What is the underlying nature of thinking?

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How well do we understand our thinking minds? We have tens of thousands of thoughts a day. And yet we have very little understanding of thinking in general.

In this post, in a step-by-step fashion, we start with clearly observable facts that lead to insights into the underlying nature of thinking. The content of thoughts. The movement of thinking. And how thinking relates to emotions.

[00:00] Hey guys! It’s Chiggs. It’s another Losing Stress Podcast.

And in this episode, I want to do something a bit different in a way: rather than talk about a poker-specific topic in this episode I’m going to be talking about something very general.

And that is the nature of thinking.

[00:17] Hopefully, the combination of me explaining things clearly, step-by-step and you following it well can hopefully clear up some confusion as well provide some insight into why habitual thinking is limited.

How many thoughts do we have a day?

[00:33] I think the best place to start is with the fact that we have tens of thousands of thoughts every day.

In our regular everyday lives, when we’re doing our regular every day activities, say like brushing our teeth, having a shower we are being absorbed in tens and often hundreds of thoughts.

The content of these thoughts can vary. They can jump from one topic to another. They can be based on what happened yesterday; planning for what you want to be doing for the rest of the day.

What makes up the general content of our thoughts?

[01:02] Actually, it’s a good idea to delve into what actually happens with the content of your thoughts.

As you become aware of your thinking and thoughts. It becomes very obvious that thoughts are a product of influence.

They’re influenced by:

  • what you’ve read recently;
  • who you’ve interacted with;
  • what you’ve seen;

Your recent experiences.

[01:27] And even the stored up memory of events and people and things quite far in the past.  

For example, you might walk down the street and see somebody and think they look like someone that you know.

[01:41] So the content of thoughts (what we’re trying to get at here) is a product of memory. And also knowledge.

For example, when you have an interaction with someone, say over food, sport politics or whatever the part that you contribute is based off your own knowledge.

It’s a looking inside of your memory and a pulling out of what you know. And you express that through language.

[02:10] Now, language is something that I believe that I have only slightly touched upon in a previous podcast. But let’s delve into now because it’s an incredibly useful thing to explore: what language is!

[02:24] Now language is simply a tool to be able to communicate.

However, it’s important to realise the limitations of language. Because the word is never the actual thing.

If you look around you at an object around you, say it’s a glass or a cup, the word ‘glass’ or ‘cup’ is not the actual glass or cup.

Now this is a very simple point. But when you link this back to thinking you really understand how profound this actually is.

[02:58] Because what makes up our thoughts?

Our thoughts are made up by words, images, symbols; as well as sounds and lot less with smells. But in general, it is made up from visual images and language

However, what we’ve simply gone into here is that the word or the symbol is not the actual thing.

The Issue with Habitual Thinking

[03:26] And so when we’re having these tens of thousands of thoughts a day, they’re occurring through predominantly an inner voice. And imagination through visual images.

This is a creating a filter to the experiencing of life.

It is essentially creating an individual filter based off all of the factors of your past, all combined together. All of your conditioning combines together to form a filter of how you experience your life.

[04:01] Habitual thinking builds up a perception. And essentially models for reality.

One of the best examples of this is to see this in your relationships to people. Say with one of your best friends. You have a perception of what they’re like based off all the interactions that you’ve had with them.

So that the next time you actually meet that person, you’re not just meeting them as a new person. You’re meeting them with your own filter and your own perception.

[04:34] And hopefully if you’re following this well you can now see what this is now leading to. That is, from everything that we’ve said (when you put it all together) creates a “I know”.

Or simply a sense of ‘self’.

Living through habitual thinking is essentially living through this centre, which is constantly producing these thoughts; that we’ve explored are based off your own conditioning.

And as such is limited. And not only this, it’s based off things from the past.

[05:13] And the fact is reality is always happening in the moment. So hopefully you can understand that when you’re living through thinking you’re creating this separation from reality.

Because you’re not seeing and experiencing things as they actually are. You’re seeing them from the filter that has been built up from your mind.

[05:34] Now you possibly may have arrived at this and understood the profound nature of this.

Even if you haven’t lets see if we can explore and understand the nature of thoughts even more.

What’s clearly observable is that for most of us, for most of our days we are absorbed in our thoughts.

Thinking, when you become a bit more aware of it, leads you down this storyline. You’ll have a single thought and then you’ll have a reactionary path of thoughts. Thoughts surrounding this certain topic that lead you down and cause you to be absorbed in this story.

A good example of this, is say when you recognise something or someone and that can set off a whole chain reaction of thoughts (afterwards) about that person or about that situation.

Thinking and Emotions

[06:25] And this leads to a good point. In that, thinking or thought within its movement is reactionary.

And this is best observed for when you are feeling emotional.

For example, when you’re feeling angry this can set off this chain reaction of aggressive, violent, negative thoughts all encapsulated in this powerful physiological response in the body.

And it’s these very thoughts that fuel this reaction even further.

[06:58] An angry state is a really quite interesting thing.

Because when you’re really angry or you’re around someone that’s very angry it’s very clear that logical thinking, as a tool for trying to deal with the situation, doesn’t work whatsoever.

In fact, this holds true for any of the labels we have for negative emotional states. Say like jealousy, frustration, annoyance etc.

[07:25] And so what we’re arriving at here is that: not only is thought limited in its content because it’s based off knowledge and your own conditioning, your own culture and the past it’s also limited in its use of solving emotional issues.

[07:43] However, of course, thought does have its use, in other areas. In say, completing tasks, in planning for the future, in doing your work.   

[07:55] And now that you’ve arrived to this point, you might be wondering, living through habitual thinking is limited but what else is there?

And another way of looking at this question is: What is meditation?

[08:10] And this is a topic I recorded a podcast about very recently. I believe it’s the 19th episode of The Losing Stress Podcast. And I do recommend going back and listening to that even if you have done already.

Because it provides an insight that’s all together different to the cultural practice-based, course-based norm.  

Summing Up

[08:31] To sum this up, what we’re getting at here is rather than living life through this habitual thinking mode that creates this perception to reality can we explore the alternative?

That is living life through awareness.

Awareness of this moment. Because it is only this moment that is reality.

[08:52] And adopting this awareness approach to life is something that I want to talk about in the future. Because to be perfectly honest, it’s something that I’m very new to.

And if I do talk about it, I want to be able to talk about it in a way that is clear and intelligent. And doesn’t necessarily lead people down a confused path.

[09:13] On that note, I’m going to leave it there guys.

I hope this podcast episode has been useful.

I’ve talked about thinking. And the whole process of thinking. And may potentially have touched you in a profound way.

Because essentially it is an abandonment of the way you’ve lived your life for the past tens of years.

[09:36] If this feels like a scary thing then I want to leave you with that if we do adopt an awareness approach then this leads to real intelligence.

The intelligence to see things as they actually are.

[09:49] Ok as always, I’ll be on Instagram, I’m @lchiggsl.

Take care! And I’ll speak again soon.