julia_whirly wrote:I work in Psychiatry, and although i've studied psychology/therapies, and worked in this field for many years, I have had trouble applying techniques to myself.
This is a common problem among my psychologist friends because their knowledge comes from attempting to observe other people's minds rather than observing their own mind, or from the theoretical constructs of others operating within the same limitations.
To understand the nature and life-cycle of a thought-form, it's necessary to observe one's own mind.
A basic understanding of these matters is of very great help in dealing with troublesome thought-forms.
Of course, I realize that you
understand that, or you wouldn't be here at all.
When trying to work out what my problems were in the past, i'd come to the conclusion that I had OCD...
This is another huge problem with psychologists. They mistake pinning an empty label on something for understanding the condition.
Did it help you to label your condition "OCD"?
Of course not!
OCD is a meaningless label because it describes nothing more than an extreme example of the normal human condition (and with no real understanding of the predicament at that).
What do we really mean when we say that someone suffers from OCD?
Essentially, we mean that they're in the grip of one or more compulsive thought-forms.
But this diagnosis applies to 99% of all people.
I'm aware that there are other diagnostic criteria for OCD, but being helplessly in the grip of a repetitive thought-form is the crux of the matter.
But how many people are not obsessed by thoughts about their work, partner, weight, attractiveness, social skills, etc.?
Yet we accept such obsessions as normal and even desirable, often rewarding the victims with promotion or other forms of increased social status.
These are obsessions that society approves of and encourages because neuroses of this type tend to increase the individuals ambition and productivity.
But the stereotypical obsessive-compulsive's fixations - repeated hand-washing or avoiding cracks in the sidewalk, for example - are without redeeming social value and therefore considered to be indicative of mental illness.
The truth is that however irrational the obsessive-compulsive's behaviour may appear, it comes into being in exactly the same way as any other cycle of mechanical, repetitive thoughts.
The only difference is that the obsessive-compulsive knows
that he or she is suffering, whereas the equally obsessed workaholic generally considers his illness an asset.
In reality, both are in a pathological condition.
To see how they got that way we need to take a look at what thought-forms actually are and how they operate in the collective and individual consciousness.
Thoughts are living things. They have energy, intelligence and an agenda, which (like that of all living entities) is to acquire enough energy to ensure their own survival and prosperity for as long as possible.
How they achieve this will depend on their precise nature, but one thing is certain - you'll be providing the energy!
So how does a thought-form come into being?
There are two kinds of thought-forms - those formed by conscious thought (if I decide to build an image of the Taj Mahal in my mind, for example) and those formed by unconscious desire (more precisely, the desire may be conscious, but the creation of the thought-form is not).
We need only deal with unconsciously created thought-forms here, are they're the ones that tend to cause problems.
Let's say you're sitting in a restaurant and a waiter pushes the sweet-trolley past your table.
You see a delicious looking chocolate cake.
You feel desire for it.
You imagine how it will taste.
You've created an unconscious thought-form of desire for that cake.
In meditation, you can actually observe the formation of individual thought-forms and watch them rise and fall in your consciousness.
If you could see this one, it would appear as a slice of chocolate cake.
But back to the restaurant.
You've created the thought-form and the power of your desire has given it quite a good charge of energy.
At this point, one of two things can happen.
1) You remember your diet and decide not to order the cake.
2) You succumb to the thought-form and tuck into a generous slice of the cake.
If you exercise self-control the thought-form will be weakened and recede into your unconscious mind for the time being.
But if you eat the cake the pleasure of fulfilled desire will add to the thought-forms charge of energy.
Let's suppose that you eat the cake.
The thought-form will be well-charged with energy and recede into your unconscious mind until it begins to get low on energy.
Then it will surface once again into your conscious mind.
At this point you'll experience a strong desire to eat more chocolate cake.
You can react to this desire in three possible ways.
1) You can eat more cake. This will once more charge up the thought-form, which will be even stronger the next time it surfaces. That's how cycles of addiction are formed.
