A life thinking all the time is, at a minimum, no fun. At worst, a life of constant thought is a source of stress, which can be the origin of all kinds of physical and emotional problems. We may think it is normal for our minds to be continually busy but it is not "normal," natural, or necessary. Constantly thinking is like having a constant filter between us and the sunshine of life. We experience life through, in between, and over our thoughts. This shuts out the true light. We miss the direct experience. Living life through our thoughts is life in shades of gray. We are missing the brilliant colors, the passionate, vibrating sounds, touch, smell of life's incredible nakedness and beauty. We are missing the heart of awareness. Thinking 99 percent of the time, we are missing 99 percent of the heart of life. We are missing the unfiltered joy!
Constantly thinking leads to an exaggerated sense of self, inflated self-importance. Constantly thinking leads to what I call hypochondria of the personality. In the modern world we are overly preoccupied with being comfortable. We are overly involved in how we look, what we are going to eat, and what everyone is doing. We are overly stimulated by all kinds of media. All of this results in an overly-crowded personality. Western personality is overweight, bloated out of proportion. Our likes and dislikes are way too big. Our worries are out of control. As soon as one worry is satisfied, another is quickly found. Obsessive thinking leads to a swollen mind. The main effect of a swollen mind is a life that is overly busy. We cannot sit still without doing something. The primary symptoms are feelings of anxiety, depression, fatigue, neediness. People who are obsessively thinking often have a dark sense of the world. Everyday conversation is full of the latest bad news. With dark thinking, relationships, work, and virtually every part of life are affected.
Developmentally, because of too much mental input beginning at too early an age, we suffer the stress of constant mental activity. Small infants are overly encouraged to crawl, walk, develop language, read, even begin math skills. The list of desired skills from modern parents for their newborn starts way too early and is off the charts in importance. Infants at an early age are already developed! They are beautiful as they are. Infants and small children are perfect, being in their soft heart, present, open, feeling and knowing the world around them. They live from their source, their well of being, their gentle vulnerability. The early emphasis to develop mental skills separates them from the direct experience of life. The stress on having early verbal skills overrides their awareness of feeling. It buries their heart under the demands of the adults around them. Too much mental activity affects early behavior and continues its effect for the rest of their lives. Growing up in our mentally-overstimulated world leads to suffering and a distorted sense of reality. Most people are not aware of how overcrowded their mind is. They live plugged into media but, more important, they are plugged into their congested self. We are not aware!
Often when people hear infants are suffering from too many mental demands, they go to the opposite extreme, thinking there should be no demands at all. This also is not appropriate. What we are talking about is parents' desire to get their children into the best college beginning at age 2! What we are talking about is giving infants gadgets to keep them occupied, gadgets to engage mental activities instead of being held and allowed just to be. Children ages 1, 2, 3, or 4 want to naturally explore the world around them. Children should have times of deep inner peace in addition to the joy of play. If they don't, you can be sure there are too many mental demands, too much mental activity in their lives.
But stop! There is a cure. Our swollen minds bloated with judgments, self -criticism, compulsive attachments and desires do not have to rule our life. We can shrink our personality to a normal size. We can have a personality that is not flooded with thought. Our mind does not have to be so crowded that our feelings are lost, unknown, and our joy barely existent.
Most cures we try simply do not work. In my opinion, most therapy, many meditations, medications, and other current remedies stir up, reorder, or dull mental activity. They typically do not lessen compulsive thinking, only change or redirect thoughts into another way of thinking. What's called for is heartfulness, silence, and retreat. We quiet the mind by building the heart. This includes a daily life of giving, play, forgiveness, gratitude. This means developing a life of joy. What changes an overly-active mental life is a life of heartfulness. Anything and everything we do for our heart is a beginning in making our life fuller of something other than thought. There is much more to life than thinking 24/7.
Heartfulness is a way of life. It is growing joy. Heartfulness is a meditation where awareness rests in the gentleness of the heart. Silence is having time of peace and quiet. It is finding inner stillness. In the silence of the heart, our mind rests and our well of being, our soul comes forward. To heal our runaway, busy self we need time for no self, time for retreat. In retreat it is not what we are doing but the heartfulness, silence, and simply being in life's beauty that are important.
The lack of joy in too many children is seen in most of our adult problems. Heartfulness, silence, retreat and we begin again. The source of trust is inside of us. Our well of inner peace is found again as we reclaim and celebrate our awareness naturally open, soft, generous, and free. It's time to bring our runaway, busy mind home again!
We invite you to join us in a retreat in heartfulness and silence at Silent Stay in Napa, California and Assisi, Italy
For more by Bruce Davis, Ph.D., click here.
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