Why Is Internal Dialog So Persistent? (Part 1 of 4)
If your meditation has brought you to the point of being aware of your thinking process, then probably you have also noticed the ‘internal dialogs’ that go on inside your mind. These days my meditation is refined enough that I am nearly always aware of when I am engaged in an internal dialog. I can then notice it and dismiss it by changing my focus onto another task or onto my breathing. What isn’t clear to me is why these internal dialogs are so persistent? I notice that the same dialog will keep popping up over and over again with all the same arguments, and then I’m batting it down again.
During my evening walk and afterwards in my sitting meditation, I kept seeing myself going over a particular dialog, repeating it endlessly and I wondered about it because I saw that the content behind it was really not much of an issue for me. Aware of it, I asked during meditation: Why do I keep repeating this dialog and don’t drop it? I know I can’t resolve anything by repeating it ad nauseam. It’s a waste of time and one can’t be aware as long as one is engaged in this cloud of thinking. Out of my meditation I received the following:
Answer: You are doing it because it’s a distraction.
Question: A distraction from what?
Answer: The distraction keeps you busy and away from your true nature.
Question: But I am interested in ‘being my true nature’, so then why do I do it?
Then I understood how the personality works and why we stay identified with it. I saw that identification with one’s personality happens through the emotions reflected in one’s body. In essence we are our emotions. This is also why the work of self-inquiry is the only way to go beyond one’s personality. One has to uncover each part of the personality and finally arrive at the underlying emotions that are driving the whole thing.
Basically emotions are generated in the body for survival reasons to prepare us for the fight or flight response for physical survival, but as ‘personalities’ we are identified with the emotional response happening within, which is part of the complex structure that we built up in order to protect ourselves as we grew. The structure of the personality rests on the base of our being identified with our emotional response and our subsequent need to defend our emotions in the various ways we have learned to do so over the years.
The ensuing ‘internal dialog’ or ‘voice in the head’ after an emotion is triggered, is the personality coming up with arguments to justify it’s world view and hold onto it’s emotional response. This describes also the mind reactive cycle, because as long as one is going on with the dialog, then this has the affect to continue to trigger the same emotion, leading to more thinking, etc.
So the answer to my question is: that I keep up the dialog to keep feeling my emotion that was triggered initially. This ‘turning around oneself’ activity, keeps one busy, identified with one’s personality. We do it because we are afraid to be without emotions, it is fear of the unknown that keeps us busy reacting on our emotions (expressed or not).
My own experience along this road has been a a difficult and long process to unravel the structure of my personality. Mainly because it is tied to one’s emotions which one is very sensitive to touch, because one is bodily identified with one’s emotions. The emotional defense system was adopted by oneself, as a means to protect the growing young person from receiving further harm. As we adopted our emotional way to respond to life to prevent us from getting hurt, then one can readily see how much courage it will take for us to be able to even question such a system and eventually come to the point to be able to give it up.
One can’t just drop one’s emotional response instantly; it will take time and patience to overcome. First one has to acknowledge that one has emotions, then one has to learn to express them, then one needs to see clearly and understand the emotionally reactive patterns one has developed over one’s lifetime to protect one’s self-image. Before one can drop something, one has to see it and know what they are getting out of it and come to the decision that they don’t need it anymore.
So now I know. I do all this talking to trigger an emotional state, which results in my staying busy, which I am willing to do because I am afraid of the silence that would result if I were to stop doing this activity. The other aspect about this topic is that ‘silence happens’ whenever your body is quiet emotionally. While this might happen in moments in meditation, it won’t be a permanent state until all reasons to respond out of one’s emotional state are eliminated. After understanding this I was able to go deeper into my meditation simply by feeling nothing, which could also be seen as allowing oneself to receive love.
August 7, 2005