Do you ever have a hard time turning off your mind?
Does it ever keep you up at night or make it so you can’t relax? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the stuff in your head or on your to-do list? Me too.
Since I’ve been running my own art business, it seems like I have more mental chatter than ever. I’m constantly thinking about my biz, my home, my family, about opportunities, money flows, social interactions, and so on.
Really, I much prefer a more peaceful state of mind.
Have you ever found that mental space where your thoughts are clearer, and calmer?
When you’re there, the things you’re working on fall into place; you’re fast, efficient, and inspired. It’s like you have a huge beautiful grass field you’re running through, on a warm sunny day, all by yourself…
Obviously, it’s the ideal state.
But sometimes it seems rather random whether we arrive here… Or a mental burning field filled with hundreds of children running wild, hyped-up on soda and candy.
Today, I have a tool for you to calm the mind, so you can get back to frolicking in bliss.
On my day off a few weeks ago (which I had just started officially taking. Best. Decision. Ever.), I walked to a park near our house to take our dog, Luna, swimming.
She was having a grand ol’ time jumping in and out of the water, stompin’ sticks, swimming in circles.
I swear, she is the most tried and true example of joy in my life. She unabashedly and whole-heartedly loves life, and water, and sticks, and smells, and dewy grass, and sunshine, and running with the wind in her furs… I am so thankful for her, every-day.
So I was sitting there, watching her, trying to channel my inner Lu, to be present and enjoy myself, but I couldn’t get my dang mind to shut off! I kept thinking about work and all the things I had going on, or wanted to have going on, or should have going on.
I kept trying to be PRESENT, but there were those screaming, caffeinated children, running all around me, tugging on my clothes and throwing things at me…
Well, the figure-outer-er that I am, I started racking my brain for the tools I had to instill some peace. Nothing was working, until…
I suddenly remembered a small golden nugget Eckhart Tolle once shared:
Observe your mind
If you don’t know, Eckhart Tolle is an amazing author who wrote the books, “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth”. They are two of my all time favorites and have been a huge influence on me. As you can probably guess, they are about Presence (with a capital P).
In his books, Eckhart talks about how we’re all over-identified with the mind. When we are not our minds, nor our thoughts. We are the watcher.
Because we have thoughts and can at the same time observe them happening, this shows us that our consciousness is actually separate from the mind.
And the mind, while useful in many situations, is actually what causes a lot of our suffering. (Just think about the screaming child field).
So instead, our goal is to live in that calm, peaceful, flowing state I mentioned earlier.
The tool I remember most from Eckhart’s books, is this practice of observing your thoughts, which is used to quiet the mind.
How to Do It:
(which is strangely similar to a technique for training dogs…)
Observe your mind.
As thoughts arise, notice them, but do not engage. Don’t feed them by interacting with them, or even by judging them as right or wrong.
Instead, watch them arise… acknowledge them… and watch them go.
Each one, left unfueled by your attention, never grows very big, and kind of skulks away. It’s amazing how quickly the thoughts sort of sputter out when you do this.
Continuing with this process, the thoughts will eventually stop even bothering to come up… And you’ll be left with a voluptuous empty space, filled with silence and peace.
When to use it:
This is a great tool to quiet the mind in the middle of a stressful day (when you can’t drink wine), and also when you’re trying to unwind and enjoy yourself.
If you’d like to create longer lasting windows of peace, practice it often!
Note: Someone who is able to maintain this level of no-mind indefinitely, is often described as having reached Enlightenment, Nirvana, or become a Buddha, which mean “gone beyond suffering” or “one who has reached bliss”.
But even if you’re not out there searching for enlightenment, it’s a great tool for de-stressing ;)
So give it a shot!
Take a moment to do it right now!
Sit quietly, close your eyes if you need to. And observe your mind.
Observe the thoughts as they come and go, as if they’re passing down a foggy, lazy creek.
Simply keep observing them without judgement nor interaction, until no more thoughts come.
Bringing more presence into our lives eases suffering, creates beauty, fluidity, and connection. It allows us to enjoy whole-heartedly this one special gift we have, life. Which in my opinion, is the whole point.
I hope you liked this article! If you know someone who has trouble shutting off their mind, please consider sharing this with them!
Some of my favorite books on Presence:
“A New Earth”, by Eckhart Tolle
“The Power of Now”, by Eckhart Tolle
“A Flash of Lightening in the Dark of Night”, by the Dalai Lama