Are we our thoughts? 5 Tips For Regaining Control Of Our MindNov 11, 2020
What is the origin of thoughts, and are we, in fact, our thoughts?
“I think therefore I am” famously said by 18th Century Philosopher Rene Descartes, is the anthem of the Western world in many ways.
We know that our inner world is multi-layered. Our physical brain is extraordinarily complex and is divided into three general areas; The frontal lobe, the Perennial lobe, and the occipital lobe. On a neurological level, we can say that the cortex, the prefrontal cortex, and the amygdala are the roots of cognition and formation of intelligence, memory, thoughts, and action.
Who’s leading who?
In Kabbalistic writings, we are taught that there are three parts of our mind, our higher intelligence, called Chochma and Binah, the mindful component of our consciousness, called Da’at, and our emotions.
The ideal healthy flow of consciousness begins with our higher cognition and filters to our emotions. When the mind can transmit its realizations, understandings, and findings to the feelings, the emotions are termed as “mature” emotions.
However, when the emotions play the leading role in cognition, the emotions are called “immature” emotions.
In the 18th Century Chassidic Philosophy book of Tanya, written by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, it is explained that thoughts are essentially “recycled” emotions which the mind has been actively thinking about.
When the emotions of the individual are mature, then the thoughts are mature as well. When the emotions are immature, then the thoughts are immature, taking a life of their own and overtaking the mind in incessant ten uncontrollable thinking.
Stream of the river
Kabbalah compares the often incessant thoughts that are playing in our minds as the torrents of water streams in the river.
How do we control these incessant thoughts and regain control of our minds?
1. You are not your thoughts
The first stage of taking control of our over-active minds is realizing that we are not our thoughts, rather the byproduct of our emotions.
2. Idol thinking
If you are like most people, you check your phone hundreds of times a day and most probably are wasting a lot of time checking out information that has little or no relevance to your life. It is no wonder that so many of us have a problem controlling our thoughts and why so many children (and adults) are now labelled ADHD. When we learn to control our addiction to technology and mindlessly waste our time, then we begin the stage of taking control of our thoughts.
3. Check-in on your emotions
By employing the part of our mind called “the intellectual soul,” or Da’at, we can witness the synergy or lack of synergy from our higher intelligence and communication in our emotional parts of our mind. In effect, we are using the meta-cognitive part of our mind, which is witnessing what is unbiasedly happening inside our inner world.
4. Set the time for meditation and prayer
Research data shows that people who meditate, have rituals, and pray daily are happier, more focused and successful individuals than their peers who do not have these daily practices.
5. Focus on the essential things
By concentrating our intellectual mind on learning and studying elevated and profound subjects, especially Torah learning, our mind becomes synced to a higher intellectual world, thereby shifting the emotional feeling we create.