When I was young my dad would accuse me of “thinking too much”. Ironically you could argue that I’ve made my living for the last 16 years by thinking!
But what he meant was the sort of ruminative thinking that you just turn over in your head, over and over again. The sort of thinking that he has struggled with all of his life. We all do. Clinging onto some worry, or slight, or threat and attempting to beat it to death with thought.
It is really hard to stop doing this, especially when you’re not aware of it, if you think it’s just the way that things are. But it needn’t be. This is one thing that meditation has taught me. Not all the time, but some of the time, I am able to step back, to notice that I’m stuck in ever decreasing circles, and in the noticing of this its power begins to diminish.
We tend to avoid sitting thinking by making ourselves busy but that can be problem in itself. We can use busyness as a way to run away from ourselves. Especially nowadays when it is all too easy to pick up our phones to stave off “boredom”. In fact many of us have very few moments in the day when we actually stop completely.
Lockdown has given me the opportunity to stop more than usual. It can be a challenge. Echoing my dad I can have “too much time to think”. But as I get better at noticing when my thoughts career out of control, and better at bringing myself back to “just sitting”, the better equipped I feel to deal with life’s inevitable ups and downs.