If you have reached a point in your life where you want to be rid of the continuous torture of the “thought generating” mind then it’s your good fortune.
Obsessive or consuming thoughts can make living miserable when you are plagued by them, but this very situation can become the invitation to transcend mind and be free of suffering forever.
Can you stop obsessive thoughts? – If you could, it would be great, but the truth is that it’s slightly more complicated than just suppressing your thoughts which at-most you can do for a few seconds. Plus suppressing thoughts is even worse than enduring thoughts. It builds up a lot of negative energy inside.
So how to stop these stops thoughts? The secret to stopping these thoughts is to detach from the mind because You cannot fight mind with the mind. Let’s look at this in more detail.
What Are Thoughts?
Past events get stored as memories. Your mind conditioning and beliefs are also stored as memories. All this is unconscious storage; the mind does all this in auto mode.
Perceptions and interpretations are created in the mind based on its past “external” conditioning and also its natural conditioning (genetics). These interpretations, perceptions and judgments come up as thoughts in the mind, and they can be positive or negative depending on the mind’s conditioning.
Thoughts are generated based on the past incidents/memories, future projections and interpretations on the present life situation. It’s like a computer trying to predict or conjure up projection based on the data it has collected so far.
When thoughts are negative in nature (thoughts of worry, anxiety, stress, lack, resentment, guilt etc.) they produce resistance to the movement of your life, and this resistance is felt as suffering. Negative thoughts will always stand in resistance to the movement of your life, like blocks of stone in the midst of a swift current of water.
Life is a stream of pure positive energy and hence any negative thought will stand in opposition to it, causing friction which is felt as suffering in the body.
How Are Thoughts Generated?
Do you generate your thoughts?
If you generated the thoughts, you could’ve controlled them too.
The truth is that you don’t generate thoughts, the mind does. And the mind is in auto-mode (subconscious mode) most of the time.
You can see this for yourself; can you predict what you will think 30 seconds from now? If you can’t how can you assume that you are generating the thoughts?
If you believe that you are your mind, that’s a false notion again.
If you are your mind then how can you observe the thoughts? So you must be separate from the mind to see what the mind is doing.
The mind generates thoughts, which are mostly just energy forms. These thoughts pass through like clouds. We identify with some of these thoughts and obsess over them.
So in truth, all thoughts are just neutral energy forms; it’s your interest or association with the thoughts that makes them obsessive. If you can understand this truth, you have taken the first step towards getting rid of obsessive thoughts.
What Gives Power to a Thought?
The thoughts in your mind gain power from your attention and interest. Your attention is the fuel for your mind. So when you give attention to consuming thoughts in the mind, you are unconsciously fueling it and thus attracting more momentum for these negative thoughts.
The momentum of negative thoughts in your mind will slow down, and ebb away, automatically when you stop feeding your attention to it. Stay as an open space of awareness without focusing your attention on the negative thoughts of the mind, and soon they will lose their momentum.
You can focus on the positive thoughts generated in the mind, and thus develop a positive momentum in your mind. Every time your mind produces some positive thoughts, e.g thoughts of love, joy, excitement, abundance, beauty, appreciation, passion, peace etc, focus on it, milk it, and give attention to it.
This will cause your mind to attract more positive thoughts and thus build a positive momentum.
Whenever the mind thinks negatively, don’t give it attention or interest, this will cause the ebbing away of the momentum of negative thinking. It’s really that simple. Once you understand the mechanics of how thoughts gain momentum in the mind, you will be in total control of your state of being.
How to Stop Obsessive Negative Thoughts?
If you are asking this question, ask yourself another question – “is this question not another thought? It’s a thought about killing thoughts”.
All your attempts at suppressing and stopping thoughts fail because you are using the mind to stop the mind. The police man and thief are both the mind; so how can the police man catch the thief?
So you cannot kill the mind by force. The mind dies its own death by the poison of disassociation.
What gives power to a thought? – Your interest. If you have no interest in a particular thought then it loses its hold over you.
You can try this out now.
Let the thoughts flow through your mind but don’t take interest in them. Just stay as a bystander or a watcher and let the thoughts float.
Initially you might have a hard time watching thoughts because of your inherent habit of associating with each thought that arises.
It helps to know that you are not your thoughts, that thoughts are just energy forms created in the mind. Why does the mind create thoughts? No one knows – it’s just something it does, why bother. Do you ever ask why does the heart beat?
With a little practice you will get really good at watching thoughts and not involving yourself with them.
You will stop giving power to thoughts by not giving them your interest. Thoughts die immediately when they are deprived of this fuel of interest. If you don’t associate with the thought or give power to the thought, it will wither away quickly.
1.) The Practice of Watching the Mind
All you need to do to get rid of obsessive thoughts is to watch the mind without getting involved.
You will get really good at this with just a little practice. This practice, or “sadhana” as called in Hindu scriptures, is the root of awakening from the illusion of mind.
Without trying to understand this practice just implement it. The more you try to understand the more mind gets involved. Just watch the mind and you will soon see that you are not the mind at all.
That the mind is like a machine in your head that generates thoughts based on your attention/interest. Be free of your mind by depriving it of your interest. This is the only direct path of becoming free of the mind.
2.) One Point Focus Technique
If you find the above concept difficult to understand then try this simpler technique. This one is called ‘One point focus’ and it involves focusing all your attention on a single point for an extended period of time.
This technique done over a few days will help you gain considerable mastery over your mind.
Here’s how this works:
Sit in a comfortable place, preferably during the night hours when there is less noise/distraction. Close your eyes. Now divert your attention from your thoughts on to your breathing.
Feel the cool air hitting the base of your nostrils and the hot air coming out. Try and see how long you are able to maintain this focus. If you are a beginner, you will not be able to maintain focus for more than a few seconds. Say 5 seconds at the max. You will find your attention return back to your thoughts.
Fear not, this is natural. Do not blame yourself. As soon as you realize that your attention has gone back to your thoughts, gently bring your attention back to your breath. Do this for a few minutes. When you are able to keep the focus on your breath for a period of 4 to 5 minutes, you have started to gain mastery over your mind.
You will have mastery over your attention and can divert it from your thoughts, to your breathing whenever you want to. That means you no longer have to be afraid of intrusive thoughts, you are completely free from their grasp.
As you master this, you can also consider some other forms of focus as follows:
- Chant the mantra ‘OM’ and focus all your attention on the OM sound.
- Count mala beads with your fingers and focus you attention on the beads and the counting.
- Focus on your heart beats.
- Listen to binaural beats or healing frequencies like the 528Hz frequency and focus on the sound.
- Focus you attention on an external sound, like for instance, the sound of crickets during the night.
- Focus you attention on a blank wall or canvas.
3.) Visualize The Thought As An Energy Form
Here’s yet another technique that you can use. This one is very simple.
Have you ever watched a movie in a theater? If so, you would have realized that the theater uses a projector to project light beams on a blank screen. These light beams reflect back to us after hitting the screen creating images.
When your mind generates a thought, it also generates accompanying images. These images play in your head just like the images projected on a screen in a theater.
But we all know that the images on the screen are just rays of light that get reflected after hitting the screen. Now imagine if instead of watching the screen, you turn back and watch the projector instead. You immediately realize that the images on the screen are merely light rays generated by the projector.
In a similar way, visualize your thoughts as energy forms (electrical signals) running inside your brain’s neural pathways. Give these energy forms some color and visualize them as temporary rays of light that will be discarded by your brain unless you decide to give your attention to them.
Whenever you have a negative thought, think of this thought as an energy form instead of focusing on the images generated by the thought. This way you will deprive the thought of its power and it will go away.