Last week I had a thought storm while watching news reports about the terrorist attack at the Brussels airport. We flew out of that airport last August. I am going to be flying to London for coach training in May. A gust of fearful thoughts blew in. Fearful thinking created feelings of fear and worry. Fear built a knot in my stomach. And fear led to more thinking in the form of questioning whether I should ever leave my house again because I could be in danger. Thoughts linked together to create a saga. And my saga looked and felt very real. As real as the explosions in the airport. For the rest of the evening, I was caught up in it.
I was halfway into the next day when I realized the thought storm had blown through. Although world events had not changed, my thinking had moved on to other stuff. In fact, the thought energy of the previous night and the fearful feelings were not even on my radar. Without any help from me, something big happened on the inside.
New thoughts = new feelings = new perception of reality
Thoughts blow in and out like the wind. They literally show up out of no where. Sometimes they appear associated with an event and sometimes they seem random. And although I’d like to believe I have control over them (think positive, think positive), I notice they tend to flow through or hang around, and then leave in their own time.
Have you ever had someone (maybe you) advise you to just “let it go”? And as hard as you try, you just can’t do it? Yeah, me too.
Letting thoughts go on command hasn’t worked too well for me. In fact sometimes the effort involved in letting them go has backfired and the thoughts have repeated so many times they get even louder and feel even more solid. Real. It looks to me like giving them a dose of extra attention, or love, has actually kept them hanging around. And then I pile some judgment on myself (more thinking) for not being able to let them go. As if letting them go would be a better, more “enlightened” choice.
But what if it’s not a choice?
Like the wind and clouds, thoughts are fluid. Some of them are below the surface of our awareness and we don’t even realize they are there. Under the radar they are filtering thorough consciousness to create our perception of reality.
Some of them show up in the form of chatter. We hear them loud and clear. They might be fleeting or repetitious. We may believe them or we may not. Linked together, and repeated, they create stories about our world and who we are. They can seem solid. Hail or ice instead of wind and clouds.
Some thoughts are fresh and new. Insights, showing up as a slice of inner wisdom coming through our consciousness. And suddenly, we see a new reality even though nothing has changed.
When the thought storms settle, the insights have a way of slipping in. A fresh cookie emerges from the metaphorical oven of the universe. Something from nothing. Insights may come in as a whisper or a tap on the shoulder. Or, they come in with a big bang. An OMG moment. Creative genius. Insights sound exciting. I think I’d like to choose to have more of these.
But what if it’s not a choice?
Recently, upon waking, my husband randomly came up with a brilliant insight about what do to with our broken pool filter. Insight and pool filter may seem like an unlikely combination. But an insight is simply a brand new fresh thought. Sometimes an answer to something that looks like a problem. It may or may not be spiritual or deep. One minute my husband was going from sleep to awake and mumbling a groggy “good morning” and the next, he was a pool repair genius and telling me all about it. He didn’t have the luxury or pressure of choosing that insight.
What I’m seeing more clearly than ever before is that we do not choose. Our thoughts are not in our control. I must confess I’m a bit blown away by this. It turns quite a few of my long held beliefs upside down. But since beliefs are made of thought, they dissolve when they don’t look true anymore. And I don’t even have to do anything with them.
What I love about this is that it takes the pressure off and helps melt the judgment. If I can’t control the fact that I’m making my grocery list during yoga class, I’m free to hang out where ever I’m at until the next batch of thought rolls in.
I am always free to choose to take action. Or not. I’ve yet to decide to run out to the grocery store in the middle of yoga. And without effort, my grocery list eventually floats away. Sometimes I’m left with some empty space for awhile until the next batch flows in.
There is a great freedom in knowing it’s not up to me to fix my thinking with more thinking.
And that I don’t need to work really hard to let something go.
AND, that I don’t need to believe everything I think. Or act on it.