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Monday, February 25, 2013

Intervening Thoughts

Thoughts that come into your head and not really necessary are called "intervening" thoughts. Intervening thoughts are most active before you go to sleep and after waking up.  When your body is not moving, the mind is energized by the flow of energy from the resting body.  These random intervening thoughts appear with greater frequency when energy ignites billions of neurons that have been inactive during the day.  You may have thoughts about things that need to be done, people you should call, conversations you have had or will have, what you should have done, what you should have said, and so on.

You might lie down to go to sleep and suddenly have a thought that you need to call someone not realizing it's 11:00 at night.  Or, you might have a "brilliant" idea about how to cook a great souffle and you feel like you should get up and write down the recipe.  You start thinking about an argument you had with your best friend and begin having a conversation with her as though she was present. There are so many thoughts that could be labeled as "intervening" it would take a book to mention them all.

Intervening thoughts can not only come while resting but also as dreams and while you are fully awake and active. Thoughts that are not intervening are those that have to do with maintaining life and survival.  Thoughts of being thirsty, hungry, seeking shelter, love, and problem solving are all rational, non-intervening.  Intervening thoughts are not necessary for survival.

You can't stop intervening thoughts - they are automatic and we all have them.  What you can do is learn to recognize them and simply let them be.  In other words, rest in their presence.  When you have a thought at an inopportune time, like when lying in bed, take a moment and ask yourself if it is absolutely necessary to be thinking this way.  If the thought is not really necessary, it's an intervening thought.

When you recognize the intervening thought immediately focus on your breathing and begin counting your breaths.  As you inhale concentrate fully on the air coming in your nose and down into your lungs. Feel your chest moving and your ribs expanding.  As you exhale count and visualize the number as though it is coming out of your body.  You can visualize the number in color if you like.

Take the breaths slowly and deliberately counting from 1 to 10.  If a thought appears before you get to 10, start over.  If you reach 10, begin with 1 again. Soon the intervening thoughts will disappear and you can go back to what you were doing with peace and without interruption.

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