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Ideas versus Thoughts

Since our earliest childhood, our brain has endlessly provided us with continuous trains of thoughts, so much so that this process has become to us as natural as breathing, an automatism that we never question. Some, quite rightfully, call that process the narrator’s voice because it constantly comments, without us even paying attention, on our life and highlights the way we judge it.

If we look or listen to our thoughts more closely, we quickly realize that they are just the incessant “chatter” of our brain and that our brain is a particularly talkative “entity”! Designed as a problem-solving tool necessary for our adaptation and our survival in our immediate environment, it offers us, at every moment of our life, possibilities to adapt to our surroundings or resolve the problems we encounter, or not. Indeed, as our brain contains also our imaginative tool, the one which allows us to visualize all our dreams, or nightmares, in our mind and thus imagine the worst as well as the best to come.

If we let it go free, as it is generally the case, its interface, like an always plugged computer, will be working constantly even if we have no “equation” to solve; in this case, if it is in need of an equation, it will create potential ones and offer them to us in the form of a projection.
Have you ever noticed how we tend, without even realizing it, to project hypotheses, often negative, about our future? What if such a situation happened to me, what would I do? If I go to that place tomorrow, what will I do if it rains? Are there going to be traffic jam? If we have to meet someone, we build up all the possible dialogues in our head for several minutes, sometimes even several hours, depending on the issue of this meeting… Or we replay an argument that took place earlier to try and change the unwanting outcome we encountered…

As thoughts are permanently in our head since the beginning of our life as a narrating voice, we mistake them with the expression of our inner voice and therefore we follow them wherever they take us. I have bad news for you: thoughts are not at all the expression of our inner voice! Thoughts are just thoughts, they are the bare mechanical expression of our brain which deciphers the world with words and tries to solve it like a billion micro-problems that are posed to it every minute of every day. Thoughts are also our ego’s favourite means of expression…

What if I told you that we have the power to stop this process as often as we want? Indeed, we can put our brain on standby and silence all thoughts for a given period of time, while waiting to have a real problem to solve or a project to implement. When the brain gets quiet (finally!), silence occurs and our inner voice, the real voice of our inner self, can finally emerge and express itself; and when it does, it is not with thoughts but with ideas!
For those who have trouble telling the difference, it’s actually quite simple:

– A thought is a series of sentences which, starting with a given theme, constantly jumps from one subject to another: “my car made a strange noise this morning, I should perhaps take it to the garage but if I take it to the garage and need to have it repaired, it will trigger an unexpected expense and I have no saved money for it; at the same time, if I don’t take it to the garage and it breaks down, it will make my life more complicated because I have to go and see my parents in 2 weeks and I can’t do it without my car… And it’s been such a long time since I’ve been home that I long to be back in my childhood bedroom, where I felt so safe… Hey, that reminds me of when I was 15 and my best friend and I…” and it can last for hours…

– An idea is a concept, a proposal for an experience or creation whispered by our inner self based on who we are and what we enjoy to do: an idea for a drawing or motif for a painting, a theme for a new professional orientation, the desire to discover a new country or a new recreational or sporting activity, a meeting with friends… Thoughts, if directed correctly, will come in support to implement ideas as imaginative and creative tools.

Quieting our “inside” also allows us to better enjoy the present moment because we are able to focus on what we are doing and what we are feeling at the precise moment we are doing it without interference noises in our mind.

It is an established fact that when we do 2 things at the same time, we do neither of them correctly because we are not physically and mentally engaged in any of them and, in the end, we will probably not remember neither of them because we will not have focused our attention on one nor the other. This is also why it is not recommended to eat in front of the TV or while scrolling on our phone because our mind being focused on something else, we are not be able to listen to the sensations of taste, satiety and well-being that our body sends us, we will therefore not enjoy our meal and will not be able to stop eating when our body says it received enough.

So, how can we generate inner silence? First, I invite you to visualize your thoughts as a permanent news thread which offers you information, for the most part, irrelevant to you because it is not based on any tangible reality as it being projections of situations or problems which do not exist and probably will never. On a news thread, if the news you see don’t interest you, you just keep on scrolling; in the same way, if the thoughts you see passing by are not relevant to you because they are not attached to anything real, do not pay attention to them, just let them pass: they are just thoughts, a distant chatter that doesn’t concern you. It is we who give importance to our thoughts, it is the emotions that we imprint on them that make them real to us.

It is also because we are afraid of silence that we keep on feeding our thoughts. Indeed, silence is that moment of emptiness which precedes novelty – the famous calm before the storm –, the surprise of the next moment. Unfortunately, many of us do not like surprises – and the change that comes with it – because we do not know how to respond to them and therefore are afraid of them; if only we had enough faith in life to think that every change or new situation offers us a great opportunity to feel love and happiness rather than a hurricane of bad postures…

When we regain control of our thoughts, our brain gradually adapts to responding only to our direct requests to solve an existing problem or equation and stops its endless chitchat. This change also involves no longer considering each event in our life as a problem to be solved but simply as an experience to be lived surfing on the energy of the moment while remembering that, in most situations in our life, we are not in danger. We have the power to change the content of our thoughts at any time, reject those that do not suit us and replace those that have a negative connotation with a positive projection.

For my part, it is meditation, and the masters who have guided me in recent years such as Justin Michael Williams, which allowed me to understand that thoughts were merely a succession of words in my head with ultimately, for the most part, little interest and relevance. After integrating that my brain was simply a tool, my integrated PC, I understood that it was me who not only had control over it but who had the role of moderator over my thoughts and over the very way in which my brain proposed them to me, since it was I who determined their importance. I simply took back the power that had always been mine.

If you want to experience the power you have over your train of thoughts and how you can control them, I invite you to sit in a quiet place, close your eyes and breathe calmly. Watch your thoughts pass by without hanging on to them, a bit as if you were switching from one channel to another – “OK, this is an episode of Star Trek, this is the news, this is a cartoon…” –, see how, ultimately, each of these thoughts passes, without any particular emotional impact on you if you don’t hold on to them, if you don’t give them any substance. Then, accept this space, this silence which little by little emerges inside you and keep it for a few moments to see the effect it has upon you. If you repeat the exercise regularly, you will quickly be able to silence your thoughts when they are not useful to you in order to go straight to new and playful ideas.

For those who’d rather read long texts on paper, you can download this article in PDF.

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