2:15 am. It was always 2:15 am.
That’s what the clock read each time I woke up in the middle of the night.
For a long while I struggled with insomnia. No matter what time I went to bed, I would wake up wide awake at 2:15 am. There was no external noise or other environmental stimuli causing the disturbance – just my body deciding to wake up at that time.
And unfortunately, I couldn’t fall back asleep. No amount of relaxing music, meditative practices, warm milk, or boring reading worked.
No matter what I tried, I couldn’t stop my thoughts from running. The thoughts weren’t of a particular nature – I had no conscious worry or anxiety – but they were persistent. The more I tried to “quiet my mind” the more frenetic the thoughts became.
Each exhausted morning I illogically reasoned, “I am so tired, I will definitely sleep much better tonight.” But when it came time for bed, my thoughts took a more diabolical turn: I will undoubtedly wake up again at 2:15 tonight. A self-fulfilling prophecy indeed.
I was addicted to thinking.
I was too young to appreciate the power of thought, but I recognized that I had very little control over the matter. The thoughts kept coming, and my consciousness was tied up in the never-ending flow.
Such is the nature of egoic thinking. Activities from the past, desired future states, random what-if scenarios, and other such assorted thoughts perpetually populate our mental activity. Descartes went as far to correlate existence with thought: I think, therefore I am.
In fact, our thoughts (and only our thoughts) are responsible for our happiness or lack thereof.
It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. (W-pI.190.5)
Nothing except your thoughts can attack you. (W-pI.26.4)
Egoic thinking tells us that our thoughts just happen – often caused by what’s going on in our lives. But that is completely backward. We choose our thoughts (mostly unconsciously), and our worldly experiences subsequently ensue.
Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see. It is with your thoughts, then, that we must work, if your perception of the world is to be changed. (W-pI.23.1)
Join us in Monday’s class where we’ll explore our addiction to thinking, why it occurs, and how we can practice shifting away from such a detrimental thought system to one that leads to pure happiness. I look forward to seeing you then.