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Dropping Mind Chatter

By Emily Agnew
December 19, 2008

Share a laugh with Emily as she explores the root cause of restless, negative mental activity and offers a path to internal peace and quiet, through the story of a beloved Dr. Seuss character.

When I was a child, I loved the books of Dr. Seuss, and one of my favorites wasThidwick the Big Hearted Moose. Thidwick is an endearing moose. He’s very kind and sweet, and his sweet kindness gets him in to trouble. He lets a Bingle Bug ride on his horns for a day, and next thing he knows, he has (at the Bingle Bug’s invitation) a tree spider, a Zinn-a-zu Bird with family, a woodpecker, Herman the squirrel, a bobcat, a turtle, a fox, some mice, some fleas, a bear, and three hundred sixty two bees in his horns.  His moose friends shun him. His unwanted guests overwhelm him with noise and prevent him from crossing Lake Winna-Bango to find moose moss to eat. He is cornered by hunters who covet his unique antlers, when a miracle occurs: he sheds his horns, guests and all! Thidwick happily swims the lake to rejoin his friends in their search for moose moss to munch, and the guests end up stuffed on the Harvard Club wall. 

I was missing Thidwick recently, so I made a pilgrimage to the library and found him in the children’s section. The kid in me laughed at the Bingle Bug and the moose moss. My adult self was struck by the idea of unwittingly allowing unwanted thoughts and energies into my consciousness. How and why does this happen? And how can I “drop my horns” when it does?

Just as an eating binge starts with a single bite, a thought binge can start very small, as small as a Bingle Bug. But next thing you know, it’s a zoo up there, with all kinds of bellowing, bleating, buzzing, and barking. Thidwick’s friends desert him, and he struggles to eat, sleep, and keep himself safe. Likewise,when you are occupied with the contents of your head, it’s hard to take care of yourself well: hard to sleep deeply, hard to eat mindfully, hard to be present with yourself or with others. Thidwick is threatened by hunters; for us, the hunter is the wounded self that takes over when no loving adult is present to run the show, and the bewildered terror Thidwick feels as he faces the guns is our inner child’s bewilderment and terror upon being abandoned by us.

What causes this mental mayhem? We can blame the constant barrage of noise, the fear-based media communication, and the flood of electronic information that have come to be defined as “normal” or “acceptable” in our culture. Or we can blame other people, whose negative or draining energy can greatly affect us.  And it is critical to our health and peace of mind to be very discriminating about what we read, what we watch, and with whom we choose to spend time.

But ultimately, our mind chatter is caused by the absence of an internal loving adult presence. This means it will continue even if we minimize our exposure to outside energies, until we decide to take full responsibility for the way we are feeling, moment to moment. If we don’t, our wounded self will rush in to fill the vacuum. That is the wounded self’s whole reason for existing: to try to get love and avoid pain, all through attempts at control. A barrage of thoughts is one way that can it look. Mind chatter is a wounded effort to protect from being present, this moment, in your body. And the wounded self will never lack for material to latch on to.

This is partly because we live in a world where many scary or stressful things are happening, and the media emphasizes scary news. But even if we protect ourselves from media influence, the wounded self will continue to generate fears and worries internally, if we allow it to.  This means that choosing to take responsibility for your state of mind is not a decision you can make just once and then be done with it. You must choose again and again. In this regard, we are different from Thidwick. Thidwick’s antler-dropping was not a conscious effort to get rid of his pesty guests. It was the blessedly timely occurrence of an annual biological event. We humans, on the other hand, must choose to drop our horns.

How do we drop our horns? By moving in to loving adult curiosity. Unlike the wounded self, whose sole intent is to avoid pain, the loving adult is committed to being open to learning, even in the face of fear. You move into your loving adult by choosing the intent to learn. As soon as you do this, your mind (and your inner child) will start to calm down. With curiosity, you can uncover the wounded beliefs that are the source of your mind chatter. Thidwick believed that “a host, above all, must be nice to his guests!”  This nearly got him shot and stuffed. Perhaps you believe that if you just think enough, you can figure things out, or that you can control the outcome of events by going over them in your mind, or that being caring or responsible means thinking nonstop about unresolved issues in your life (or your loved one’s lives). It helps to stop and ask, “Why am I thinking about ______________[fill in the blank]? What am I imagining I will accomplish by continuing this train of thought? Is this making me feel better, or worse?”

If your thinking is making you feel worse, then it is time to invite loving adult presence into your awareness. Drop into your body to sense your feelings, and enter into a state of curiosity about what you are doing, saying, or thinking that is causing those feelings. Follow through the Inner Bonding process by asking your guidance for the truth and for any loving action. Take the action and see how you feel. As always, it is simple, and powerful. Just keep remembering to choose to do it! It’s your choice, moment by moment. You can endure the din of your thoughts. But why not do some Inner Bonding instead, then join me and the moose crowd by Lake Winna-Bango  for some moose moss munching?



Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose is published by Random House and is a copyright of Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., 1975.


©EmilyAgnew, 2008




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