Compulsive thought loops are so pervasive that we believe they are a normal part of being human.
While they are common, they are definitely not normal. The great news is that you can do something about it. That is such a simple statement, yet so potent.
It’s vanishingly rare to know anyone who is not completely infiltrated by thought loop programming. If you’ve never known anyone who wasn’t blind in their right eye, for instance, it would be understandable for you to assume that humans can only ever see out of the left eye. You might assume the right eye is some kind of useless vestigal organ. You wouldn’t know what depth perception was, or how useful it could be.
If half of the population wasn’t controlled by thought loops, we’d all know at least a few people who were in command of their own mind/body vehicles. We would have something to compare our own experience against, and we could see how destructive and abnormal our condition was. Instead, we have a mental health dogma that tells us that being infested by thought loops is totally fine, unless they lead you to become dangerous, unproductive or socially unsightly.
The other impediment we face is that we may hear about individuals who are in command of their mind/body, but they are “spiritual” characters. They have gone through some rare and exceptional experience. They were struck by lightning. They died and came back to life. They experienced enlightenment. Or, they took a life path that is so divergent, as to make it utterly exotic. They live in an ashram, they own nothing, they sleep on a bed of nails, they live alone in a hut in the Thai jungle as a hermit. These examples cause us to mythologize what should be the natural state of every human. Instead, we’re left with the impression that freedom from thought loops and the emotional stress they induce is for people of exceptional, near mythological spiritual attainment.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Though loops are very simple, primitive programs. They rely on a mechanical process and can be recognized and interrupted. Deconditioning yourself isn’t complicated, nor does it rely on arcane knowledge. While it’s not complex, it’s also not easy. It’s not something you can just do on retreat or in a weekend workshop and be “cured”. It is something you have to do so consistently and so diligently, every single day…that most people are just too lazy to actually take this path. It’s not flashy, and after the initial novelty wears off, it’s quite boring.
That’s the big advantage that the program has over you. Exercising sovereignty over your own mind is like a muscle you’ve never used. At first, the slightest exertion of will seems like a Herculean effort. That poor little muscle gets tired and achy and sore, and all you want to do is just go back to autopilot. You can’t imagine having to work that hard every minute of the rest of your life. People don’t make it past this initial trial. Once you get stronger and more limber, it’s not that much work, and you are thus able to gain more ground with less effort. Eventually, it is nearly effortless, and just becomes a way of life.
Long before I was enlightened, people remarked on how “self possessed” I was. That is an incredibly apt description. I was in possession of myself, which is such an unusual thing that people notice it, and often simultaneously admire it and feel uncomfortable around it.
If you are not in possession of yourself, something else is.
image: taken in New Orleans