One of my clients Naveen, a Software Engineer in India has been doing well and happy as a software Engineer in a multinational company. In spite of this, he has been reporting that when he compares his financial strength with some of his relatives and colleagues in a better position, he is overcome by an intense feeling of inferiority. This has been a chronic problem happening even when the other person says nothing. He tends to avoid coming into contact with such people. This feeling arises spontaneously and severely disturbs his mind and body, sometimes affecting even his virility. He takes a long time to recover his healthy mental state. He gets trapped in this negative state frequently and it may arise anywhere – home, work, among relatives or in community. In spite of reading all my mind related articles repeatedly, he has not been able to overcome this major handicap (1). I wondered for a long time “Naveen gets countless thoughts in a day and none of them makes such a major impact. Why does this single thought impact heavily on his mind and and body and keep recurring?” His problem prompted me to come up with this article comparing thoughts with tuning forks. Read on –
We get thousands of thoughts in a day. Barring exceptions, we experience them as distractions from whatever we may be focusing on, at the moment. Hardly any of them lingers and bothers us. But some thoughts resonate with us intensely and create severe negative reactions – mental, physical or both. What could be the reason? Let us take a clue from our middle school experiments with tuning forks.
You might have done experiments with tuning forks in the Physics lab at your school. I remember mine. We had sets of tuning forks of different natural frequencies in wooden cases. We took them and placed them standing them in wooden holders with the forks pointing up. To test the theory of ‘Resonance’ my classmate placed his set of forks at one corner of the lab and I placed only one fork at the far corner of the lab.
My classmate tapped on his set of forks, one fork at a time with a small wooden mallet. I was watching my single fork at the other corner. My fork did not show any response when he tapped several forks at his corner. But when he tapped one particular fork, my fork instantly responded by vibrating visibly. When I took my responsive fork to him and compared its natural frequency with the fork he just tapped, we found they had the same natural frequency. Let us now transfer this concept to thoughts – neutral and disturbing thoughts.
During about 16 hours that we are awake, we get thousands of thoughts, the highest estimate being 70000! (2). How many of those thoughts are we even aware of? Like tiny sparks from a sparkler, they appear and disappear. But, some thoughts are immediately noticed by us and cause huge discomfort. We try to push them away. They are like some exceptional sparks that fall on the skin and sting. Such stinging thoughts grab our attention and drain or energy. How do they become so overpowering? What is special about them? They are like my tuning fork which resonated with a particular fork my friend tapped but did not respond to any of the other forks. They exist deep in our minds when we bury some unpleasant beliefs and feelings arising our experiences which we could not place in proper perspective. The exceptional thoughts that disturb us may be triggered by a scene, word or behavior of a person, resonate with our buried beliefs and feelings and shake our minds and bodies. What can we do? We can use such occurrences as messengers pointing at the buried stuff. Then we have to work on them using effective techniques. They will lose their power and pass through our minds without significant impact.
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Parent page: Thoughts are like …. (10 different ways of looking at thoughts)