What Thoughts Mean
I asked my boyfriend what he meant when he said he was afraid of the roller coaster. He said “well, you are afraid it is going to break and you will die.”
That’s definitely not what I was afraid of. When I was strapped into my seat, I searched my mind for articulations of the physical fear I felt and there was nothing. Just visceral stress.
I asked him “do you think you had that thought and then felt fear or felt the fear physically and then explained it that way?” He said he didn’t know. I suspect it was the latter.
People like to say “don’t believe everything you think.” The thoughts you have may or may not give accurate accounts. Our minds want to explain or make sense of experiences. We create stories about what we feel and what is going on in our bodies.
This is important in intuitive practice. Intuition forms into clear insight on its own terms. When the mind jumps in and interprets or tries to make meaning it rarely leads to useful or accurate insight.
But intuitive practice also requires we take our thoughts seriously. They may not mean what they seem to mean, but the mean something. Intuitive practice would have us notice everything that comes into our consciousness and assume it has significance, but not assume that the statements are true on face value.
Once, before a reading, I experienced a stream of negative thoughts about my body so intense that I started to think that nothing could ever feel more important than body image. I imagined people in dire life circumstances and thought, “still they must be worried mostly about how they look.” This was an unfamiliar sequence of thoughts for me. However, by noticing it I identified a pattern of thought that turned out to be relevant to the reading I was about to do.
If I’d believed the thoughts on face value, it would have gotten me nowhere. But it would also have been a mistake to ignore them.
When people say “don’t believe everything you think” I often feel uncomfortable. It’s so close to suggesting we dismiss inner experience. Even when thoughts don’t make sense they often contain information if we allow their significance to reveal itself on its own terms.