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No thought vs getting work done

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No thought vs getting work done
Answer
7/3/15 11:47 PM
Lately in daily life I have times when thought seems to dwindle and I feel very peaceful. During these times, it's very easy to encourage it even more such that I am almost blank in thought.  My mind can even get to where it doesn't really process vision so much, I can see the shapes and colors without having to think about what they represent.  The more this happens, the more of a wonderfully pleasant feeling I get.  During these times, I can just sit and stare blankly and it's very pleasant.  Feels so good I tend to like doing it more and more. 

The main issue is that since this is daily life, sometimes I have work that I probably should be doing and I'm not doing any of it when I am zoned out feeling good.  Especially the more intellectual or computer work, calculating, figuring things out, etc, seems to be incompatible with this no thought thing.  The more intellectual the task, the more it seems to chase off the very good no though type experience.  Busy work that does not need much brainwork seems to be more compatible, say stringing beads or simple sorting tasks seem to be more compatible, but nothing is as compatible as just sitting there zoned out.  Makes me see why some people might want to just sit and zone out all day in a cave, it feels very good!  When these experiences happen, I have a choice to either sink into it and really enjoy the good feeling brainlessness or I can concentrate on work at hand instead which kind of chases off the good feeling, not that I feel bad otherwise, it just doesn't have that special good feeling that comes with the no thought feeling.  Sometimes I can get around the prob a bit by taking care of some busy work that also needs doing, other times, the intellectual work is kinda important at the time.  I also need to be careful when driving, if I let the zone out feeling take over too much, I have a tendency to kind of not think it's important if there might be oncoming traffic or somesuch, it's like I don't fully process the importance of what I am seeing.  Since not thinking feels good, there is a tencency to want to let it take over, but I have to make sure to rein it in a bit if driving.  

Is this a common problem that others deal with?  Is this conflict just a normal drawback of not leading a more simple monklike lifestyle that would require fewer intellectual tasks and more time to space out?  Is this a stage that will pass maybe with better integration in the future?  It's certainly not the problem of the century or anything but I'm a bit curious how others handle it. 
-Eva

RE: No thought vs getting work done
Answer
7/4/15 12:12 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
Eva M Nie:
Hi Eva, 

From my current view, it is like there are two modes, and to be sure, and there are probably mixtures and flavors of the two modes.

When it is time to think and get stuff done, think and get stuff done.

When there is time for the mind to be stilled, let the mind be stilled.

I have no thoughts alot of the time, unless I want to.  And, I really do not see anything visually in the mind anymore, I think I used to be able to.  I still dream, and dreams have the full sensory field, so I know the capacity for visualization is still there,

Driving, I used to go past exits all the time, but since mindfulness training that really never happens anymore, unless a daydream catches me while driving, which is like once in a blue moon.  Mindfulness while driving, paying attention to it all , foot sensations, breathing sensations, cars around sensation, road sight sensation, sound sensation.  But not really any distracting thought sensations.  I guess my suggestion is to learn to keep your head above water, so to speak, one does not want to let the mind get too still while driving, it is inappropriate for the situation.  Of which I am sure you know.

But, I am really happy for you!  For your mind to find some peace in the stillness!  It is good.

There may be more to discuss, but I do not wish to ramble on.

Psi

RE: No thought vs getting work done
Answer
7/4/15 1:25 AM as a reply to Psi.
Psi:

I have no thoughts alot of the time, unless I want to.  
Ok, kinda figured. I can fairly well start intellectual activity on demand (if I want to), but skill setting it aside on demand could improve, I can have some effect, but seems to flag more on it's own, then I decide to let the quiet stay or not. 

And, I really do not see anything visually in the mind anymore, I think I used to be able to.  I still dream, and dreams have the full sensory field, so I know the capacity for visualization is still there,
That's interesting, is that common?  I actually never had conscious visual images in my head for as long as I can remember (at least early childhood). I generally will not remember visual information unless I have specific verbal thoughts about something and then I can remember the verbal thoughts.  Over time, I realized my way of processing was not typical and that most people think more or mostly in images, I've only known a few like me that don't.  That didn't stop me from having tons of useless verbal chatter in my head though, so there was still plenty of baloney in there.  Like you, I do sometimes see vivid imagery during sleep or on the road to sleep. The few times, I've seen visuals in my head during waking seemed like profound and amazing experiences since I don't normally.  The images looked perfectly real just for a second.  Does normal imagery look that detailed and realistic for others?  Sometimes I've asked others what their phenomenological experiences in their head where like but usually they seem like they can't quite figure it out enough to tell me or something, for some reason they can't or don't answer. 
-Eva

RE: No thought vs getting work done
Answer
7/4/15 6:59 AM as a reply to Eva Nie.
I have long periods with no thoughts. What had been an almost constant chatter in my head just went away. Instead of talking there was an inner silence. Especially at the beginning these were often dreamy almost lost in a daze times. And getting the stuff of life done was sometimes just not happening. Making lists and referring to them helped. For driving,  using a GPS when driving even when I knew where I was going helped. Playing verbal audio recordings in the car helped.

There are also times when there was an almost deeper stillness and I was just incredibly focused on what was happening. A meeting, a one on one discussion, enjoying a cup of coffee or a meal or a walk or even working on the computer. Those times had a different feeling than the dreamy ones – hard to describe but perhaps similar to the way that the more obvious pleasure falls away as you go deeper into jhana and what remains is somehow even better.

Now there seems to be more of a spectrum from dreamy daze to incredibly present and still. To shift away from the daze one thing I do is to pay attention, bring concentration to the other sense doorways e.g. really focus on what I am seeing or hearing seems to help take be from the daze to the deeper place. It’s not 100% but it does help. 

The other thing I would suggest is to have a lot patience and kindness with your self and this process. It takes time. It has taken me over a year to really be comfortable with this and where it is going. To realize and sort of prove to myself I actually can function across the breadth of my life without thoughts and that when they show up, as they do at times, well that is fine as well. 

I also found it helpful to find a dharma friend / teacher to talk about this. For me that was and is a critical reality check. I also found others who talk about their experiences with being without thoughts. Listening to them was and is helpful. I found Adyashanti to be extremely helpful and have listend to him a lot, gone to one of his workshops and will go on retreat with him in the fall.  I found Gary Weber to be somewhat less helpful for me, especially at the beginning – probably mostly because I was so disconcerted by something he thought was so wonderful. As I have come more to peace with it, I am appreciating him more.