2) You can fight against the temptation and refuse to eat any more cake. The energy produced by your struggle will also feed the thought-form and make it more powerful.
The third possibility is to react to the thought-form with complete indifference. Just allow it to be there but don't feed it by having an orgy of chocolate cake eating, or by struggling to do the opposite. Ignore it, welcome it, do anything but engage with it on its own level (thoughts of, chocolate cake - should I, shouldn't I?).
Of course, this strategy presupposes that you're sufficiently conscious to recognize the thought-form for what it is (rather than being totally identified with it, in which case your choices are restricted to the first two options, neither of which is helpful).
If you can succeed in maintaining an attitude of indifference, the thought-form will receive no energy and be considerably weaker and easier to resist with each subsequent appearance, until it eventually becomes de-energized and ceases to be a problem.
with ruminative thoughts of a guilt nature. It seemed as if there was no end to this problem, since if i ever managed to eliminate a particular thought complex, a new and infinitely worse (or so it seemed) one would pop into it's place.
The pattern was :
* Ruminate continuously about how guilty I felt, try and convince/rationalise to myself that I don't need to feel like this/run through the scenario in my head......(All the while my fear and anxiety would be sky high) Eventually it may die down, but then i'd be living in fear that i'd either start to think guilty thoughts, or see something to trigger the next bout.
What I realised was that there is a never ending supply of "guilty thoughts" I can have, so there's no point in trying to eliminate them. I needed to realise deeply that whatever i did, a new thought complex would always replace the last one, so to view these thoughts differently was what was needed. I try (and it isn't easy) to view all such thoughts as products of the "tormenting mind", and realise that i'll keep having new ones all the time. Somehow (this week anyhow) it's enabled me to feel less anxious and fearful. I'm trying not to avoid the thoughts.
Thought-forms of guilt are a little different - we can call them "negative desires", as they receive energy from your strong aversion to them and desire to avoid them.
In addition to creating such thought-forms yourself, they can also be picked up from the atmosphere, like psychic fleas.
When your mind vibrates on a particular level, it becomes a magnet for any thought-forms in the atmosphere that vibrate on the same frequency.
That's why, "whatever i did, a new thought complex would always replace the last one".
Your mind was an hospitable environment to thought-forms of guilt because that was its keynote vibration. (It should be noted that beneath this surface layer of conceptual mind is a vast well of pure stillness and bliss than can never be touched by anything you do or anything that's done to you. Discovering this was a real surprise to me.
In such a case it's not enough to de-energize individual thought-forms - they'll be replaced almost immediately by other, similar thought-forms.
As well as de-energizing the thought-forms of guilt, which leaves a vacuum which, as I said, will soon be filled by more of the same, it's necessary to deliberately
create positive thought-forms in their place - the consciously created thought-forms I mentioned above.
In this way you can gradually alter the vibratory rate of your mind so that it no longer acts as a magnet for thought-forms of guilt.
But the essential thing is to stop identifying with them, personalizing them.
Some Buddhists see everything as the "Buddha-mind".
If they feel guilt, they'll say: "Oh, look. There's guilt in the Buddha-mind today!".
They never personalize the thought-form, never identify with it.
I've found this to be an excellent strategy. It soon becomes second-nature.
You are NOT the thought-forms of guilt in your mind.
You're a vast, wise cosmic being who's become temporarily entangled with some problematic thought-forms, that's all.
Try to remember that.
but then i'd be living in fear that i'd either start to think guilty thoughts, or see something to trigger the next bout.
Above all, try to see just how preposterous this really is! You create a self-fulfilling prophecy!
And I've been there, got the T-shirt.
That's why I'm replying at such length. I feel such gratitude at being free of all that horror that I really want to help anyone else stuck in that terrible place.
a way out, I promise you, though there was a time when I almost didn't believe it myself.
And it doesn't depend on any special skills or brilliance, just a shift in awareness, like flipping a coin mentally.
Think of CBT.
Lie down and immerse yourself in guilt and fear. Feel the energy.
