I have a little experiment that I try periodically just to see how long I can do it. See how long you can do it. It’s tough, real tough.
Close your eyes and try to think of nothing. Literally clear your mind.
And then see how long you can hold it.
I’ve never timed mine before (because you start thinking about how long you’re holding it) but I bet I never even make one minute.
See, the mind is a sneaky little bitch. It tries to wiggle little thoughts in while you’re trying to think of nothing. Sometimes it’s even as insidious as, “I’m thinking of nothing. How long can I do this?”
Or it will start wandering on its own. Very difficult to pull off, but I find that if i keep at it, I can go for longer and longer. My favorite times to do it are when I am going to bed. Usually my mind is scampering around, going over scenes from the day, or thinking about tomorrow, or working through story ideas I have. And even when I stop it and think of nothing… it wants to start up again. So often, I will sit there, thinking I am thinking of nothing, but my mind is actually inserting thoughts in. I have to cut that off and start over again!
Think about it, you have thoughts in your mind all day, all night, all the time. Forcibly quieting your mind is an active method of controlling your thoughts.
Sometimes when I am stuck in a story, I will stop and try to think of nothing for a while, and usually, when I clear the slate, my mind will pick up something and I can run with it. Like I said, it’s usually not for more than a few seconds, but it’s definitely not easy.
Give it a shot and let me know how long you can go for. What was the first thought that sneaked its way in?