Of late, I have become curious about mind and the brain and have been reading about it and also trying to reflect on the working of my own mind. And every time it’s amusing how the mind works.
One thing I have been attempting of late is to ‘catch’ some my thoughts (the compulsive ones). I become aware and observe any thought that’s going on in the mind and then try to trace that thought back to its origin. I failed mostly except on very rare occasions, one of which I am about to describe here. This gives a glimpse of how mind uses associations / connections to form thought trains.
Saturday evening, I was sitting for a meditation session. I was sitting quiet, relaxed and aware, when this sequence of thoughts flashed in my mind. It began when I realized that my spine was not erect and I had to adjust my posture.
This reminded me of one of primary school teachers who used to say “those who sit with bent backs are idiots”
….Next I am driving to my hometown where I meet this teacher on the roadside and I get down to greet him…
….My car is a skoda..
.. white skoda..
….No. It’s a red Sx4
(*Skoda and Sx4 are two car models..)
At this moment I caught this thought train (observed it) and it stopped. All this happened perhaps in a fraction of a second or so (or may be much less than that…). Since I was very aware (I assume), I could trace back to its origin and see how the thought train formed. As I retraced it back, the complexity was really amusing.
Here is a brief description of how it happened.
To begin with, the whole thought train began with a bodily sensation (feeling my back). As I translated that in to a sentence in my head, it connected it with another related thought that ‘a bent back is not good’. This thought immediately formed a match with a sentence in my memory which in turn took me to the teacher who used to say it.
Till this point, it was all textual. Now comes the visual. I roughly knew the place where the teacher used to live. The next thing in the mind was me getting down from the car, to greet my teacher as I passed him.
Now here is a twist. Naturally the thoughts should have gone with me meeting the teacher. But the above visual was bit complex as it also had a car (a white skoda, not the one I drive currently). A few weeks back, I was talking to my wife about buying a bigger car and I told her that may be a skoda is a good option. I didn’t mention white to her, but that was my preference.
So the thought now moved to the car- a white skoda. Immediately there was a new visual – a red Sx4.Recently, as I was driving I happened to follow a red Sx4 and I had a feeling that this was a better car and should perhaps consider this.
Here I caught the thought train and it stopped…
It is amazing how complex such a seemingly simple thought train can be. Mind connects memories, facts, emotions, text and visuals so effortlessly and spontaneously to form one of the millions of thought trains that pass through the brain.
No wonder we believe in God.