An example will clarify the distinction between the different levels of thinking. I may think “I will stop for a cup of tea now”, an ordinary level thought, but
if instead of immediately acting on that thought, I stop and take a little time to refl ect, I might think about why I had that thought in the fi rst place. Is my body telling me that I am dehydrated? Or do I have an internal body clock which is tuned into sending me certain signals at certain times of the day? Perhaps the reason for my thought was not related to thirst but to feeling tired or bored or stuck or even in need of a reward for having done some work today. From any one of these thoughts I could follow where my own thinking leads. I may become interested in any one of a number of areas from philosophy to neuroscience and biology. I might choose to pursue one of these areas and start an internet search, or I might choose to ignore all these thoughts and return to writing this chapter. On the other hand I might act on this thought and make a conscious decision to stop and make tea. Becoming aware of all the different thoughts which might lie behind my initial thought means that I have shifted my position from the ordinary level of thinking to thinking about the thought itself; why I had that thought, how it was linked to my biology, emotional state or psychology, and then to make a conscious decision about what to do about the thought. At the same time, while writing this, I have been partially monitoring that initial thought and occasionally checking back in to see if I still really want a cup of tea or if the moment has passed. From the initial fairly ordinary thought, I have been on a thinking journey about the thought itself and have brought my past knowledge about myself, about what a cup of tea would do for me and about whether I want to stop what I am doing to make one to bear on my decision to wait a little while longer and then have a proper break.