Thought control


Joined Apr 2, 2020
@strantor, you're not going to like hearing this but, the description of your mind's lack of focus is much like mine was when I was in my late 30s. I discovered I was sleep deprived because I had the feeling, that sleep was a waste of time. It was also a believe that if I got one more thing done before I left work, I wouldn't have to do it tomorrow. And that turned Into, now that I stayed late at work, I have to spend extra time with my kids tonight. And that turned into, I spent so much time with the kids that I still have to do dishes and catch up on the bills and check my email. And that turned into, I need a bit of quiet me-time before I go to bed. In the end, sleeplessness leads to lack of focus. But you might say, I get crap done. And I'm sure you do. You are possibly even more creative in how you get crap done because you are actually using much more of your brain because you are stressed (from lack of sleep). Using much more of your brain is not something humans normally need to do so we are not good at it and it takes a huge amount of energy. Salvidore Dali did experiments on sleep and creativity and that cusp of time when you are just falling asleep.

If you are not stressed and not causing your own lack of sleep, maybe you have a sleep disorder like Sleep Apnea or labored snoring. There are apps that can diagnose now, unlike the need to go to sleep clinics several years ago. You'll find sleep is a wonderful thing and life is more relaxing snd less urgent. Oh yeah, for some reason, lack of sleep makes people feel that everything is urgent when it is not. So you yell at people or get impatient for no reason? Sleep issues are likely.

Finally, meditation is not about clearing everything from your mind. It is about clearing all but one thing from your mind. Meditation can be as simple as the 5-10 minutes of quiet in your morning shower as you think about your day or a particular problem from yesterday. The white noise, the flowing water, the temp, all calm and let you concentrate like no other time.


Joined Jan 6, 2004
No, not that kind. This isn't a political thread. This is about controlling one's own thoughts.

Is it possible?
For anyone?
For everyone?

When I hear someone talk of meditation and "clearing the mind" I immediately stop taking them seriously. To me that sounds like mysticism. I could sooner manipulate physical objects with my mind than clear it of thought. Are they serious? Can other people actually clear their minds? Think of nothing at all? The concept seems alien to me. My mind is a circus. Sitting in silence with my legs crossed would only give my mind a wide open space to run amok. The mental cacophony of it would be uncomfortable. I prefer to "control" my mind by setting it to a task.

I played a phone game with my daughter last night where you're on a sled careening down a mountain and you have no control. Well actually you do sort of "control" it with a rocket on the back of the sled; if you want to go right, you wait until the random moment that your sled spins so that it's pointing right and then hit the boost button. If that opportunity doesn't come, then you don't get to go right. I was thinking that's sort of analogous to how I control my mind. It's not always something I can steer; it's something I can just poke/prod in the direction I want it to go (if I can remember what direction that is). If it wants to go in a different direction, it wins. Progress in the direction I want (or my employer wants) is halted.

Some people's religious beliefs and indeed my own personal code of ethics dictate that some thoughts are off limits. For years I have mentally self flagellated for my mind's total disregard for the boundaries. But I'm starting to wonder if it's really something I ever had any control over. If I struggle and fail to banish the chorus of "My Sharona" blaring at max volume in my head for 6hrs straight and drowning out more important thoughts, then how could I hope to abstain from a quick mental act of infidelity?

As I type this I have another song stuck in my head. It's one you've never heard. It's one I had never heard until last night. A Nigerian woman sang it to me in a subway station in a dream. She had a deep baritone voice that most men couldn't match. It wasn't in English so I don't know the words and can't remember even what they sounded like, but the tune is stuck in my head, and if I had any musical ability, any way to play and record the song, I think it would be a hit. It was great. But alas, it will die with me. Or, more accurately, within me, probably before lunch.

I also had a dream that a neighbor lady (someone who doesn't exist in real life) asked for my help setting up a tiny home as it was about to be delivered. She was on the phone with the delivery guy, and asked what kind of trailer he had. I didn't hear his reply but She said "that won't work. My gravel driveway is uneven, you're going to need a higher trailer." She argued with him for a minute, seemed confused, and then gave up saying "yeah, I guess we will see." Then I saw the tiny home crest a hill, followed shortly by not one, but two, matching 1963 Chevy trucks driving side-by-side in perfect sync, carrying the tiny home suspended on runners between their two trailers. It was a total surprise, both in the dream and upon waking. I've never seen anything like it. The idea seemed to have come from somewhere else.

I don't think I'm receiving songs and unconventional transportation concepts via long range mental osmosis from a mysterious source in my sleep, but I have no explanation for their origin. It's my understanding that the things we dream are spawned from seeds of reality that our brains shape with artistic license. But what of these original ideas that come in dreams? I would be tempted to say that they're seeded from things we've seen or heard but can't remember, things locked away in deep memory that we can't access in waking moments. But I'm not convinced of that.

Sorry, I know this might not all seem related, and maybe it isn't, but it feels related, and it feels like my mind is not wholly mine. I feel not in control. Is this normal? Is everyone this way? Or am I the weirdo that I suspect I might be? If this is normal then why do so many people claim to be able to clear their minds? Is it just for kudos?
Hola @strantor

The first time I read yours above, my immediate reaction was: no way. Later, after rereading it several times I concluded that I not only control my mental activity to a certain extent but I also feel able to narrow the focus of my attention for a specific purpose but if you call me a mystic/contemplative person, I am far from it. Such an idea would make me laugh.

What follows is a bunch of ideas/opinions/ experiences as I understand all this, not necessarily true but seeming to work for me.

Starting for the last, in my personal three-rings circus (yes I got one too), oniric activity is frequent, vivid and, up to now, completely out of control. In recent times, I experience dreams occurring more often in one night and even the last one might extend until I am almost completely awake. Some years ago I discovered that the disturbing ones, seem to be triggered, many times, by two specific situations: when suffering an attack of heartburn / acid reflux or when my hands/arms are in a somewhat uncomfortable position whether painfully twisted or imprisoned by the weight of my body.

Placid dreams, not frequent, do occur for no reason that I know.

When I was a kid, my father taught me to relax in a more or less orderly way to facilitate falling asleep. Along the years I perfected the process adding a component suggested I forgot where, consisting in focusing your imagination on a small grey cotton cloud, moving very slowly through the (also grey) sky. The detail of the color points to a no black/no white situation in a peaceful middle

This accounts for "controlling my thoughts"; IOW, avoiding thinking of something else and goes the closest I could be of meditation. No more, no less.

Having suffered / still suffering insomnia rather frequently, in my Chief Officer times, in old vessels plagued with persistent troubles of all kind in long voyages, the worst I could do when suddenly awake in the middle of the night was to start revising what I had pending for the next day. The most realistic equivalent image is/was one of those old PC's displaying what they were loading at booting time. When it started, I could not stop it!

When PC's did not exist and loadicators (true analog computers) where not available on board, the trim calculations in a freighter (by hand of course) taking several parcels of cargo, could demand maybe 40 minutes error checking included. To minimize external influences I used to lock the Deck Office and run the whole thing focusing only on it. Here I come to another point I learnt to control: not only what happens inside your circus is important but also what stimulus you let in. Both parts make for the result.

More than 10 years now, I quit watching TV and I taught / require the surveyors working with me to report on their job, minimizing non relevant info. Which one? simple: anything that is not going to have a place in the final report. My RAM is not that busy now.

BTW, if you didn't, I suggest you to watch Insomnia. I felt somewhat identified with the main character.

Happy circus.