Thought is not reality. However, our personal realities are molded through our thoughts.Sydney Banks
In the introduction to Amanda Jones’ book Uncovery, Dr. Amy Johnson introduces the idea that our thinking is like a river.
Not only is our thinking coming from the inside out, it is flowing energy, always moving, always changing, just like the clouds in the sky.
We humans are a part of nature, so comparing the energy of thought to the natural form of a moving body of water makes perfect sense. When we look at nature, we can see that it is so often in motion. The obvious examples are oceans and rivers. But even when we look at slightly different examples, we see motion. The way any animal, human or otherwise, is constantly changing; growing from a baby into an adult and then aging until death, shedding cells that are constantly being replaced, growing hair and nails continually, digesting food and expelling it.
I love watching the flowers that I plant on my balcony for this reason. They are never the same from one day to the next, always growing and moving. And then, when the days grow shorter and the air becomes chill, the annuals that I planted wither and die, after which they go into the compost, where they continue to change, decaying and transforming into something that will provide life for other plants and animals.
Even mountains are in motion, either being thrust higher into the sky by the movement of the Earth’s plates, or being eroded by the rain and wind that batter them.
Nature is movement. And we are a part of nature. As is our thinking.
Our thinking is a river of thought that is coming to life within us, moment to moment (as Dr. Amy says), never the same from one moment to the next. Sometimes this river is calm and quiet, trickling along, playing music over the rocks and pebbles in its bed. Other times, it is raging, water surging and breaking in frothy, wild torrents.
But no matter what the ‘mood’ of that river of thoughts is, it is always moving. You can count on that 100 percent. Don’t quite believe me? Just try to hold one thought in your mind for the next 10 minutes. If you’ve ever meditated, you’ll know how impossible that is.
This continual, eternal movement is a gift because it means we don’t have to hang on to or make meaning of any one thought in any given moment. Another thought, perhaps a gentler, kinder thought, will be along in the next moment. And the next.
In the introduction to Amanda’s book, Dr. Amy likens our propensity for getting attached to our thoughts to taking a bucket and going to that river that flows through us, dipping the bucket in the river and then walking around all day holding onto that bucket. If we’re lucky, the water in the bucket is clear. But often that is not the case. The buckets of water we sometimes hold on to are full of sticks and mud and leaves and other detritus.
When we see that our thinking changes from moment to moment, that it moves and flows, and that this is true for all humans everywhere, then we understand that we don’t have to be attached to any one thought in any given moment.
Alternatively, what you and I have been doing—innocently—when we have a thought about eating a second bowl of ice cream or a fifth cookie or having that fourth glass of wine is getting attached to that thought and carrying it around with us. Just like that bucket of water I talked about a minute ago.
“What does it say about me that I have that thought?” we ask ourselves. And we answer, “It means I’m weak willed. It means I’m sabotaging myself. It means I’m damaged and broken.”
And then we’re off to the races, wondering why we can’t control ourselves and why the drive to overeat controls our lives.
When instead, all that’s happened is that a leaf has floated down the river. And when we stand on the bank and notice that leaf, we can watch it go by without making it mean anything. Without having to dip our bucket in and pull the leaf out and carry it around in the bucket. It’s just a leaf. In a moment another one might float by. Or a stick. Or a fish. Or a rubber inner tube.
None of those things means anything about who you are.
This is an excerpt from It’s Not About the Food, which is available in ebook, paperback, hardback and audiobook wherever you buy books. You can also ask for it in any of those formats at your local library.