“Rule your mind or it will rule you” – Buddha
Many of my clients this week have asked me how to calm their crazy mind. We are a society full of distractions – you are constantly either physically busy, mentally busy, or both. When your monkey mind is agitated and incessantly moving, your thoughts are like loud chitter-chatter, going over the list of things to do, playing a story over and over, criticizing or judging something that happened earlier, or worrying about something that may or may not happen in the future. These mental gymnastics can be all consuming and mentally exhausting.
Most people choose to anesthetize their pain, instead of dealing with the crazy monkey mind and being in the present moment. Typically, people choose to look outside themselves to things like food, drugs, alcohol or TV that partially numb the pain and distract them from objectively observing the present moment. They turn to something or someone outside themselves to try to heal fragmented parts of their souls. They simply check out, instead of doing the work to be aware of the present moment, their thoughts and feelings in order to heal from within. This unconscious behavior continues the cycle of their suffering.
Our mind yells and repeats thoughts over and over, but the soul only whispers the truth once. So you must quiet your mind in order to hear the truth. In this stillness, you will find the gap between your judgments and the truth. In this peaceful gap, there is a lesson you can learn now to continue your path of growth.
At first, it may be challenging to continually bring yourself back to living fully in the present moment. It takes work, but it is much easier and more fulfilling than continuing to suffer from the afflictions of your thoughts. How many thousands of hours of energy have you spent reacting, judging, over-thinking, and criticizing when you could have been mindful, in the moment, grateful, compassionate and joyful? Instead of looking outside yourself, you can look within to see what is triggering your feeling of fear, and you work to become whole, happy and peaceful. You will struggle less and respond mindfully to the cause of any suffering gracefully.
Practicing awareness is called a “practice” for a reason. It’s like working out – you don’t do it once and expect to have a rock hard body. Similarly, you don’t meditate once and obtain enlightenment. Living in a state of conscious awareness means that you are consistently coming back to the present moment, your soul, and the truth. You welcome and witness your thoughts, actions and feelings, including your resistance, without judgment or attachment, so you can objectively observe how your Ego has you in a headlock that keeps you stuck, in a constant state of worry, criticism, fear, and mediocrity.
When you practice being mindful, you begin to recognize patterns of your thoughts and behaviors, and by practicing awareness, you will catch unhealthy patterns before they carry you off into a rushing river of chaotic thoughts and emotions. By living with conscious awareness in the present moment, you allow yourself to experience each moment fully, you are grateful, and you don’t allow your thoughts and ego to build up a story that will limit you. Your awareness keeps you in the present moment, and in that present moment you have the power of choice and opportunity to change and grow.
This practice of consistently observing without judgment, accepting what is, and practicing love, compassion and forgiveness becomes your way of life. You move with the current of life with grace and ease instead of struggling against it.
Weekly Practice: Practice meditation for 5 minutes, sitting quietly, and simply witness your thoughts, feelings, and even your resistance. Let go of any judgement or attachment to the outcome. Just be the objective observer. You can meditate on sound, breath, an object, while walking – on anything, as long as you are present to it. Also, watch when your ego begins to criticize, compare, or judge. These are just fabrications of your mind, and are not real. Only the present moment is real. Good luck and let me know how it goes!
* This article contains excepts from Audrey Sutton’s book “The Blissful Bitch” due out in 2014.