Oh boy. In the last blog, I said that we would take a look at what’s going on in our heads. Well, I’ve been taking a look at what my mind is doing and it’s not a pretty picture. My mind is constantly busy. It makes me think of the comedienne Lucy Arnaz when she played a worker on the assembly line of a chocolate factory. When she couldn’t keep up, she did what she could, stuffing chocolates into pockets and mouth. Overload! This is funny in a comedy sketch, but not in real life. The mind is a bit like this, constantly producing product which quickly passes by.
I’m also noticing that the mind wants to dominate. The mind likes to make us “think” that we are in control. But try this: Don’t think of a blue giant with wings and flowers. (OK. Be honest, what just happened?) Chances are, that despite the fact you were explicitly told NOT think of something, you did anyway.
In essence our minds are both busy and automatic. This is the state of the current human condition. Michael Singer, teacher, and author of The Untethered Soul wants to make us aware of this condition. He says, “You have a mental dialogue going on inside your head…it just keeps going and going… and if you think you don’t, just listen to what your mind is saying right now.” Yes, we hear you Michael. It’s our constant commentator.
Singer goes on to explain that the reason we humans have troubles is because, underneath, we don’t feel good about ourselves, “People are not ok inside…your mind has decided how things should be in order for you to be ok…you can complain about this…or you can take a look at what’s going on inside. Let’s be scientists.” Ok, Michael Singer, we’re up for the challenge. We’re going to take a look.
Exercise: Watching and catching the mind
- Keep track of how many times your mind takes you over. Watch. Breathe. Keep paying attention.
- Each time you find your mind starting to go off on its own, give yourself a check mark. (You know—1-2-3-4 ticks and then the payoff, the slash mark.) See how many points you can rack up. I know people you have accumulated over 80!)
- Notice how your mind moves, how it darts around, it’s demanding to be front and center. That’s how it rules the roost.
- Watch how your mind distracts you—taking you out of the moment and into the past or future.
- Watch for opinions. Watch for judgments. Watch for stories that start with one thought and then branch out in all directions. (Don’t forget to give yourself a check mark for each event you notice.)
- Give yourself an extra check mark every time you realize you’re going off, and then come back to center.
Please let me know how you do with this practice.
This mind-check practice is a good way to see what is actually going on in our heads. This is important to understand because we want our minds to be of service to us, not to be leading us around by the nose.
“If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.”–Lao Tzu
We want to be able to witness, and switch, ourselves back to center. We want to learn about the hidden awareness which can, and is, constantly changing our bodies, feelings, and minds. (Much more about this in future blogs.)
Further ways to build your “muscle of awareness”
Dawson Church, teacher, author, and researcher (here’s his 21-day Tapping Challenge) recommends times that are especially good for viewing, catching, and shifting awareness back to self:
- When you first wake up in the morning
- As you’re falling asleep at night
- When you realize that your thinking is being pulled into negativity
- When you’re tempted by an addictive habit
- When you’re awake in the middle of the night
- When you are expecting to go into a difficult situation
- When you’re tempted to think negatively about another person
- When you’re being self-critical
- When you feel anger rising in your body
- When you’re experiencing physical pain or symptoms
- When you’re focused on breaking an unhealthful habit
When we strengthen our “muscle of awareness,” we can learn to coax our authentic selves back. (Remember, it’s not how many times we move away from ourselves, it’s how many times we come back.) With practice, we begin to notice when we are “off our game” or absent from our life, rather than present. And when we do notice, Ahh, we are starting to come Home. Let it feel good.
Remember, there is light for you, and your mind, at the end of the tunnel. Together we will work on building our awareness, mastering our minds, and moving into our inherent gifts. In this way we will be sending our positive vibes out into the world.