How can we recognize our erratic thought patterns?

As a psychologist and a psychotherapist, I could see that each of us would get our minds into a certain place, our thought processing into a certain place where we would tend to see life, day by day, in a very repetitive fashion, and with a set of habits and thought that we were incapable of breaking through.

Take depression for example… how many of you have known or know somebody who has had depression? What happens when you experience depression? You get up, the sun is shining, but it’s as if there is a haze everywhere. People who love you come towards you and all you feel is a deep sadness, and you realize there’s a place in you that knows that you can say, “Well, today I’m depressed… Today, I’m depressed,” but it doesn’t get you out of the depression.

You have a financial problem on your mind. You’ve done your thinking, and you’ve seen the solution. Now the efficient thing at that point is to turn off the problem and live the next moment with as much beauty and love and openness and compassion as you can, but how many of us are capable of doing that?

You get preoccupied with the problem, and you can’t turn it off. Your mind becomes like a broken record. It just keeps going around and around in the same groove.

You take a physical sickness where you feel ill… you go to the doctor, he treats the illness, you are doing the best you can do for the treatment. Now any further thought you attend to that illness is merely intensifying the illness, because it’s increasing your tension which is making the natural, healing processes of the body more difficult.

All of us carry around with us a heavy pack of personality of who we are and how it all is, how it could be better, and how if we only didn’t have a mole on our left cheek, it would all be beautiful in life, or if we didn’t have financial burden, or if it was all different somehow. We seem completely ineffective to turn it off. We can’t put our consciousness in any different place, and yet you can see how erratic your own thoughts are.

For example, you can be thinking of something very troublesome and be very depressed, let’s use fatigue. You’re very tired and feel heavily fatigued, and then something comes along that you’ve been waiting for that you really wanted to do, and suddenly the fatigue is gone, it’s all gone just like that. You don’t know where it went… it just disappeared. What is that all about? How is it that your mind can be that erratic? And how is it that sometimes it can hold on so tenaciously when you’d like to be able to change it?


-Ram Dass

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