Mind detox: High emotional content associated with thoughts can become toxic.
There’s an estimation that the average person has up to 65,000 thoughts a day. 90 percent of these thoughts are repetitive. Picture yourself sitting in a coffee shop, watching cars pass through the street. Now picture a traffic jam. What if you can eliminate 90 percent of these cars? You’d get a cleaner city and a more efficient transportation system.
Now, compare this to your mind. Would it be so much more freeing if we could get rid of extra thoughts? Rumination (having deep thoughts) is toxic for the mind. We ruminate, dwell on the same thoughts and end up overcrowding our mind. When this rumination contains hostility, it can slowly kill us.
We ruminate because we think these thoughts are ours. We think we’re under control and can decide when they come and go. The reality? These thoughts have huge emotional weight. During sleep, we remove a part of the strong emotional content associated with our thoughts. Good sleeping habits are crucial. Meditation provides the same benefit.
An emotion can be though to as a well-orchestrated physiological reaction, as it lives in the body. Thoughts have effects on the body and transforms us physically. The stronger the thought, the more our body shakes. We think we can stop these thoughts, but thinking is not the problem. The problem lies in the emotion (body transformation) attached to the thought. This is the crux of what makes us believe and react to our thoughts.
Meditation disconnects the emotional content from our thoughts. It allows us to see two distinct phenomena:
- A thought is a thought
- An emotion is an emotion
Putting it all together
These two aspects makes us less reactive to thoughts and allows us to let go. The key is to let go. Stop ruminating. Feel less hostile. The result of reducing emotional content associated with every thought? A less toxic mind.
“Thinking” is not the problem. “Thinking” is caused by each thought. We have to shake the body so much, we react to them and won’t let go. For a mind detox to work, we lessen the emotional content of our thoughts. They will naturally disappear, allowing us to let go and live in a less toxic environment.
About the Author
Pierre Gagnon practised concentration and insight meditation intensively from 2010 to 2012, then went on to study meditation at Wat Suan Mokkh with the venerable Ajahn Po from 2013 to 2015. As well as his own practice, he has coordinated meditation retreats in the south of Thailand which were attended by more than 1,000 people.
Having a great passion in the field of neuroscience, he likes to integrate these concepts into meditation practice. He believes that much of our life is lived resisting and defending against internal and external experiences that people perceive as threats. Through the development of concentration and meditation, we can insightfully see that all experiences are harmless and there is no need to defend of contract around them. Pierre has experience coordinating concentration and insight meditation retreats, teaching the relationship that exists between Buddhism and neuroscience.