So often we live in the future, instead of the present moment. Creating anxiety, stress and a constant questioning of life, should it be like this? And wondering what we are doing wrong… which creates even more stress. To get out of this self-created vicious circle of anxiety, requires taking some time to become present.
Your heart may beat ten to the dozen or your mind may be in constant turmoil and overdrive as you think about what you have to get done. Or maybe you are endlessly thinking what needs to happen over the weekend, next week, next month, next year…
Even when you try to be present thoughts of your past and your future race through your mind and if you try to force your mind to be quiet your mind talk may slow down, fall away even and reveal for a moment a feeling of peace and open awareness. Yet this is a transient state and all your forcing and efforting can actually push the stillness you are seeking further away.
Your mind alone can never completely stop your mind talk. As soon as your force of will relaxes, thoughts will inevitably come flooding back into your awareness.
What if your mind talk is not the problem and in fact there is nothing wrong with your mind?
What if the real problem is in wishing your thoughts weren’t there? Battling with them? Or struggling against them?
What if your thoughts had no meaning whatsoever, except the meaning you choose to give them?
Giving your energy and attention to your thoughts simply perpetuates them and keeps you from the very thing you are wishing for, to be free from them. Instead of fighting your thoughts, relax, become an open field of awareness, effortlessly resting in the moment. And let your thoughts like clouds in the sky pass through your awareness without needing to engage with them, simply be aware of them. It’s relaxing, natural and totally effortless. All efforting is an invitation to stop, open and be present.
Don’t be entertained by your thoughts
The truth is we all become distracted and entertained by our thoughts. You believe your endless stories of pain, your successes and failures, your position in life.
Who would you be without your stories?
We mistakenly believe our stories give us something; meaning to our life, define who we are, what we do, our lifestyle, our identity.
And you can simply stop!
Scientists have found that before any thought arises there is a momentary pause and in that split second you are at choice:
- To follow the thought, give it all your attention, intensifying the story of blame and hurt OR
- Stop and allow the thought to arise and pass through like a bird in the sky?
The choice is yours. You are free to follow your painful thoughts or not. Your mind is capable of only one thought at a time – so you can choose to let it be painful or none of your business!
Try this effortless and easy experiment and rest in your open sky of awareness.
Close your eyes, relax, take some nice deep breaths in and out, gently becoming aware of awareness… become aware of how spacious it is… how free.
Now, resting as this awareness, welcome all your thoughts – Allow them to come flooding into the vast open sky of awareness…
Allow all of the them… welcome not just these thoughts but any thoughts that have ever existed… Even all of humanity’s thoughts.
Stay wide open and relax your body as you allow whatever thoughts to pass by… Does any thought really touch the essential you? Does it in any way affect the open sky? …Open your eyes when you are ready.
Many of you, trying this for the first time, may find yourselves so at ease that no thoughts even bother showing up. When no resistance is offered to thought, thoughts finally realise they are free to come and go. They feel welcomed and simply rest, undisturbed and allow your awareness of the present to simply bet.
For others of you, a whole bunch of thoughts may come flooding. Simply say great! And ask yourself, do these thoughts in any way touch or affect my true self? Do I choose to give my attention to these thoughts or do I choose to let them go? The choice is yours, always.
Lessen your stress and anxiety with a simple technique
It takes courage to be willing not to know. To resist consulting your past ideas or knowledge or refrain from looking to the future – to be just here now.
A favourite question that your thinking mind may ask is “Why?”. It causes you to go directly to your mind and out of the present moment. When this happens, imagine a mystery bucket of ‘unknowables’, and when “why” arises, simply throw it into the bucket.
“Why did this happen?” – Don’t know, in the bucket. “Why is the grass green?” – Don’t know, in the bucket. It’s a simple, yet powerful way to keep your awareness right here, right now. Tossing all the “why’s” into the bucket will free you from needing to know and you can relax in the knowledge that your infinite intelligence already knows what to do each and every moment.
Being present reduces stress and worrying about the past or the future. So stop any games of postponement of thinking ‘my life is too hectic to be present’ or ‘there`s so much to think about’. Instead be willing to stop, to open and be present and see how much time you actually have.
As Brandon so wonderfully describes some of her most hectic times:
It actually felt like time expanded – that it was leisurely and gracious and there was plenty of time to answer all the questions and take all the decisions while remaining open and patient… It felt so spacious that there was even room for new inspiration.