Thoughts are not facts

Mary was on her way to school

She was concerned about the science lesson

She was not sure she could teach the class again today

It was not part of a cleaner’s duty

As you read one sentence at a time, what do you notice? Most readers discover that, as they move from one sentence to the next, they have an “internal update” of the scene in their mind’s eye.
The process begins with; it is a little girl on her way to school, concerned about her science lesson. The next sentence suddenly changes the scene. For most of us the mental model changes to that of a teacher now, until finally it becomes a cleaner.

This simple exercise illustrates the fact that we make implicit inferences around the bare facts that we are reading. There is a process which is actively “making meaning” out of the sensory input at all times and most of the time we are totally unaware that this process is going on, until someone either points it out or plays a trick on us, as in the sentences above.

Our minds create running commentaries on all the events that are taking place in our field of awareness leading to inferences that inevitably give rise to emotions, influencing our moods, behaviour and our physiology.

Our thoughts control our emotional states; those who control our thoughts are in effect in control of our moods and states of being.

“Most people don’t realise that they are NOT their thoughts and that thoughts are not facts,” explains Dav Panesar, researcher and teacher in meditation and psycho-spiritual practices. “We have treated many patients suffering from depression, anxiety and other mental disorders through mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT) with remarkable results”.

Dav Panesar goes on to explain, “We’ve found one of the most liberating and empowering experience is the discovery by patients that they are not their thoughts, and that thoughts are not facts. Thus giving them a choice to either ‘follow’ our thoughts or not”.


Hold attention (by Dav Panesar)

Mindfulness (by Dav Panesar)

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