Directed Thinking vs. Compulsive Thinking

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Do you have to think, or do you think to have?

Thinking should be optional. Compulsory thinking is all too common. If your thoughts are non-stop, you are not thinking. Instead, your thoughts are having their way with you.

Your life is an effect of the thoughts that receive the most attention. If the thought process runs incessantly, willy-nilly, it’s easy to feel lost in the physical world, and life feels like something that just happens to you.

When you choose thoughts on purpose and concentrate your attention on those, your life is one of your own choosing, deliberately and strategically created, one thought at a time.

“Strategy is a style of thinking, a conscious and deliberate process, an intensive implementation system, the science of insuring future success.” – Pete Johnson

Unforeseen Benefits of Disciplined Thinking

Do you remember sitting in those uncomfortable desks at school, bored with what was being taught, and wondering how you’d ever use it in the real world? I studied mathematics for a couple of years in college. It came easy for me, but I remember marveling at how I was learning an entirely new language comprised of numbers, symbols and other odd characters that only other mathematicians would recognize or understand.

What was I going to do with all that gobbeldy-gook? Become a teacher? I could have taught it to other students who would also wonder about its practical value in their lives. I know calculus is handy for determining space travel trajectories and geometry is handy for carpentry, but beyond that, much of what I was learning left me feeling, “Cool, so what?”

To balance my checkbook, I really don’t access the theorems of calculus or the formulas of analytical geometry – although I was fascinated to learn a little about sacred geometry. (If you are interested in exploring it more, I wrote a short review of a fascinating book called “Nothing in the Book is True, But It’s Exactly How Things Are” by Bob Frissell. Here’s a link to my Recommended Books page.)

I was able to use trigonometry once to build a cabin in Alaska. It’s base was 23′ square, it was 17′ tall, and was built with the exact same angles and ratios as the Great Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt. I used trig tables for sine, cosine and tangent, but that’s the only time that strange language of advanced mathematics ever intersected my daily life.

Along with a few helpful ideas, I also learned lots of extraneous details in school. Still, the mental training I received and the discipline I learned studying mathematics has helped me every single day in many unforeseen ways.

“Thoughts are energy. And you can make your world or break your world by thinking.” – Susan S. Taylor

Directed Thinking

I learned to think deliberately. I learned how to steer my thoughts and follow-through from A to B, B to C, C to D, and so on. It takes focus, concentration and one-pointed awareness sustained over a period of time. It’s about having an attention span that’s long enough to accomplish complicated tasks.

I took it for granted and assumed everyone thinks this way. In time, I discovered that many of the people I met simply don’t have the mental chops. They have the potential, but instead of deliberate mental training and exercise, many are content with the ever-shortening attention span that results from a steady diet of quick sound bites and the overwhelming video barrage so common on TV. Use it or lose it, and it looks like functional attention spans are lost to many.

“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” – Henry Ford (1863-1947)

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-68)

This skill of directed thinking comes in handy in many of my everyday activities, like writing this article, writing a song, learning to play an instrument, producing a CD or DVD, creating a website, building a house or a studio, or just talking with a friend and logically trouble-shooting a technical problem. In retrospect, I consider this ability of directed thinking to be one of the most valuable skills I have to show for all those years in school. And, it’s a major contributing factor to the ongoing creation of the life of my dreams.

“The secret of living a life of excellence is merely a matter of thinking thoughts of excellence. Really, it’s a matter of programming our minds with the kind of information that will set us free.” – Charles R. Swindoll

“Prosperity is a way of living and thinking, and not just money or things. Poverty is a way of living and thinking, and not just a lack of money or things.” – Eric Butterworth

I Am Thinking — I Am Not the Thoughts

Since I learned early how to pick and choose my thoughts and follow through with a deliberate train of thought, I realized a valuable spiritual principle: Thoughts are transitory — they come and they go. If I am choosing thoughts on purpose, my sense of self, my identity, is beyond the realm of thoughts. “Who I am” is the thinker of the thoughts — the watcher.

“Who is the watcher, who sits in the stillness and knows,
And who is the looker, who notices the king wears no clothes.
Who is the seer, who sees beyond the mind,
And who is the seeker, who’ll find the grand design.”
(From the song, “Who is the Watcher” by Tupelo Kenyon)

Beyond Thought

Spiritual awareness (aka religious experience) is all about going beyond the mind into the realm of pure being. Disciplines and rituals from all cultures through the ages have been used to help take the practitioner beyond the mental realm of thoughts, words and identification with physical things.

“Thinking, understanding, reasoning, willing, call not these Soul! They are its actions, but they are not its essence.” – Akhenaton – Egyptian king (d. c.1354 BC)

Meditation helps to identify and then identify with the being behind the thoughts. Prayer beads, mantras, mandalas and zen koans are all used to transcend the chatter of the typical undisciplined mind. Musicians concentrate on melodies or musical passages, a process which stops the internal string of words which are otherwise forever playing in the mind.

