I have become a rat catcher! It’s absolutely awesome. Who would have thought rat catching could be such fun?
Recently I was engrossed in a project and I made a mistake. I suddenly heard in my head “You ALWAYS do that. What is the matter with you? Dummy!” “Gottcha!” I yelled. Luckily there was only my dog to hear me. The thought seemed to separate from me – spin around the outside of my head. It happened again a little later. Again I yelled “Gotcha!“.
It became a game, becoming aware of these undermining and nonconstructive thoughts/voices. There was something about catching the thought and yelling “Gotcha!” that seemed to stop everything in its tracks. “I’m a rat catcher” I thought, catching these rats of thoughts single-handedly, one at a time. I imagined a big net that I slammed over the rat and it was trapped. Although I’m not too sure that would work in physical form, it worked perfectly for catching these random and unwanted thoughts. The thought was separated from my unconscious thinking, and caught red-handed.
Become the Observer
We become conscious and aware by becoming the observer – watching our thoughts. It can be quite an eye opener or ‘aha’ moment when we first realize that we really aren’t our thoughts, that they are for the most part the mind chatter that occupies most of our thinking most of the time.
Meditation is a wonderful place to start watching these thoughts and to learn to release them as they arise so we can return to the stillness of the great unknown.
But what about during the day, when we are up and off into the busyness, the all-consuming to-do lists and activities? So much of our lives runs on automatic, just doing the next thing and the next thing, on and on ad infinitum. Though it can be very challenging to do, a great practice is to make stops during the day, in the middle of whatever we are doing, and breathe, take a moment to be aware of your surroundings; what you see, what you hear, smell and touch. In time you can learn to be more aware of the background fabric of your life through all of your activities.
Attachment to Stories
We all know what it’s like to get mired in our thinking, especially if there is a strong emotional attachment. The stories that we tell ourselves about a situation that didn’t go as we would like, or people who aren’t how we want them to be, gets repeated over and over in our minds stirring up more emotion and preventing us from being able to rise above the situation and see it for what it really is.
Along with rat-catching I have learned to catch myself in the middle of a story, and say “That isn’t me” and although mind doesn’t like it when I do that, it does tend to let go – even if only briefly. Somehow this separates who I really am from who I think I am.
The ego doesn’t like it when it is caught red-handed and will fight for its life – which usually results in some kind of negativity arising. In my rat catching analogy, it is like rats fighting to get off a sinking (thinking) ship. So chaos reigns for a while.
Find Inner Stillness
If the thinking that is rising up from the unconscious has a lot of emotion attached to it, just yelling “Gotcha!” when you catch it might not be enough. It is said we can’t solve a situation with the mindset that created it. So sometimes we have to find inner stillness so we can rise above it all and allow that inner stillness to guide us.
An uncomfortable emotion is often the first clue a rat is rattling around in your mind. Feeling uncomfortable can be an alarm to just stop for a minute and listen to what is going on in your thinking.
Happy rat catching!
REMEMBER! None of these thoughts are true. It’s just that you have chosen to believe them. If you don’t believe them, they will disappear and you can instead choose to place your focus on thoughts that serve you and your vision for your world.