I’m overwhelmed by my crazy thoughts

Feb 12, 2024

 

QUESTION

Hello Venerable Robina,

 

I hope this finds you well, staying healthy. I have been enjoying your short videos on Instagram; the messages really resonate and I appreciate you making those for everyone to listen to and think about.

 

I’m writing because I’m having a difficult time with thoughts in my mind. I had written Rinpoche a few years ago and he so kindly gave me advice to do a particular practice, which is quite long, and to read certain books. But I never did the practice properly.

 

The thoughts have been coming back more and more and I just feel overwhelmed by them. The disturbing thoughts are about people who go crazy and harm people, and then my mind spirals and I worry that I’ll start doing these types of things. 

 

I need to do the full practice Lama Zopa instructed. At least I’ve started doing just the short mantra.

 

Can you please help? Or advise on what to do? How to get rid of these thoughts? It’s just causing me a lot of worry and stress.

 

With much love and appreciation,

B

 

ANSWER

Dearest B,

 

Thank you for telling me what’s going on.

 

Yes, you are right: do the practice that Rinpoche recommended. If you have confidence in Rinpoche’s advice, you would do that. Yes, it’s long, but if it helps, then it’s worth the effort, right?

 

I can’t offer advice wiser than Rinpoche’s! But my advice, apart from the above, would be to try to discipline your life: get up early, offer water bowls, do a nice practice. Do something useful in the day. Finish the day with the four opponent powers with Vajrasattva. Then go to bed early.

 

This will lift you, give you confidence, a sense of purpose. And will definitely help your mind.

 

And try to not believe all the crazy thoughts! That’s crucial. Often we can’t stop the thoughts, but we can learn not to be afraid of them and not to believe them. This is so important. 

 

Love to you!

Robina

 

QUESTION

Dear Ven. Robina,

 

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I do appreciate it. Yes, you are right about doing the practice. I feel like I’ve been in this state of freeze-mode. Where effort and doubt have come in. I was able to visit with our local geshe today to talk and do some prayers together. He helped explain about not believing or engaging in discussion/spending time with others who create doubt in the mind especially to do with the Dharma. 

 

I hear what you’re saying about a practice each day. It seems I go through phases of having a routine then falling away from it. So that feels important in general to be doing a practice each day. 

 

And the thoughts: how do you mean to not be afraid of them? I feel like I very much am fearful of them, and I pray for strength and guidance and protection. 

 

Thank you so much and Happy Losar 

B

 

ANSWER

B: just because thoughts arise in our mind is no reason to believe them. But we do! It’s quite ridiculous, really.

 

So practice allowing the thoughts to just be there – some karma ripening, that’s all – but don’t give them power. You’re afraid of them because you give them power, you believe them.

 

Practice not believing them.

 

They’re thoughts, they’re concepts, they’re opinions, they’re viewpoints. You don’t have to give them any credibility at all!

 

Practice that.

 

And keep doing your practice, keep your lamas close to your heart. Do their wishes. Protect yourself.

 

Love,

Robina

 

QUESTION

Thank you, Venerable Robina.

 

I will keep doing practice and keeping lamas close. Yes.

 

How would you allow a thought to be there without following it? My mind can get anxious quite easily, so I’m just curious what you’d suggest here too.

 

Thank you, again, very much.

 

You’re so very strong, I admire that.

 

Much love,

B

 

ANSWER

Dearest B:

 

Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean it’s a valid thought. It’s from some old karma way back, stored in your mind, that’s just popping up.

 

Just because it’s there, why do you give it power?

 

You have to learn to allow the thought to come up and just let it be. Don’t follow it. Don’t believe it. Don’t give it credibility. Don’t involve in a conversation with it.

 

This is an absolutely fundamental practice of being a Buddhist, B.

 

Forget about extreme thoughts of killing, etc. Just all the usual attachment thoughts and anger thoughts and low self-esteem thoughts – it’s exactly exactly exactly the same practice.

 

They’re just old habits, old junk, and we have to learn to distinguish between negative thoughts like these and the positive thoughts – and also, crucially, to cultivate the good thoughts, to consciously have them. 

 

Then we begin to analyze the negative thoughts and know they are not valid thoughts; we don’t want them, we don’t want to follow them. So we learn to stop believing in them.

 

We learn to just let them come and go.

 

Slowly, slowly, we begin to have control over our thoughts. The negative ones diminish and the positive ones grow.

 

It’s a very conscious process, B.

 

This is being a Buddhist!

 

Do you understand?

 

QUESTION

Yes, that makes sense. Thank you for explaining further. I will do my best to practice this and read your emails again as I need to.

 

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