I wish more people would lose their mind. Not in the traditional way of going insane, but as a way of escaping the ever-present background noise that the mind keeps filling most people’s heads with on a non-stop basis.
-Wonder if I’ll make rent in six months? -What did she really mean by that? -Do I look skinny in these jeans? -OMG. That’s ugly! -She probably meant that I’m not good enough. -What happens if I lose my job? -Why don’t banana sweets taste like real bananas? -What DID she really mean by that? -He is so pathetic!!! -I’m not good enough for that. -My boyfriend doesn’t take me seriously. -Because if he did he would do that and not this. -What did she REALLY mean by that? -Probably nothing good, anyways!
Well, you get the picture.
We are all receivers of this endless stream of thoughts that go through our minds in most of our waking moments. When was the last time you can remember being awake and not thinking about something? Some may wonder if it is even possible? By all means, thinking can be a lovely pastime if you’re daydreaming about something nice. But it can be far less pleasurable if the thoughts that keep running through your head are worrying, frightening and upsetting. The trouble is that most of us are not able to consciously select our thoughts but are rather victims of whatever the mind decides to throw at us. And the mind often does this as a default response to outside events over which we have no control.
So what is the mind? Is it who you are? Is it your soul and your spirit? Is it your identity? Not at all!! Far from it, actually!
Albert Einstein once said: The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. (In this context I speak of the “mind” as only what Einstein calls the “rational mind”. I don’t regard the intuitive mind as a part of the mind at all). I think that Einstein sums it up wonderfully here: the mind is but a servant that humans are equipped with to use as a tool to solve cognitive challenges. However, in most people this servant has taken over its master and is now running the show with so much nonsense bulls**t and with such clamour that the sacred intuition is more or less drowned in its noise.
Your mind and the thoughts that accompany it are not who you really are. The thoughts you keep thinking turn into beliefs that to many create their identity as they know it. But again, beliefs are just thoughts you keep thinking. And if you stop thinking that thought, that belief will dissolve. Then who are you really?
So how is it possible to make this never-ending stream of thoughts stop? Can it be done? It is relatively easy to do this in short moments. Whenever you stop and completely take in the present moment, whether it be a beautiful view, a tasteful treat, a kiss from a lover or just by studying the shape of your finger, there are probably no thoughts in your head. If you are completely focused in the here and now it is impossible to have an active thought. And vice versa: Whenever you have an active thought it is impossible to be completely present.
German author Eckhart Tolle describes this concept of the mind thoroughly in his bestselling book The Power of Now. I think Tolle goes a bit too hardcore for my liking in advocating using the mind solely for practical purposes, leaving the rest of the time to live exclusively in the now. His concepts are however definitely helpful to anyone with a desire to tame the rampant mind that exists in most people’s heads. If you can control your mind there is no reason to worry, judge or even fear. Yeah, that’s right. By taming your mind you can more or less eliminate fear from your daily life. Think about it, what do you fear that is present or imminent here and now? Unless you are seated in a car speeding at a 150 km/h with no breaks or a madman is pointing a gun to your head while you are reading this, I am guessing that all of your fears are somewhere in an imagined future. And the projected future of the mind is actually nothing more than fiction in the present moment. So is it sensible to miss out on here and now because you are fearing something dreadful that will probably not happen anyway at some point in the future?
Taming the mind and putting it in its place in a lasting way is not something that is done overnight. After all, most of us have been taught to think like this through our whole lives by others who also were taught the same thing through their whole lives. However, the benefits of striving to regard the mind as merely an obedient tool are immense. Our thoughts can be extremely powerful, and when used right thoughts can create a life that will blow your mind. Literally. True happiness is never found in other people and objects. Happiness is found in how you view these people and objects. Among other places.
Many might worry what happens when the familiar chattering of the mind stops. Silence? Emptiness? Not at all. In the absence of the steady stream of thoughts that most of us are used to you will find inner peace, freedom, emotional ease, well-being and most of all love. You can discover a connectedness to deeper levels of yourself, your intuition or to something far bigger than yourself, depending on what you choose to believe in.
There are several paths to releasing the grip of the mind and taking your power back, and I think that the most effective gateway is through meditation. In my next post I will share my experience with meditation, and again there are countless approaches to this. Each must find his own way.
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