it is no surprise that we are lost in thought ... there are so many "things" that grab our attention ... innumerable things ! Now, the world of things we create is just a reflection of a noisy mind that needs "more". Interestingly (and sadly), the mind and the things it creates, are part of a vicious (and seemingly eternal) cycle - the noisy mind creates more things -> more things means a noisier mind -> which creates even more things -> which leads to an even noisier mind. See where this world is going ? :D

That is why we are sometimes drawn to wilderness settings, which is a sign of sanity re-emerging ... and some people "go off the grid" ... it is, in essence, the kernel of our organism saying, "Give me back the sanity this world has taken away from me !" ... it is a primordial cry for help from within our deepest recesses :) Some people spend weeks or years in Buddhist monasteries, because they just don't want all the stimulus/distractions anymore ... they don't want to be deprived of the one thing that matters.

All said and done, however, I can attest to the same kind of "emptiness" that you speak of. I often need some mental stimulus to keep me going through the day. It doesn't feel "enough" just to be sitting in my room, thoughtless. However, I've learned not to take every single thought seriously, which is probably the most important (and practical) lesson to be learned in all of this, and that could be the first important milestone in one's spiritual journey. I think that being able to discover and inhabit the aliveness outside of thought is a far greater challenge in today's world, and may take a lifetime to realize, so don't beat yourself up if you're not yet there. I wouldn't be surprised if very few (to none) of us are actually there. So, to be practical, I think that finding a balance that works is the key, all said and done.

Short version: Your (and everyone else's) conditioning, which knows only to associate meaning and aliveness with thought, is the reason you feel empty when your thoughts recede. When that happens, try taking a deep breath or feeling your inner body and using that as a portal into the realm outside of thought. It's ok if you're not able to inhabit that realm yet, but see if you can get glimpses of it and see how that feels.
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