Awareness grows only when the internal dialog is slowed and eventually stopped. Even when the parade of thoughts is curtailed only for brief moments, the awareness of “I am” has a chance to shine through like the sun breaking through the clouds. (See previous article, “Beyond Science, Philosophy and Religion.)

Thinking on Purpose

Once you no longer identify yourself with the stream of thoughts that once dominated your life, you are free to use thoughts deliberately, on purpose, as a tool to help you manifest chosen outcomes. Instead of being blown all over the mental map by every thought that presents itself, you are able to be a thought wrangler.

You can keep them under control, manageable, and keep your life heading in the general direction you choose. When you notice a stray thought going off in another direction, you can redirect it to better support your vision, or you can choose to ignore it altogether and replace it with another thought.

This ability to think deliberately, on purpose, is directly related to your quality of life. Since the Law of Attraction is continuously bringing you the balance of your thoughts, what could be more important than learning to create the life of your dreams, on purpose, by thinking deliberately?

“Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.” – Terry Josephson

Whenever you notice a thought taking you away from your chosen direction, immediately replace it with another that feels better. Your emotions will let you know if a particular thought is working for you or against you. If you feel good, your present thoughts are now helping to manifest the outcome you choose. If you feel bad, your present thoughts are now taking you away from the outcome you choose. (See previous article, “The Law of Attraction.”)

“Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” – Dr. Jonas Salk (b. 1914)

A Tool or a Prison

Your thoughts and the realm of thinking can be a powerful tool if it is recognized as such and used from the broader perspective of who you really are: awareness, consciousness, pure being. Or your thoughts and the realm of thinking can be a prison keeping you in an illusory world of words and things, mental constructs and objects of the senses.

“Awareness is not the same as thought. It lies beyond thinking, although it makes no use of thinking, honoring it’s value and it’s power. Awareness is more like a vessel which can hold and contain our thinking, helping us to see and know our thought as thought rather than getting caught up in them as reality.” – Jon Kabit-Zinn

This world of matter is a marvelous place, an incredible opportunity to experience the grandeur of the universe from within the universe. But, by all indications, we are just passing through.

We emerge from the stillness, the vast sea of emptiness. Compared to eternity, a lifetime is a brief moment, the wink of an eye, and then we return from whence we came. Where is that? Where is eternity? Where is the vast sea of emptiness? Is it everywhere? Is it nowhere? Here’s some interesting wordplay inspired by something Dr. Wayne Dyer said in his live presentation of “The Power of Intention” . . .

First we are nowhere.
Now here.
Then nowhere again.

Now here.

From this broader perspective, it’s folly to identify with the physical world or any of its attributes, including thinking.

“Just like an afternoon that disappears too soon,
Another summer’s day that fades away.
See how it marches on, another year is gone,
No time to dwell upon our fleeting fate.

“How can we wait again another day,
Now that we know how fast they always slip away.
Our little world’s our emphasis, this life is a parenthesis,
A heartbeat in eternity’s highway.”
(From the song, “A Heartbeat in Eternity’s Highway” by Tupelo Kenyon.)

Why not choose the best of both worlds? We are here now, in this world to enjoy and appreciate all that it has to offer. But, we are not of it — we’re just passing through.

The Unified Field That Contains Everything

In a live retreat, I heard Eckheart Tolle say the measure of spiritual maturity is how well you are able to transcend thought. I am paraphrasing, but my sense of his message is that there’s an infinite realm of being that exists as a colossal field. Everything else is included in that field. This is the same unified field that Einstein was trying to reconcile mathematically in the later years of his life. Perhaps “who we really are” is the field itself.

“A human being is part of a whole, called by us the “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest–a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein (1875-1955)

As we live our physical lives, we are individual manifestations of the awareness of the universe, beyond thought, beyond things, beyond phenomenon. We are the silent watcher who sits in the stillness and knows.

“The evolution of consciousness culminates in an all-inclusive consciousness that functions in the context of the infinite and the eternal.” – Phiroz Mehta

When we know that to be true, we are free of the incessant chatter of our internal dialog — our thoughts. The jumping monkey mind still performs its histrionics but we no longer identify with it. It’s not who we are — it’s a tool to be tamed and used purposefully.

We can still think — clearly, deliberately and powerfully whenever we choose.

But we don’t have to!

Thoughts are one of the most powerful forces in the universe. But it’s not who we are. We are much more than that . . . more powerful and much grander than our thoughts can imagine.

While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.

Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.

Related Songs
Who is the Watcher
Explores the silent witness within and the idea that life occurs in this present moment. Always.

A Heartbeat in Eternity’s Highway
In the grand scheme of things, what’s the difference between a single moment and all of eternity? What’s the point of reference?

It’ll Be All Right Now
It’s one thing to understand intellectually that the thoughts we think mold our experience, and another thing to live every moment as if it really is a basic law of nature.

Soul in the Stars
It feels good to try to see the bigger picture once in awhile,and to focus on gratitude for what we have, rather than the frustration of what we are lacking.

