Contrary to what you heard on the playground in grade school, the brain never stops ticking.
Trying to control one’s own mind can be one of the most challenging tasks we could ever attempt. Is it something that is even possible? Meditation has been a way that people have tried to conquer this task, but does it ever really work?
Thoughts are the result of chemical firing between brain cells. Thoughts can happen both consciously and unconsciously. Meditation is as close to fully stopping a thought that we know of, but does it actually stop the thought? Researchers feel as though it is not theoretically possible. How would we even test this notion?
What makes meditation so unique is how aware it makes people of their thoughts. On a normal day, we have hundreds of thousands of thoughts that race in and out of our minds. Many times we don’t even realize it is happening. But people who are keen on meditation are able to recognize a shifting of thoughts and can bring their mind back to the task at hand.
Think of all the times someone has asked you what you’re thinking about and you’ve responded with “nothing.” The likelihood of you thinking about absolutely nothing is probably slim to none. There is a good chance that you are deep in thought about something but you only become aware of it when someone brings it to your attention. Humans tend to have a stream of consciousness that they are not even aware is happening in their brains.
Our brain is constantly thinking in the background. Think of a time that you saw someone but couldn’t remember their name. A few hours later the name pops into your head. You might have thought you forgot all about it, but your brain was trying to connect the dots for you to identify who that person was.
Many times we are faced with a difficult decision and ultimately turn to our gut to make the decision. We are able to turn to our gut because our brain is doing calculations as to what is the best decision to make. It realizes that this is a gut decision, which ultimately leads to the decision that you make.
It is tough to answer this question because it doesn’t seem possible to ever turn our thoughts off. Even when we sleep, think of the dreams that are coming to the forefront of our brain. We are constantly thinking of something and, even if we weren’t, we would never be able to test it.