“Now be perfectly still as before, but inhibit all thought. This will give you control over all thoughts of care, worry, and fear, and will enable you to entertain only the kind of thoughts you desire.”
Okay. No thinking. I can do that. How hard can it be?
Inhibit all thought. Drat, I should have taken off my shoes. The edges of the soles are not comfortable. Stop. Inhibit all thought. Owwwwww, there’s a metal sliver digging into my kneeeeeeee. Stop it! No thinking. Silence. The sound of birds chirping. Firefly, meowing and pawing at the door. Go away, kitten… “Pen-pineapple-apple-pen, i have a pen, i have an apple…”
Blast it. Thanks a lot, Becky, now I have an earworm.
Okay, comfortable clothes, comfortably seated, start the timer and… No thinking. Heartbeat. Breathing. Silence, peace. Oh, how lovely… Wait. Was that a thought? Crap! Even if it wasn’t, that was! Well, I’ll be all right if I just don’t… “apple pen, pineapple pen, ahhhhh! Pen-pineapple-apple-pen…”
Okay, so, it’s obvious what the exercise is intended to do, right? I mean, our world without is created by our world within, and the world within is controlled by our thought, specifically the habits of thought within our subconscious mind. But until we can control the thoughts that get in, our subconscious is going to be contaminated by all the stray bits we’ve allowed in while we weren’t watching.
Is hearing the sound of birds, and dry leaves rattling in the breeze a thought? Is is thinking, to focus on breathing and feeling the rhythm of a heartbeat? What about hearing music – not lyrics, but only music – inside your head? Is that thinking?
Google defines thought as being “an idea or opinion produced by thinking or occurring suddenly in the mind” and has a second definition of “the action or process of thinking.” Which is… not helpful at all, really.
What is a thought? And how does it differ from awareness?