Where do Thoughts come from?

This sounds like the kind of children’s question familiar to all parents “Daddy where does the sky come from?“

Sitting and thinking cropped

But I am asking this ‘thought question’ seriously – grown up to grown up!

We take our thoughts for granted most of the time, and why shouldn’t we – after all they are always with us, whether we like them to be – or not! They feel like they are part of us, whether we like them to be – or not! Most of the time, we pay attention to those thoughts – and choose to value them – just because we had them! Our thoughts drive our actions – for better or worse – and we accept (or suffer) their consequences.

 However, thoughts do not exist in a vacuum – they do not just magically appear. They are not formed out of nothingness (it just feels like nothingness!). Most of us are not aware of any kind of ‘machinery’ or process behind our thoughts. We just ‘have’ them.

Neural Couple connection
                          Unseen, unfelt Connections

Stop and reflect for a moment… something must have come before that thought – something must be behind that choice we just made. Things are not quite as simple as they may appear on the surface – though I have to say – I still feel it is magical!

While all of us ‘think thoughts’ constantly – we rarely think about our thoughts – or rather about the process of our thoughts. This impacts, if we did but know it – the quality and clarity of our thinking.

We are aware of the ‘content’ of our thinking (i.e. what we think) but not the processes by which the content is created (i.e. how we think about our thinking); therefore, we value the content automatically without skills for appraising its value.
Christina Marshal (Founder & CEO, Intrinsic Solutions International @ http://isintl.com)

Guy Claxton, a Professor of Learning Sciences in the UK, discusses the newly formed hybrid discipline of cognitive biology in his book Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind. He describes (conscious) ‘thought’ as the culmination of a process that mostly takes place below the level of consciousness (This is the something that comes before that thought we just had, that choice we just made). Here, in this far more mysterious realm of thought, that Professor Claxton refers to as the ‘undermind’, we are not thinking about ‘stuff’ or about ‘how to do stuff’. This is a more contemplative kind of thinking that allows time for the complexities of a decision or a choice to ‘germinate’.

Thought! copy
This is a process that leaves room for your thoughts and values to come into awareness…
…and sometimes awareness arrives in a flash –

Allowing time for these ‘unformed’, germinating thoughts to emerge into consciousness…

“Can accomplish a range of unusual, interesting and important tasks if they are given the time” (Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind, Author’s emphasis)

Not to be too obvious here, but thoughts obviously come from thinking, and I hope you can see from what I have related above, that there are different ways of thinking – and different ways of thinking about your thinking. This is a kind of ‘MetaThinking’.

Some MetaThinking we can achieve with practice, and some we can achieve just by allowing ourselves time to be more receptive to the processes of our thoughts

“Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits”
                                                                         (Winnie the Pooh)

Thinking tree
                                        Just sitting

Simply being aware of these processes will begin to improve the quality of your thinking.

It will, in fact, elicit ‘Best Thinking’.

In my next post I’ll tell you about a very powerful skill you can learn that can change the how of the way you think

QUESTION: If you give yourself time just to sit and allow time to pass – what thoughts will come up for you?

Be part of the conversation – record your thoughts or opinions on this post in the comments box below – or ask a question of your own.
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