Monday, February 19, 2018

Thoughts Think Themselves so Direct Them While You 'Sleep on It'

If you meditate in a sangha and have group discussions afterward, you've might have heard the phrase, "thoughts think themselves."  What this refers to is that our brain wants to be "on" all the time and will initiate thoughts, some true and some untrue.  Fabricated thoughts are ones in which our brain takes information and thrusts it in an unsubstantiated direction.  For example, we might wear an outfit during the day, clean it that night, and wear it again the next day because we are going somewhere different.  If we coincidentally see the same person both days, our brain might give us a thought like this one:  "she thinks I don't wash my clothes" or "she thinks I wear dirty clothes."  The brain just came up with a thought that isn't what you think at all.  In this case, your logical thinking tells you, "I don't know what this person thinks unless they tell me what they think."

I've mentioned before that meditation helps us to recognize these aberrant thoughts, but it's not really my focus here.  Today I am writing about using the brain to our advantage.  In other words, if our brain thinks thoughts that we don't control, why not set it in motion.  Give our brain some fodder and have it work while we are sleeping.

For example, before you want to accomplish something specific, give your brain an opportunity to do the work while you are sleeping.  Here's one example of how I take advantage of this:  I utilize the gratitude lists written in my journal to create poetry, looking at the list during the day, sleeping on it, and then writing the poem the next day.  For example, on Monday, May 20, 2013 I wrote this gratitude list for what happened the day before:  zero guilt about not going to church, up early to read, good book about bird behaviors, the author of that book, encouragers, publishers, book store, comfy sofa, comforter, blankets, pillows, touch, enough food in the house, lazy day, gray, rainy day, God in my life, God in my pantry, call from Patrick, decision making skills, etc.  In 2017, I found this list in my 2013 journal with the expectation that I would write a poem.  I read the list and then set it aside to sleep on it and write it the next day.  Here's the poem I wrote:
The call to rise
is stalled by the gray clouds
which hold me in place.

The laze of Sunday
lasts even longer
when it's raining.

I get up to sit back down,
greeting my spot on the sofa.
It hugs me back.

I've asked for a simpler life.
It's come.

A recipe in a magazine 
sounds delish.
All the ingredients are on hand, 
dinner is planned.

The magazine was first,
but now I curl around a book
about bird behaviors,
thankful for the keen eyes
of its author.

My eyes break from the page
because my  phone rings.
I assume an even more relaxed posture.

Crossing my legs on the coffee table,
anxious to hear about the space
between the last call and today.

© Marie Higgins, page 135 Sprouting Spiritual Growth
The point is, use your brain muscle while you are sleeping, it's the easiest way to get things accomplished!
Now for the reflective questions which you can journal about or if you'd like to share your story, the community and I would love to hear from you!  Your comment could have a major impact on someone else.  Most likely it will be just the right thing at the right time for one of the readers. For me, God* wanted me to know that helping even just one person is wonderfully impactful.

Reflective questions:
1.  What can you give your brain to do tonight while you are sleeping?

2.  What does God* want you to know about this (ask directly, "God, what do you want me to know?")

* I use the term God as a universal term.  You may decide that Great Spirit, Allah, Higher Power, Sensibility, etc. better suits you today.  It is not for me to decide.

Photo by MH

Note:  These posts are part of a broader call to do spiritual journaling which is simply journaling what's on your heart and mind and then asking God* what else you should know (read more at

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