Why can’t I control my intrusive thoughts no matter how much I try?

by | Oct 1, 2019 | Question & Answer

Note: For a quick answer, skip to the end and study the last video. However, I suggest studying this answer as well to gain a path to fuller understanding.

Let’s give an analogy that might help you understand the situation from a wider perspective.

Imagine that you have your arms spread and with one hand in one arm, you are dropping pebbles into a pond. You are looking at the vicinity of the other hand, observing the ripples created by the impact of the pebbles dropped by the first hand. Let’s say, you get carried away and forget completely about the other hand dropping the pebbles. You try to manipulate the ripples, to stop them, but whatever you do, fails.. You place obstacles in front of the ripples, you place covers on top of them, you smash your non-pebble-throwing hand to the pond.. but the ripples keep coming. You really wonder why one day and stop struggling. You just stop doing anything to stop the ripples. You watch them come. By and by, the periphery of your vision widens and you begin to see the arm and the hand that is dropping the pebbles. You realize, it was you who was continuing to drop the pebbles that created the ripples in the first place.

Now, this is a story, to point out that while trying to control our thoughts, when we try to do this from a place where we are identified with them, it will be like the above example where we are forgetting the hand that is dropping the pebbles. We will be in futility working in a narrow locality where the results are observed, while the causes are being created elsewhere.

Then, how can we go beyond this identification? First of all, we must become aware that there is an identification and a state of non-identification. The story above speaks about this, but one must actually do what is suggested: We must stay ‘watchful’/aware without doing anything to observe our inner process. When you stay as awareness this way, you will clearly see the distinction between doing nothing in watchfulness and the identified state. It is the difference between trying to stop the ripples and just watching them with awareness. Also, the idea is not watching just them with a narrow, locked focus. It is watching itself. The ripples will happen, but you are not just aiming to focus on the ripples. You are aiming to watch whatever is arising within you, including the ripples. This is where your awareness starts to expand, and you begin to see the remaining part of your body like told in the story. You begin to see the remaining part of your consciousness. You begin to become aware of where the pebble is being dropped in the first place.

When you become aware of the hand that is dropping the pebbles, you can simply stop dropping them. By staying in awareness of all your inner processes, by and by you become aware of how you are placing your attention and how your creative energy’s flow are related. You also discover the source of where this creative energy is coming from (similar to becoming aware of the hand that drops the pebbles). Then you learn to stop dropping the pebble. You learn to place your attention such that you are no longer empowering thoughts that you have no desire to empower. What happens as a result? Without you doing anything to the ripples directly, they lose their momentum and merge with the water. Without you doing anything to the thoughts directly, they return to silence.

Creating stories on this is tricky, but I feel the above story is good enough to help evolve your understanding. Now, let’s go beyond stories and to the science of this.

Meditation is the practice of staying as this awareness. Meditation practices (especially in the beginning) can sometimes use a focal point also, to help you come out of the identification and recognize the awareness. When you are too much identified with your thought process, withdrawing your attention to a suitable focal point will reduce the energy you are subconsciously channeling into the thought process, thereby reducing the fog you are experiencing that clouds your awareness. The usage of breath as a focal point is an example of this.

Study this article and start practicing to understand what awareness is, and how to stay focused on the focal point and what effects it will result in. peace will be created, you will become aware of your deepest aspect as the awareness. You will simply start to break the creativity paralysis because of the state that your consciousness has narrowly focused and identified with a small part of yourself, in the thinking part of the brain/mind. Sometimes for some people this can be emotions or other energies such as sexuality as well. These are all normal, there are different possible tendencies based on the past experiences of a being.

For a more thorough preparation to meditation, this lengthy article contains also the same path with thorough guidance to help you understand who you truly are, how to begin to become aware of your aspects that will help you awaken more and more to your innate creativity, your innate free state (the awareness), and your innate intelligence (The Higher Self). It will lay out the context, give exercises, lead you to the practice of meditation, provide additional paths to resources that you may need as well as being a very thorough standby guide itself. All these resources have been created by an enlightened person, with beyond cutting edge level of mastery over his mind.

These advice are all suggesting path to build a strong foundation that can help evolve you. The following videos can also help you to understand how to control your mind better. One is about how the mind works. This will help you see the pebble example in a scientific perspective and learn a solid scientific description of how the mind works. You can better understand this video after you have studied the previous articles and videos and have gained some experience with meditation/experienced yourself more as the awareness. The other is about intrusive thoughts and can provide direct information about the subject itself. You may want to watch it sooner. It also offers a broader perspective than my personal answer previous to that. We were building mastery over our own personal energy system until this video, this video takes into account our oneness with entire existence also, providing a perspective that has completely transcended the separation. This perspective will add to our story in this way: The watcher becomes aware of his hand dropping the pebble. He stops dropping it. But still there are some ripples in the water. But these are not made by the body. He realizes that there is more to the ripples even than the hand that he had forgotten about. He realizes that it was the birds, it was the falling leaves, it was the falls, it was the wind. There were so many ripples he was not even aware of in the past. And it was all part of the world. And he was the awareness that contained it all. So, all in all, you will be benefited by growing your awareness, of your own personal mind, body, emotions and then you will be benefited more, by expanding your awareness to enlightenment, to experience your oneness with all things. Then, your personal mind will be quiet, sometimes there may be thoughts from ‘outside’ it, such as explained in video 4, but you will be a master in peace with everything.

A lot of info and material to digest were presented. It can take some time to study. One important thing is, the point where you go beyond conceptual studies and start to practice will be the point where you are actually starting to go beyond your thoughts. Up to this point, you will only be building conceptual understanding, but no progress will be made in controlling your thoughts. Progress is made by practicing, by evolving your understanding as awareness, merging with forms (like the watcher becoming aware of the rest of his body in the pebble example). Be ready for many challenges, but be assured that all the work you put with such right guidance will help you grow.

A note about the writings in this site: I recommend you check these two articles (article 1) (article 2) about the writings on this site if you haven’t already.