I distinctly remember, when I first ventured into meditation and attempted to quiet my thoughts, that I had a fear that I would completely disappear.
My brain chatter was my identity. I had to have a continuous train of thought at any given point in my life, in order to anchor myself to reality.
And if I came close to quieting these thoughts, to thinking of nothing, there grew a strong, primal fear within me that I would cease to exist if I succeeded.
Can you relate?
What’s going on here?
In reality, our thoughts are just one aspect of our being, and one dimension of our mind. Our thoughts are an expression of our left brained, critical thinking part of our selves that is always analyzing, comparing and critiquing.
It helps to visualize this aspect of yourself as having a separate identity. It’s like a force inside you with its own agenda. This may be hard to visualize initially, it might feel like your thoughts are your whole identity – I think, therefore I am.
But this is really just your thoughts doing a really good job of self-preservation. What would happen if you stopped thinking? That part would disappear, temporarily. And it doesn’t want to disappear at all.
So it tells you “I am your entire reality. You need me. If you leave me, you will cease to exist.” Notice how this language is at once needy, demanding and borderline abusive? Your conscious mind will do whatever it can to remain the only one in control.
Everything is not like it seems
The truth, whether you’ve experienced it or not yet, is that our thoughts are just one of the many resources at our disposal. You have creativity, emotions, intuition and other facets to your being that have nothing to do with the continuous thoughts that play in your head.
You are not your thoughts.
Rather, your thoughts are yours.
They are part of a larger you, one that can choose to use your critical mind when it’s time for critical thinking, and to turn it back off and use a completely different resource, like feeling love (Newsflash: feeling emotions has nothing to do with your critical mind).
Your mind would like you to think that “You think, therefore you are”, but in truth, if you think that way you actually aren’t – aren’t completely present, aren’t completely in tune with your broader reality.
And yet, when you first set forth on your journey of disconnecting from your thoughts and connecting to “the real you”, you may find yourself faced with a wave of fear, sometimes bordering on panic. Some people experience this type of fear when they try to relax – this is their tension fearing that it will cease to exist.
How do you overcome this and move on?
First of all, it’s important to appreciate that this is a normal, natural part of the process. You now have a newfound understanding of why this is. Accepting the fact that you are afraid lessens the fear and makes it easier to handle.
Secondly, by continuously pushing yourself just a little bit to explore these new aspect of your consciousness, by embracing and letting yourself feel just a bit of that uncomfortable fear that comes from letting go of the tight grip your mind has on your identity.
Trust me. There is a vast world that lies beyond your conscious thoughts.
And trust yourself to find the right attitude, inner resources and insights necessary to discover this dimension by yourself. Personal growth always involves a certain amount of discomfort. But in retrospect, this discomfort is always worth the rewards that come with it.