Thoughts

Thoughts. Where do they come from? Where do they go? And what leads one to another? Why do they keep appearing and dissolving? Why do they never stop? What’s the mechanism producing this constant rising and falling away? It’s not as though we can point to any place in the brain and say, “This is where it all happens!”

Some thoughts rise up out of memories, some appear out of thin air, and others pop into our consciousness in an “aha moment.” When we are solving a problem, we use the power of our brains, in particular, the frontal cortex, to “think.” We analyze, relate, and create. But, what about other times when unorganized and disconnected thoughts tumble into our consciousness? Perhaps we’re just having a cup of coffee and looking at the leaves falling from the tree outside the window. Thoughts come any way. Perhaps at this moment they arise from memories of other trees or other cups of coffee or perhaps not. Thoughts about the dirty dishes left in the sink or a friend who hasn’t returned a text message we sent him may take us far away from the cup of coffee and leaves falling from the tree.

Sometimes a thought appears because we’re on the same wavelength with another person. We pick up information (become entangled with someone) and the thought occurs to us. We saw this example last week when we talked about synchronicity. Suddenly I’m thinking of a friend for no reason. The phone rings. It’s the friend on the line.

Thoughts often have a way of bothering us. We may not want to think particular thoughts but in they come, invited or not. We can be so disturbed by them that we become distressed; we want to run away from them; or we yearn to fall asleep. Sleep may be acceptable at bedtime, but not in the middle of the day. What are we to do? Where’s the on/off switch?

There are no muscles, like those that control our bladders, that turn on and off thoughts. But, we can be with them in such a way that they are there without causing us any distress or interest at all. That’s what we do in meditation. When we focus on the breath, thoughts rise and fall away, but we pay no attention to them. In the beginning, we can nod to each one as it appears by saying, “Thought,” and then return to focusing on the breath. After awhile, we don’t feel the need to make this acknowledgement. We simply allow them to do what they do without showing interest, or interacting, or reacting to them. After a few minutes, the space within us grows bigger; we become calmer and more centered. The thoughts are still there, but they have receded into the background like wallpaper in a room that we’ve become accustomed to. We give them no notice and if asked, “What was that thought?” Well, we have no idea. So, in this way, we turn off thoughts.

Synchronicity

A couple of weeks ago, the topic of my blog was intuition. I talked about how tapping into it is an excellent practice to cultivate helping us make connections, cultivate insight, and invite understanding of ourselves and our world.

Today, I would like to carry the conversation forward and focus on our interconnectedness.

All of us have experienced the coinciding of a thought or feeling with some outside event. These kinds of coincidental connections are meaningful yet they have no cause or effect. A common example described is when out of nowhere we think of a friend or a visual of that friend suddenly pops into our head; then, the phone rings. On the other end is that very friend. This communication, this use of intuitive wisdom, this flow of information is without cause. Nothing has happened other than a feeling, a thought, or a picture rising to our consciousness and, at the same time, the friend calling. And, yet surely this has risen out of some need for meaning or connection.

Carl Jung, the psychoanalyst, coined the term synchronicity to describe this phenomenon, calling it the “acausal connecting principle” linking mind and matter. He believed that such occurrences grow out of some psychic need. Long before Jung, in the ancient traditions, the same principle had been observed and named. The Buddhists, for example, talk about auspicious coincidences in which happenings awaken us to our true selves and world.

Some scientists see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in quantum physics and in the mathematical field of fractal geometry. Physicists have shown experimentally , for example, that if two photons are separated, no matter by how far, a change in one creates a simultaneous change in the other.

These phenomena raise the question whether the separation of things is more apparent than real. Those of us that work with our intuitive intelligence see evidence every day that everything is connected, at all levels, and all we have to do is tap into this flowing, always changing, web of connectedness to receive understanding, clarity, and balance.

Can you remember such a moment in your life where suddenly without cause a thought or felt sense about someone or something rose up in you and that person, thing, or “aha” understanding connected with you? How did that feel? Wondrous? Spacious? Exhilarating? Clear and connected? Calm and yet energized? Probably a mixture, if not all, of these. That’s the power of intuition and synchronicity.

The Intuitive Mind

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. —Albert Einstein

When I was younger, I neglected my intuition. Working hard to make it in what, at that time, was a predominantly male profession, I rebelled at anything with a perceived pejorative label. “That’s just your female intuition,” the subtext of which was, “You’re a woman; you can’t possibly think logically,” was one. I was not alone; women, like me,  everywhere were doing the same.

Meanwhile, men, repelling the notion that anything with a feminine label, like intuition, could be of any use in their experience of the world or fearing that they might be shunned by colleagues friends, and family, also rejected it.

So, in the large, intuition was shunted off to a forgotten corner of experience. But, not by all. Many scientific and artistic types continued to use it to gain insight and reach the breathtaking “aha” of discovery. They, like Einstein, cultivated its use and honed their ability to meld the powers of the rational and analytical with the wisdom of the intuitive. Thank goodness; revelation and discovery continued.

We don’t need to be physicists, mathematicians, or artists, to use our intuition to our benefit. Our intuition is our innate, inner wisdom. It is knowing without knowing why. Using our intuitive knowledge, we can make better decisions, reach deeper understanding, experience our world more richly, heal, and reside more fully in balance.

Some believe that some have it and others don’t. We all have it. Intuition is baked into everyone of us. We can choose to use it or not. We can develop it just like we develop our powers of analysis. Intuition is like a sense; from a stimulus we experience something: a sight, a sound, a taste, a texture, a fragrance.  And, just as our five senses guide and advise us, so does our intuition. Some call intuition the sixth sense.

This week tune into your intuition. Become aware. Be open to its many forms, but don’t get too hung up about it. Here are a few ways we generally experience it without any effort:

  • A gut feeling in the belly about something or someone;
  • A deja vu experience in which you feel you have already witnessed an experience that is happening to you in the moment;
  • Having someone you are thinking about, call you in  just in that instant, and quite possibly saying,”I was just thinking about you;”
  • On meeting someone for the first time, receiving important information about them, their personality or behavior. “Watch out for this person,”  or “Get to know this person;”
  • A feeling, a knowing about something or someone, or some event;
  • Seeing colors, patterns or images that bring understanding or meaning.

Be gentle and open. Don’t try too hard. Intuition comes to us sometimes like a lighting bolt, sometimes like a soft breeze, and fades away just quickly. If you find yourself thinking hard, it’s probably just that, thinking. When intuition happens and you notice,  jot down a few notes. What did it feel like? How did it come to you? What information did it give you? How did you act on that information? At the end of the week, go back to your notes, feeling the intuitive experience again through them.

Have a lovely time getting to know your intuition.