Realize that the energy and feelings are just thoughts.
They have no power to harm you.
Then find the still, calm centre underneath the turbulent thought-forms.
Anchor yourself in that stillness and watch the crazy thoughts from that place of absolute security.
You may not find it the first or second time, but it's there in every human mind and you WILL find it if you look for it.
When you find it you'll see that the thought-forms are really nothing to do with you at all, any more than the images projected on a cinema screen are a part of that screen.
That will be the beginning of your freedom from bondage and oppression.
You'll begin to create space around the thought-forms and they'll come to seem far less threatening until eventually you'll be able to deal with them quickly and easily when they arise in everyday life.
And remember, a thought-form isn't an inert object like a cup or a spoon, a thing which, once created is there forever.
A thought-form is a living entity which needs regular doses of energy to survive and the only way it can get that energy is by tricking you into giving it away by getting pulled into a thought-stream of guilt, fear, or whatever corresponds to its nature.
Don't do it!
I'm writing this immediately after my today's experience. I think I can say (I'm not yet 100% sure though) that the way to "de-energize" compulsive thoughts is to allow them. My case is this: I always (from birth) have felt "unfit" (the recurring thought is: I'm unfit, I'm worse than them, I have to change it somehow and I can't!), i.e. always feeling uneasy with people, esp. those who are or seem to be stronger than me, more self-confident and at ease. I feel extremely tense (fearful) and uneasy in all kinds of crowded places, parties, where one has to look good and be nice to everybody and, which is most terrible, do the small talk. The irony is my partner loves these kinds of situations and my life abounds in them.
Now I think it's my ego plus fear that "I will never ever be like those guys, I will never know what to say, I will never be trendy enough...
". Today, as usual, I was in torment, because I had to take part in a "high-society garden party". Still, all the time I was doing my best to stay in my body, to say "yes" to all the emotions (I had pains and was sweating all over
) and not to label people I saw. I admit I just had to rationalize my own feelings because it helped to say "yes" to my "otherness".
You ruminate all the time about feeling guilty, you seem to feel guilty about feeling guilty! I ruminate about being unfit, different, worse and I feel guilty that I just cannot change. Today I allowed myself (once and forever!) to be "different". That's not real me, it's just a kind of strange computer, machine I managed to build throughout my life. After I acknowledged that I AM DIFFERENT and that I don't have to change it, I felt relaxed. And I will continue to allow myself to not to feel good and at ease with certain people, at gatherings. Try to let yourself to feel guilty and remind yourself that it's a psychological structure, a conglomerate you created, not real you. Don't fight it, try to just let it be.
A very brave, honest and moving post, Agnieszka. I can certainly identify with many of your fears (or could have done, I should say, before I learned how to dis
identify from them).
And that, of course, is the point.
You comment: "Now I think it's my ego plus fear that "I will never ever be like those guys, I will never know what to say, I will never be trendy enough...", plainly indicates that, at some level, you actually feel that you should
be like "those guys", i.e., smart, trendy and never at a loss for a witty comment.
Well, there may be a self-help tape that can help you in that ambition, but the Tolle work never will.
Of course, what you really
want is not to be smart and trendy, but simply to feel liked and accepted by those who seem to have those qualities.
So the real problem is craving the acceptance and approval of other people. After all, if you didn't care what they thought of you, you'd hardly be in a sweat about it.
Take a look at a few smart, trendy people who've hit middle-age.
Underneath the surface confidence they live lives of "quiet desperation", because that's really all that an ego-based life has to offer anyone.
They're also full of fears and insecurities, but unlike you, instead of trying finding a real way out, they've devoted themselves to creating a shallow persona that conceals their anxieties to the casual observer.
Then, thank god for the suffering that will eventually free you and ask yourself why on earth you should crave the acceptance and approval of such people?
In truth, they're more deserving of your pity than your admiration.
And when you do see them clearly for what they are and begin to pity them, you find that you certainly won't crave their acceptance and approval any more.