Our mind is a fabulous problem solving machine. In fact, it’s so good at problem solving, that it’s a bit of a workaholic, an eager over-achiever, the know-it-all of our body.
When we tell it to sit back and relax, all it does is the opposite, showing off its all-day-long activity.
Unfortunately, when we become the subject of our thoughts, we are forced to deal with the consequences of an always switched on mind. Stress, anxiety, burnout, depression… The diseases of modern civilization that impact not only our psychological health, but our physical health, relationships, and productivity as well.
We go over our to-do lists, contemplate all possible outcomes of our decisions and play 1001 scenarios over and over in our heads. And when the mind’s done doing that, it goes back to memories and things that’ve happened, only to wonder off into what we could have done differently.
Think of it: all the mind ever does is live in the past or live in the future. The mind takes no part in the Now.
THE POWER OF NOW
Eckhart Tolle (one of world’s most influential spiritual teachers) explains us that the Now is the equivalent to what life really is. The Now is the only place where we can find who we truly are.
Tolle explains that time is only an illusion. We shouldn’t hold time as precious as we do, because what is truly precious is the one point that is out of time: the Now.
The more we are focused on time —past and future— the more we miss the Now.
Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have – Eckhart Tolle
Now follow your thoughts and see what it does to you. The moment you get in the Now the mind stops. Even if only for a split-second. The mind cannot cope with the Now, because it’s not fed with past and future.
5 TOOLS TO PRACTICE A SILENT MIND
Once you practice the Now the past becomes irrelevant and with that the pain the past can cause. The same counts for the future: 90% of what we envision as our future are just so-called illusions. These fears and doom scenes will never really happen, so why bother?
To simply just ‘be in the now’ is not a small feat. Here are five tools you can start implementing into your day to teach yourself to live in the moment.
1. Change The Channel
Turn off the news for a while and see what it does to you. Most of what is said in the media is directed at your amygdala, the part of your brain sensitive to fear. If you add up all the news of a day, over 80% stimulates fear.
This way, the media truly start controlling your mind, forcing it into either the past or the future and by doing so letting you worry all day long. It is often said that creative and innovative people don’t watch much news.
2. Immerse Yourself In Nature
A walk in nature works miracles to the mind. Try enjoying nature’s silence and beauty. Breathe in. Breathe out. Nature just IS. It wants nothing from you, but gives you everything you need: the Now.
If you would ask a deer the time, it wouldn’t understand your question. For everything in nature, the only time is now. It is all there ever is. Our human mind can learn a lot from this.
3. Be Kind
Be kind to yourself and be kind to our planet. When you eat clean, you treat your body right, but your environment as well.
When you become conscious of the preciousness of nature, you nurture your mind. Kindness positively impacts your self, your children and your children’s children. Be grateful for the joy of living, for the little miracles in everyday life and for the wonders of nature. And protect it the best you can.
When you deeply listen to you body you’ll know what to do to nourish it consciously.
4. Assess Your Relationships
You are the sum of the five people you hang out most with. And all relationships can be divided into two sections. There are those that lift you up, and those that bring you down.
Becoming conscious of the nature of your relationships, reveals that some are only based on trade-offs. A lot of relationships distract you from the Now. Often we have become dependent on them, and create future or past visions around them.
Buddhism teaches us that the root of suffering is attachment. People tend to attach to future visions of what the relationship could be like. Sadly, these flawed illusions are a potential source of sadness.
So be conscious about the people you let in. Are their intentions pure? Are your own intentions truthful? If you don’t cling on to too many illusions, you will not be disappointed.
Start with yourself. You yourself are the only one that can make you happy.
To love oneself, is the beginning of a lifelong romance – Oscar Wilde
5. You Are Not Your Thoughts
Observe your mind. Your mind is not you, it’s your ego-self waiting to be fed by past of future. Smile at it. Smile at past pain. Accept that it is there. Don’t think about it – don’t let the feelings turn into thinking by the mind. Don’t judge or analyze. Stay present, and continue to be the observer of what is happening inside you.
A beautiful way to start abstracting yourself from your thoughts is through meditation. You can start with 5-10 minutes a day and work yourself up from there. I am absolutely in love with Headspace. It teaches many meditation techniques and has truly changed my life.