Early Experiences of Thoughts Stopping

James, modified 5 Months ago.

Early Experiences of Thoughts Stopping

Posts: 5 Join Date: 9/7/20 Recent Posts
In my very early days of practice,  I didn't really have any training and I had read some of the Carlos Castaneda books.  They mention heavily how terrible the inner dialogue is and would invest a lot of time in trying to cultivate "inner silence" by attempting to stop it.  In one book they  mentioned something along the lines of "the inner dialogue if you try to stop it long enough it will eventually get frustrated and give up".  

I took this at face value and would attempt to try and stop my inner dialgue by usually doing a combination of "looking at everything at once" (one technique they mentioned in the book)  and maybe a mantra (which was usually just numbers).  I would describe it as a battle and a struggle, but I would eventually reach these very distinct points, where suddenly the dialogue would give up, or at least slow to a crawl. (my awareness wasn't as strong so I suspect there were still a lot of subtle thoughts and sensations happening)  It felt like I had reached the point where the inner dialogue had got "frustrated and gave up", at least for a little while.   It was a very abrupt and dramatic shift.   And I would feel in a very different state of mind.  Like suddenly things were much calmer, intuition was stronger and there was a big sense of relief.  It was very distinct.  I would also often feel "rebooted".  After the shift happened, I would no longer have to keep concentrating for the effects to last, the dialogue would be very slow / minimal for about 20 - 30 mins after on it's own.   

My practice was very intermittent and as time went on I rarely if ever reached those abrupt shifts anymore.   I maybe did it only a dozen times total. And I wasn't always successful when I tried it.  It felt like maybe I was forcing things too much and being too attached to the outcome.  Over time my practice shifted more towards a standard concentration, metta and body scanning approach after getting more knowledge of common do's and don'ts.  I found out that you're not supposed to really try to stop the inner dialogue, or that you can't.  No other practice I've tried has created those shifts, and I've tried to go back to what I was doing originally and they don't seem to work anymore. 

But that makes me wonder what was I experiencing early on? What was causing those shifts?  I haven't heard any other system really describe anything similar.  Was it maybe intent and belief?  I didn't know any better so maybe I did cause a state to appear that I thought was a real thing by just believing in it?   
Brian, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Early Experiences of Thoughts Stopping

Posts: 93 Join Date: 1/21/19 Recent Posts
Isn't that what is meant by noble silence? Not just not talking, but entering mental states where inner dialogue stops. It's mentioned that it will happen in the book I favor, The Path to Nibbana.
agnostic, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Early Experiences of Thoughts Stopping

Posts: 1222 Join Date: 2/26/19 Recent Posts
Your early experience was 100% valid - it's a big relief when the mind calms down. Back then you had a "beginner's mind" and weren't too worried about the results. Now you're feeling frustrated because as you say you've become attached to the outcome, whereas the outcome is the result of letting go. I would recommend Ajahn Brahm's book Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond.
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Chris Marti, modified 5 Months ago.

RE: Early Experiences of Thoughts Stopping

Posts: 3759 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
 It felt like maybe I was forcing things too much and being too attached to the outcome.

That's the right diagnosis, IMHO. Good insight!

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