A love song to the beloved and/or to the larger part of ourselves.

Within Without
An atom and a solar system is virtually the same thing – mostly empty space! Even quantum physics is still wondering, "Is the universe a great big thing, or a great big thought?"

Same Olde Time
Time – it’s so relative. "What if distant starlight shining in the endless sky is just the same, by a different name, as the twinkle in your eye?"

You Gotta Have Fun
Our moments are fleeting . . . and finite. Too few to squander on "bad news". We must steer our attention deliberately in order to attract the kind of life we were born to live.

Songs by Tupelo

Related Links

Related Articles

Get a Broader Perspective – Do It Different and Work Smarter
When I think of the view from our broader perspective, to me, it means the viewpoint of our inner self . . . who we really are. Without the filters of our ego, the world looks quite different. The problem is . . . this lofty viewpoint seems illusive. People occasionally identify with broader perspective with no apparent effort or intent, but it’s rare to arrive at such a viewpoint accidentally. More commonly, brief glimpses are caught deliberately by intent, and repeated by personal discipline and the use of clever techniques.

Know Thyself – Ignore Comparisons and Be Yourself
The average person is content to base self-knowledge on comparisons to other people. If this is the measure of self-knowledge, it is based on someone else’s standards. This practice misses the point of “Know Thyself.” Instead, it’s all about how to fit in. We are all unique individuals with our own strengths, talents and nudges leading us to embrace our own best life. True knowledge of self is attained from personal insights of looking inwardly rather than outwardly towards others.

Appreciate Here and Now
No matter what’s going on in your life right now, there’s something to appreciate about it. The act of appreciation rivets our consciousness to this present moment. With our attention focused on the here and now, we are living life fully, since right now is the only time there ever is.

How to Live the Life of Your Dreams Through Intuition
Intuition feels good. That should be enough of a clue it’s something that can be trusted. But, our culture has done a thorough job of instilling doubt about the wisdom of following our instincts. Instead, we are taught to think things through and be logical. These mental tools are important, but they were never intended to be used instead of intuition. They work better when used in conjunction with intuition. If we are open to it, we get nudges and insights to move us in the direction of our greatest joys, our most valuable contributions, and our most satisfying life. Those quiet whispers and gentle taps on the shoulder are examples of inner guidance in action – intuition.

Enhance Your Self-Image on Purpose
Here are twelve common sense reminders on how to inspire yourself. The word “inspire” derives from root words that mean “in spirit” or “spirit within.” Although there’s always another step to take, these points are a natural result of recognizing and identifying with this realization of who we really are.

Ego or Soul? Who’s Driving
Even though I identify my sense of self with soul, there seems to be another “something” inside forever jockeying for position and making its presence known. This is the ego. What’s the difference? How can you know which one is in charge? What are their characteristics? Since I prefer peace to mayhem and contentment to perpetual, blind striving, my goal is to keep soul in the driver’s seat as often as possible. Instead of an either/or situation, I like the idea of soul and ego peacefully coexisting in a manner that best serves the greater good.

Inspire Yourself on Purpose – Inspiration from Inside Out
Here are twelve common sense reminders on how to inspire yourself. The word “inspire” derives from root words that mean “in spirit” or “spirit within.” Although there’s always another step to take, these points are a natural result of recognizing and identifying with this realization of who we really are.

Integrity Through Self-Reliance
When you live your life as if the whisperings from your soul really matter, you are living life in your own way, on your own terms, based on your own realizations on what is right . . . what is good . . . and what is true for you. You are tuned into your own station. The signal you are receiving and the message you are broadcasting with the story of your life are both on the same frequency. You are joyfully and gratefully choosing your favorites from the buffet of life.

How Do You Feel – About Inner Guidance?
Is it a hunch? Is it a voice in your head? Is it something you feel? Don’t confuse what you feel with who you are. Once you are able to access this awareness of pure being and identify yourself with it, you won’t get carried away by whatever emotional cloud happens to be passing by. Celebrate life through one of the more subtle forms of communication available to us – inner guidance.

The Law of Attraction
With anything as important as the law of attraction, it’s a good idea to hear it described many times from many different angles. This article looks at it from several viewpoints as well as revealing how to get the understanding of the law of attraction from the prime source. Many links are provided including links to streaming mp3 songs that incorporate the principles of attraction in the lyrics. Celebrate life with an ever-clearer grasp of how the law of attraction determines your life experience.

Beyond Science, Philosophy and Religion
Is truth absolute or relative? Is there anything beyond science, philosophy and religion? Many of the world’s top quantum physicists think there is. Celebrate life by stretching you imagination.

Articles by Tupelo

This is the end of the article entitled Directed Thinking vs. Compulsive Thinking published by Tupelo Kenyon on April 18, 2008 at 7:56 pm | In Awareness, Discipline, Inner Guidance, Integrity, Law of Attraction, Manifestation, Self-Image, Thinking - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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