One of the most quintessential aspects of our experience, and one most taken for granted, is thought. It also totally, subconsciously habitual. We do it constantly. If we suddenly find ourselves not thinking for a moment it's shocking.
Try not thinking, for just 30 seconds or a minute. Can you not have any thoughts for 30 seconds? Probably not. Why is that? What is so compelling about thinking that we can't stop doing it for 30 seconds?
Is it something about the thoughts themselves? Perhaps. What is it that we think about? It might be hard to remember. When you start thinking about thoughts and trying to observe them they change. You'll forget that you were trying to observe them or think about them, but then you'll remember again, and then maybe you can notice what thoughts you were having that were so compelling that you forgot about observing them.
Me, I tend to quantify time a lot. I tend to think about how long it is till some event, or how long it's been. I tend to have a lot of conversations in my mind with people about things I feel passionate or frustrated about. Bits of songs and scenes of movies take up a good chunk of the time. All in all, unless I'm intently focusing on something, my thoughts, each individual though in itself, isn't that interesting.
So why can't I stop having them? And where do they come from anyway? Once I start observing my thoughts it gets confusing. Does my mind think them? But if it's my mind thinking them what is doing the observing? Is that my mind too? Is my mind multi-faceted? Am I schizophrenic? It's like there's the observer mind and the thinking mind, and the latter is so strong that the former is generally consumed by it.
We live in a society that emphasises the intellect over intuition or emotion or the physical. We're bombarded by messages and images, mentally stimulating information. Most occupations involve or focus on mentally engaging tasks. The arts and music, spiritual practices, and physical activity are hobbies, pastimes, or things that certain kinds of people do.
There is no room in our society for silence and stillness. This addiction to frenetic activity is a new phenomenon, yet we take it for granted as the way it's always been, and we have no idea what we may have lost.