Watching the Thinking
Thinking is easy. You’re likely doing it right now as you try to read. Thinking is a natural process, and we can think without thinking about it. Asking ourselves, “What am I thinking?” sparks more thinking, and stuck in a thought loop, we wonder where it all began. Asking ourselves questions isn’t how we’ll get answers to understanding our thinking. “Don’t think, Just Play” has sparked many thoughts so far, which is good. Now we have plenty to look at.
A movie projector flips through one picture at a time so fast that they seem connected and move together as if it were happening right now, but the action in that movie is not happening now, and those are pictures on a screen. Your thinking process works the same way, and as our thoughts slow down, this space between thoughts will grow. We can start getting to know our Thinker by exploring these spaces between the thoughts. Take three deep breaths, in through the nose and then out through the mouth. Feel yourself get full of air, then empty completely. The three-breath reset is like turning the computer off and back on again.
A Train of Thoughts
When that first thought comes, don’t engage. Watch it pass like a cloud in the sky and notice the space before the next thought approaches. As you get familiar with watching without judgments and not allowing your emotions to cloud any observations, you will see patterns in this thinking. Moving from memories of the past to future dreams, the train of thoughts rumbles down the track. Are you hungry? Are you sleepy? Does your nose itch? Choo Choo!
These thoughts may seem to come from multiple personalities. Relax, you’re just observing. These are not your thoughts. Remember, you are a scientist studying the Thinker and have put your personality and everything in your life in that suitcase in part one of this blog. You can be objective. If the thoughts talk to you, continue to ignore them. You are a scientist who only likes mashed potatoes and vanilla ice cream. Boring! Wait, We’re lost in thought again. Maybe I’m hungry.
Getting to Know Your Thinker
The Thinker has traits and habits that you can get to know. It likes to plan, organize, and will check, double-check, and triple-check over and over if you let it run. The image of a dog chasing its tail comes to mind. No worries, you can train this dog.
The mind also judges. Thoughts about how things should be done will pop up, and the Thinker gets frustrated at not being heard. Still, you remain a calm observer, merely making mental notes of these thoughts as they pass. Look, there goes another one, and there’s that space between them again. Is that space getting longer?
Hide and Seek with Your Thinker
Fear and doubt may show up as the Thinker gets discovered, and these survival instincts can strongly pull at our attention. Thoughts can ignite feelings from past experiences. The practice of ignoring these feelings will be very beneficial. Besides, It’s not your past. You’re the scientist. Fears picked up from childhood or past performances can form into habitual thinking we want to uncover and release. Once these feelings get a light to shine on them and are known for what they are, the habits of feeling them will lessen. Memories of past concerts or childhood embarrassments don’t leave you, but the emotions that they activate that get in your way subconsciously can now begin to be transmuted into positivity.
Your Thinker may seem hateful and start judging you and others. The scientist remains still watching and learning. You can take a break if needed. Ignore your thinking process and let it run wild. You’re with yourself all the time and can take the time to observe your thinking anytime you want. This is just a mental game, so have fun and play it. It takes focus, energy, and patience. Give yourself a break and have patience with that Thinker. Let a love for yourself build, and the ability to focus your thinking will grow from this self-love.
The Single-Tasking Challenge
Being a multitasker has been seen as an attribute long enough, and it is time for it to fall out of fashion. Focusing on a single thing is a lost art that needs practice to develop. I can practice the art of focusing when I do anything I do. If I am brushing my teeth and my mind wanders to what I must do later that day, I reel in the Thinker by extending the space after that first thought while I stay in the moment and focus on those hard-to-reach places. When I am done brushing, I decide it is time to think about my schedule.
If I am eating, focusing on the taste or texture of the juicy apple in my mouth helps bring me into the moment I am experiencing and let that thought go. If I need to think about something, I stop and think. Coffee has never tasted better when I drink it with all my attention and no judgments. I taste what is, without any ideas, just experience. When answering a question, I stop eating and think about the answer before I let my mouth talk. There’s no need to let my mouth think for me. That never goes well, and talking with your mouth full is impolite.
Getting the Thinker to Work for You
Practice ignoring the Thinker, and you start using your thinking instead of it using you. You’ll gain the ability to limit mental distractions as you perform. At least the ones coming from you, like nerves. In “Fearless and Therefore Powerful,” we learned that we make up all our fear and anxiety. These are mere ideas that identifying the Thinker can help put into a different light. With a fearless attitude as your new habit, you like to perform, and your nervous energy gets labeled excited instead of nervous. It is as “Simple and Easy” as you make it.
Release the ideas that don’t serve you. We can learn to be selective with our thinking, and with training, your Thinker will no longer mind being ignored. It will stay out of the way with practice at being quiet and become a great teammate. Your Thinker wants what you want and wants to be trained. Now that you’ve met the Thinker, you two or three can be friends. You’re all in this thing together.
An Instrumental Unit
The musician and the instrument share a profound and mystical connection. It’s not the mindless tube in the hands of the musician but the fusion of human emotion and the instrument’s resonant voice that creates the magic. It is a beautiful dance of the heart and soul, where the music becomes the musician, and the horn becomes the vessel through which emotions are set free. Your horn has no passion, desire, or intelligence. The horn is mindless, and you are the instrument, and we can treat the body like an empty tube, too. It thinks, but you play. Sing from the heart, and the instrumental unit responds.
There’s a symbiotic relationship between a musician, the body, and the device they play on. The horn and body become an extension of the artist’s soul as the musician’s breath and embouchure shape the sound. Beyond the physicality, there’s an emotional connection. When the body moves without tension, the horn responds to the player’s emotions, creating an intimate relationship between the three.
I Am, Therefore, I Can
Does anyone remember that baggage we packed up a few thoughts ago in part one? Let’s get it out and remember who we were before we met the Thinker. Do you feel lost? Maybe a little different? Having the experience of being nobody can change you, and with a new perspective into your inner workings, it is easier to be yourself. You’ve gained wisdom only you can know. Only you see the world the way that the whole person that makes up who you are sees it. The world is filtered through your senses for your private interpretation. You are not the labels, habits, or people you put away in your suitcase, but the one who’s there when all thoughts have stilled and the voices stop narrating. That person without the suitcase.
This person is fantastic, and it is you. Not the you that you think about but the you that you are without any thoughts. Shake your hand and say hello. Embrace yourself with love. Now, you may go and be an instrument for experience. With your ability to be the thing you are doing and not the instrument doing it, your instrument knows what you want it to do and does it with a flow and style. When body, mind, and instrument are on the same page, they meld into one unit to achieve your desired outcome. If you feel vulnerable or exposed, dive into those feelings with a fearless attitude, and you will begin to see the power you’ve found. Attitude is Everything. Make yours a good one.