Imagine yourself in a new town. You have time to spare so you hire a tour guide. You meet at 9 am and he offers you an itinerary – the local museum, the waterfalls, the historic bridges, the castle etc. You turn up at 9 am all ready for the day. All goes according to plan – for the first three minutes. You follow his words and gaze around the charming little museum and then he’s off…
First he talks about where the word museum comes from then what museums would be like if they were all under water, then the band Muse, then what a muse is and whether God needed a muse or a museum or maybe a church is a museum to God. Or for God. Hard to tell…… And that’s just in the fourth minute.
Perhaps your thoughts are like that.
Have you ever noticed how the simplest most elementary thought can lead to a remarkable series of connections? It’s as if Terry Gilliam was up there in your head space devising his next movie.
Is this a problem? This will of course depend on circumstances. Its probably best drivers, air traffic controllers, vets, doctors, soldiers, police, midwives and puppeteers and other vital folk aren’t having these strange mental journeys while they’re on the job. Focus is necessary – keep your hand on the trigger, forceps, strings!.
But what I’m stressing here is the relationship we have with our thoughts.
Most of us come to believe that we are our thoughts and that what they incline us towards is what we are. But we are much more than our thoughts.
Our bodies have been around for thousands of years and have evolved sophisticated ways of responding to the world. Consider the gut instinct you feel when you meet someone for the first time or the quick and inexplicable feeling that tells you something isn’t quite right. We now know that the body responds a lot quicker than the mind and that makes sense – our primary instinctual drives are the oldest parts of us. This alone lets us know that we are more than our thoughts.
So next time the tour guide starts wandering around up there relax: its only thinking. Learn some mindfulness and gain a comfortable distance on your thoughts so that they might take their proper place as invaluable but not definitive. There’s a lot to you – enjoy it.