Still Your Mind

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We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.

-Buddha

 

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Well, I propose an amendment:

“If you can’t think something nice, don’t think anything at all.”

That’s right. If you find your mind spiralling into negativity; if your thoughts evoke feelings of fear, guilt, or envy; if you are suddenly bombarded by a parade of judgments…

Still your mind. Stop thinking. It’s that simple.

Simple, but not easy.

How can you stop your mind from thinking? It’s normal. It’s natural. We all do it, right?

It is normal that your mind projects a constant stream of thought. That’s what minds do. Sometimes your mind creates problems that don’t even exist. These imaginary problems cause stress, which can impact your physical health. They cause dis-ease. A restless mind makes a restless life.

But what if you are not your mind?

What if you could stop your mind and instantly change your life?

Think about a time you have been trying to focus on an important work project. (Like right now, for me.) After a few minutes you might notice that your mind has been wandering. Instead of thinking about work, you might have been thinking about… well, let’s pick something completely random – let’s say you’ve been thinking about raiding that stash of coconut, caramel chocolate in the pantry.

Who is the person witnessing your thoughts? Is that you? Or is the chocolate-obsessed thinker you?

In his book Practicing the Power of Now, bestselling author and spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle, writes,

“The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not “the thinker.”

Tolle explains that the one witnessing your thoughts, in a non-judgmental way, is your Higher Self, a higher level of consciousness. As you access your Higher Self, your thoughts recede. Only stillness remains. And you begin to feel a deep sense of peace.

So how can you access this Higher Self?

All the methods below are simple forms of meditation that will help you tap into a higher level of consciousness. The more you practice them, the more peace you will experience in your life.

  1. Watch the thinker. Tolle suggests that you become the watcher of your thoughts. Don’t judge them. Don’t reject them. Just become aware of them. Soon you will notice something interesting: Almost all your unsettling thoughts are replays of painful moments from the past or projections of problems into the future. As you begin to watch the thinker, your thoughts fade and disappear. By watching them you dissolve them. Your mind becomes clear.
  2. Live in the present. The present moment is a portal to your Higher Self. When your mind relives the past or projects into the future, it can make you feel anxious. To bring your thoughts into the present, focus deeply on what you are doing, right now. Become aware of the subtle sensations of this action. If you are touching something, feel the texture of the object. If you are looking at something, imagine you are seeing it for the first time. Being present creates mental clarity and opens you up to the possibilities of the most precious moment of all, the only moment that ever truly exists: Now. The present is just that: a gift. Accept it with gratitude.
  3. Breathe. Inhale deeply and imagine the breath is a beam of light. Feel your chest expand. Imagine the light moving through every cell of your body. Then as you exhale, imagine the breath shining out into the world. Conscious breathing activates your Higher Self by bringing your thoughts into the present. Your mind becomes still. You feel calm and alert.

When I lived on the Tiny Island (see my About page), I would often stroll along the windswept Atlantic beach in the late afternoon light. I began to think of the ocean as my busy mind. The churning waves were like thoughts crashing across my consciousness, and the sand was like my body, sculpted by these thoughts.

Then I cut inland and strolled a half mile to the bay on the lee side of the island. Here the sea was sparkling and smooth, like a mirror. I flicked a shell into the water and watched the ripples expand and shimmer in the golden light. I began to think of the glassy bay as my Higher Self. Calm and gentle. Reflecting peace. Radiating like the ripples from the shell.

When you stop your mind and summon your Higher Self, the light within you burns brighter and shines out into the world. You feel a deep sense of peace and joy. You feel light and free.

Clear your mind so you can hear your heart. Follow your heart and you will live in love and light.

Karen

Recommended Reading:

Eckhart Tolle

How to Stop Thinking

The Art of Thinking – Or Not

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Cast Away

 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Mark Twain

Have you ever felt a deep longing to do something, but fear held you back?

I’ve always wanted to live a simple life on a beautiful tropical island. I tried it once with my husband when we were young. We loved it so much that I wanted to try it again with our kids. I wanted to immerse them in the peace and beauty of nature, to nurture an appreciation for the little things in life. That was my dream.

Then the Great Recession hit. It was a time of stress and sickness, a time of loss. But somewhere deep inside me a glimmer of light flickered in the form of a feeling, a craving, a question:

Why can’t we live our dreams?

The more I thought about it, the lighter I felt. Then it hit me…

We’d already sold our house and most of our possessions. Why not Go with the Flow? Why not sell it all?

Why not sell it all and live our tropical island dream with the kids?

But I had to sell the idea to my pragmatic husband first. I needed a pitch, an angle, a hook. Hmmm… What could it be? What was my hook?

Hook. That was it! Fishing was my hook.

You see my husband, Brian, is an obsessed saltwater fly fisherman. For him, casting a fly to a tailing bonefish on a shimmering, tropical flat is a potent stress buster, a powerful form of meditation.

I had my hook. Now all I had to do was cast out my line. The conversation went something like this…

“Bri-an,”

“Yes?”

“I was thinking…”

“Oh no.”

Nervous chuckle.

“How would you like to live in a place where you could fish for bonefish every day?”

“There are no bonefish here.”

“Yes, I know.” Pause. “But what if we lived in a place where there are bonefish? Somewhere hot and tropical with beautiful, crystal-clear flats?”

“We can’t afford it.”

“But what if I have a way to afford it? “

Direct eye contact.

“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…” I could almost hear the reel scream.

That was the short version of my pitch. Of course there were many other conversations, but generally the whole process was easier than I thought.

Instantly the energy shifted. Instead of serious resignation and a sense of defeat, we felt an almost child-like excitement. A spark ignited. The spark of adventure.

Three months later we packed eight bags, swapped our cell phones for fly rods and moved to a tiny, tropical island in the Bahamas. It was then that I realized:

Loss can lead to living your dreams.

Change your attitude. Change your life.

So if you really crave something, cast away and see if you can catch it. Don’t spend your life wondering… what if? Don’t let regret rule.

You really can live your dreams. It’s all up to you.

Live light and live happy.

Karen