How do you think? How do you stop thinking?

I’m not sure how to post this, and this post will either rack up pages of dialog or sink like a stone.

I sit here slightly intoxicated, with my brain slowing to a crawl and I wonder “Is this how the mentally retarded think on a regular basis?” I often wonder this.

Normally, my brain seems to do about 20 things at once. I’ll be looking at the sky, for instance, and be thinking “Hey look, cirrus clouds. Those are probably over 26,000 feet high. There are exactly 12 of them, or 3 on average in each quadrant that I can see, except quadrant 2 which has 4 and quadrant 3 which has 2. Cirrus is spelled C-I-R-R-U-S, which spelled backwards is Surric, which isn’t really a word. Blue is a funny word, which sounds French. What other French words do I know? Also, what do I think was the caloric content of the lunch I ate 4 hours ago? Cirrus has 6 letters, which can be divided by 3 for remainder of 2, or 2 remainder of 3, or 6 remainder of 1. It is likely 75 degrees out here, which is 137 degrees from the boiling point of water. What is the origin of the word degrees? Hmmm…” etc etc. This goes on constantly in my head.

Only when intoxicated do my thinking patterns slow down to what I assume are normal levels. My girlfriend and I have tried thought experiments where we write down everything we think of. In the above scenario, she came up with “Clouds are puffy” instead of the long list of things that my brain called into action.

So fellow dopers, how active is your brain? How do you perceive day to day basic information? How do I turn this damn thing off without booze so I can get some rest? I hope this is clear enough, I am not as good at putting things into words as I often wish I was.

Why do you assume your girlfriend’s levels are normal?

Just wondering if you’ve posted this question before because I seem to remember answering it before and the thread dropped like a stone. So if this drops like a stone, you can thank me for that. You’re welcome. :stuck_out_tongue:

Some books that might interest you on this topic:

The Head Trip. It’s about a guy that goes on a search for how consciousness works. So he does a bunch of experiments on himself to see the different ways that he can change his state of consciousness. But when he does it, he talks about what went on in his head. You might relate to some of it.

Women Who Think Too Much. I think it’s a bad title. It’s about people who ruminate too much. That’s the thought process you described above. If you look at her examples in the book, you might find some similarities. Maybe not if your ruminations are just factual. But she does go over the differences between ruminations and OCD and worry. Yes, women are more prone to rumination for several factors, but I don’t think that men are entirely immune.

How to Meditate with Pema Chodron or any book by Pema Chodron. As she talks about meditation, she talks about the different states that people’s minds are in. Sometimes they’re very agitated and sometimes they’re very calm. And working with different states of mind takes different meditation techniques.

I hope some of these make sense when you’re sober.

You do sound kinda manic. Have you tried [del]medication[/del] meditation? It’s a great way to put the brakes on a hyperactive brain. Taking deep breaths helps, too.

Sounds like you might need medication.

I can’t even play cards when I am reasonably boffo. The fact you can hold a pen and write is quite admirable.

I’d suggest meditation, and can add a second recommendation for any book by Pema Chodron (some will be more readily applicable than others) for the beginner, or the perpetual novice like myself.

Meditation takes a while before it clicks, but even just a few minutes of “peace of mind” a day can make a big difference.

If the thoughts are troubling or disturbing in themselves (mine tend towards the anxious/depressive), I’d also suggest some CBT, either with a therapist or a good guide on the subject - I remember the Feeling Good Handbook has some good tips.

Getting present can help. Everyone does it a little differently, but I do it best when I’m walking.

I wonder what Joe meant yesterday when he said that weird thing to me. Was he on drugs? I hope we’re still friends. I have to talk to him today, but first I have to get a corn muffin and a cup of coffee, then check my e-mail, then make sure my flight to Hoboken is is booked, cirrus coulds are 26,000 feet up, this time next year make sure to call…

Stop. Stop.

I breathe in, I breathe out. I’m walking. There’s a tree. There’s a light rain falling on my face. It feels good. The sound of cars rolling down wet pavement. Breathe in, breathe out. Someone walking a dog. Hi doggy! Worm. Stick. Stream. Bridge. Tightness in my chest. It’s blue and electric. Turning white. Turning soft. I’m alive. Breathe in, breathe out. Calmness. I’m smiling. No judgements, just observations. I am. Breathe in, breathe out

Part of my training in meditation went something like this:

It’s natural for your mind to wander when you are meditating. Do not fight these stray thoughts. Observe that a thought has come in. Continue to listen to your breathing as you feel the thought pass by and go away.

Be patient with your mind. It might take some time to get the hang of meditation.

I don’t get it as bad as the OP but I definitely overthink things sometimes so I know where you’re coming from.

When I’m trying to get to sleep and I can’t stop those thoughts flying around my head I like to do a bit of word disassociation. What I’ll do is I’ll think of an object, concept, or person, and then try to think something else as unrelated as possible.

So it might go something like

…Jon Bon Jovi…Apache Helicopter…The DaVinci Code…Labrador on rollerskates…

At first it’s a conscious effort to push the myriad connected concepts out of my mind and think of something novel but eventually they’ll come bubbling up out of nowhere all by themselves. It’s about at that time that I’ll feel myself losing control and not long after I’ll drift off to sleep…

I’ve often wanted a brain-gag for nearly similar reasons that the OP states. – my thoughts are incredibly more disjoint, and do not stay on topic.

The problem with a brain gag is this, How can you think, to take the brian gag off?

If you turn your brain off, you won’t be able to turn it back on, or do much of anything else.