By Brianna Wiest
Your thoughts create your brain more than your brain creates your thoughts.
The quality of our lives ultimately amounts to how we feel about them, and how we feel about them ultimately amounts to how we think about them. What we don’t realize in this equation is that the thoughts that crop up in our consciousness are not random. They are the product of our upbringing, our friends’ opinions, our personalities, our subconscious biases, our environmental cues, and our habits (synapses that fire together, wire together). Essentially, they are continuing patterns of that which we repeatedly experience and expose ourselves to (whether consciously or not).
Understanding how thoughts are formed and what they’re influenced by is essential to being able to choose them and more or less “re-program” yourself, yet few people really understand why or from where intruding thoughts arise. We could do a neurology lesson here, but understanding that receptors fire off and create a series of impulses likely won’t help you very much, so let’s try a different approach. Here is the traditional concept of mind vs. soul vs. brain, and how all of those things interact and aide in creating your thoughts:
Your mind is the “thinking facility” of your soul.
Your mind is not your brain, and it is not your intellect. It is the part of you that imagines, thinks and forms ideas. It is the basis of all emotions, desires and sensations. It is through the mind that thoughts can be projected to a distant place, past experiences and emotions can be relived or even the future anticipated.
Your intellect is what you use to assess your thoughts.
It is the faculty of understanding and decision-making that guides you. It is absolutely crucial, and must work in balance with your mind. As your intellect broadens, and you gain clearer understanding, you’re able to make better choices, and guide your mind’s desires and impulses all the more. The intellect is that which remembers, discriminates, judges and exercises its power in the form of will.
Your “Sanskaras” are your “impressions,” or the function of your subconscious/unconscious mind.
They are essentially the patterns that have developed as the result of your habits, talents, personality, instincts, beliefs and so on. It is believed that every action creates a sanskar (a beginning of a habit) or reinforces an old one. The sanskaras are the basis of the soul’s individuality.
Where thoughts come from:
Thoughts occur in a cyclical nature, as is shown in the diagram below. A combination of mind, intellect and habitualness that filters and influences how thoughts arise, and when.
For example, a subconscious impression could arise in your conscious mind as a thought, emotion or desire. It would then be processed by the intellect, which would affirm or deny validity, and then would be expressed by an action.
As you can probably infer, there are some things that are impossible to change, some things that are difficult to change, and some that are pretty easy. It’s simple to change what you observe each day, a little more difficult to break yourself out of a pattern of observation, and impossible to change your personality to the point of being interested in observing things you’re inherently not. (Make sense?)
But to gain real peace of mind, you have to “clear the field.” This can be done through meditation or conscious practice, but either way, it’s a matter of simplifying and being aware of all the pieces of the puzzle, so to say. It’s realizing that a memory that’s bringing you fear in the present moment isn’t actually a premonition, it’s teaching yourself to judge people less and perhaps differently, and so on.
It’s not about not thinking at all, but not overthinking – something that’s likely so common because it’s supplementing for the kind of intuitive understanding that we’ve all but lost.