Presence of Mind

Nearly everyone I see these days is complaining of an overactive mind.  They seek ways to reduce the anxiety it causes.  I recall once reading that humans cannot go without food (or will perish) for three weeks, water for three days, breath for three minutes, but thinking- three seconds.

Chew on that.  The mind is bringing up a thought every three seconds.  That’s nearly constant!

I am reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.  The wisdom contained in this book has great potential for shifting readers out of ordinary unconscious, if one has the discipline to practice becoming conscious.

On page 85, he sums it well in the following passage, “Are you worried?  Do you have many ‘what if’ thoughts?  You are identified with your mind, which is projecting itself into an imaginary future situation and creating fear.  There is no way that you can cope with such a situation, because it doesn’t exist.  It’s a mental phantom.  You can stop this health and life-corroding insanity simply by acknowledging the present moment.  Become aware of your breathing.  Feel the air flowing in and out of your body.  Feel your inner energy field.  All that you ever have to deal with, cope with, in real life- as opposed to imaginary mind projections- is this moment.  Ask yourself what ‘problem’ you have right now, not next year, not tomorrow, or five minutes from now.  What is wrong with this moment?  You can always cope with the Now, but you can never cope with the future- nor do you have to.  The answer, the strength, the right action or the resource will be there when you need it, not before, not after.”

I had a lot of time to contemplate this weekend and I began thinking about how different life on this planet could be if everyone lived completely centered in the Now.  I thought about the millions of people across the planet who continually seek happiness through a variety of means and who depend upon romanticizing through the dream of “When x, y, z happens, then I will be happy.”  When I have my dream job, or dream girl, or a bigger house, faster car, a surgical procedure, retirement, then, I will feel successful in my search for happiness.

We can ask ourselves in each moment, am I experiencing joy, ease, and lightness now?  If not, how do I adjust to change my state.  What Tolle explains in the book is simple yet complex.  We have the power to override our thinking minds.  We do this through centering in the heart and feeling into things as opposed to thinking about them.  Tolle suggests that all emotion stems from thought and I cannot find a single piece of evidence to prove that wrong.  When we think something is true, we automatically believe it.  From that believe, our body begins to conjure emotions.

For example let’s say I text a friend and she doesn’t respond immediately.  Some thoughts that might pop up are, “Is she mad at me?”  “Did I says something offensive last time we spoke?”  “Is she avoiding me?”  If I ruminate long enough, the thought solidifies into a belief.  When I start to believe my friend is avoiding me, I create a story revolving around the thought which culminates in a “poor me” state of mind.  I will start to develop an emotional charge which may include feelings like guilt, shame, and anger.  If I don’t do something (active) to break the cycle, it will persist.  I’ll think negatively, which in turn causes me to feel upset, which causes more negative thinking.  Now I’m in a loop.

Tolle is suggesting we can break the loop simply by becoming consciously aware of when it’s happening and then doing something different.  For example, when I notice my thoughts starting to spiral out, I can ask myself, “Is this helpful or hurtful.”  If it’s hurtful, I can simply notice I am having this thought.  Noticing creates a separation between the subject (Self or Being) and object (thought/feeling).  This awareness brings me into present moment or Beingness.  In this state, I can make a choice.  I can choose to notice my breath.  I can choose to allow the feelings and sensations to flow out of my body.  I can choose to adopt a different, more positive story (like I’m sure my friend is busy and will get back to me when she is available).  I can choose truth (by using inquiry or asking Self- can I know with 100% certainty this thought it true).  I can choose to focus on gratitude, love, and awe.

Noticing is the first step to becoming more aware.

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