A fresh look at thinking

Since realising that I spend almost every moment of my day caught up in thought, I’ve been noticing how busy my mind is all the time. Like ALL the time. Non- stop. Witter witter witter. Most of the time I don’t even hear it because it’s so constant. Like the hum of my computer I can hear now that I’m aware of it, or the tick of the clock. Always there, but never usually something to pay attention to. Until I do. Every minute or so, a thought announces itself like my kids do whenever they want something!

“Pay me some attention! Give me food! Why are you so tired! When are you going to get yourself together! Why are you so lazy! Remember to call your mother.” On and on and on.  Often my thinking comes with a feeling. Right now the feeling is tired and fed up.  Literally as I’m typing this the thought flashes through that my kids are in the next room and how lucky I am that I could go give them a cuddle any minute and I feel a smile on my lips and a skip in my heart.

I have a long – standing problem that needs solving. (Just one of a few!) Typically, my way of thinking is that I need to DO something to solve this problem. Think through different options. List pros and cons. Get other people’s opinions. Maybe I could change my thinking about it, make it more positive or reframe it? I go round and round in circles – in some cases for years and never get anywhere. Even with all the thinking, the problem is still there so clearly I’ve never figured out the solution!

Then something happens, for example, I lose my car keys. Like properly lose them. I’ve searched through every sofa cushion, counter top, easily accessible drawers, floor space and still, they don’t turn up. I cannot for the life of me figure out where to look next. I stop to carry on getting the kids ready – I know the keys are in the house somewhere so they’ll turn up sometime and, in the meantime, if I have to, I’m pretty sure I know where the spare is. Suddenly, in the space that’s created when I stop trying to figure it out, a fresh thought pops in and I remember exactly where they are – in someone’s bag after we went for a walk yesterday and I didn’t take them out!

We see things in a fresh way when our minds get empty for a moment. Just a moment is all it takes. The answers are always there waiting to come in only we tend to keep such a hold on our thinking that we can’t see new thoughts. We innocently attach ourselves to certain thoughts and patterns of thinking and feeling that we get stuck, like what I’m doing in trying to solve my ‘problem’.

Fresh thinking comes in with a lightness and an ease that doesn’t feel the same as when we’re working hard to figure it out. It’s the feeling you get when ‘inspiration’ strikes – often when you’re completely relaxed and not in ‘problem – solving’ mode. Like when you’re in the shower, on holiday or exercising.

Fresh thinking comes as an insight – a totally new thought that pops up from nowhere.  

We all have access to this and it can be tempting to try and figure out how to get to this space so that we can have more fresh thoughts and insights but, like a sponge, the more you fill it up with water, the less space there is for new water. Knowing that our thoughts, all thoughts, will pass through like water through a sponge, without us having to do anything, means that we are more likely to allow fresh thoughts in and open ourselves up to a whole new way of seeing something.

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