January 2, 2014
I am on a path to somewhere and the only thing I know is that I am here, now. But the moment that passed a blink ago seems to still be here and so do the events of a few days ago. The future, which hasn’t even happened yet, is also here…which is a great mystery. It feels as if the two things that are not here now, are having more impact on my thought process and physical body than what IS here now.
This is the stuff for “inquiry” for certain. But wait……certain? Is there such a thing?
I recently had two very different experiences. One was so subtle and opening….a glimpse at the mirror that contains no images. A breath of time that was an eternity. A hint of knowing that not knowing is all there is.
The other experience was like being hit by a Mack truck and dragged along for a bit of time. I still ache, mentally and physically.
Both are over and done with, but still “here.” One I want to erase and the other I want to escape into.
This moment right now I’m looking into a mirror that feels cracked and the images seem distorted. I see myself but I am contorted and fragmented.
In a minute I’ll turn off the computer and sit and be with this. Be present with only the moment. I’ll try to “let go of my worries and be completely clear-hearted.”
May 20, 2013
I am in my mid 50’s. I need to loose some weight. My hair is gray. There are some wrinkles on my face. Freckles have changed into age spots. I move more slowly than I used to. I wear glasses to read.
At 50 I took up Svaroopa yoga and it has breathed a new life into me. I embrace myself. Even when I look in the mirror and do not see the person I see myself as….25 years younger, flawless skin, light reddish hair……inside I am that person.
Today I did a 3 hour yoga class. As always, the class begins and ends with shavasana (the Corpse Pose) and a guided mindfulness meditation. I have moments where I experience what some people call the” zen-like mind”. No thoughts. Just a blank silence.
Today when my teacher began the end of the class shavasana, she said what she says every time: ” As you settle into shavasana notice how your body feels.”
I momentarily held my breath as I heard my inner voice answer, “Perfect”.
That is a word I never associated with yoga. Or with myself. But there it was. Perfect. And that IS how I felt. In every sense. The whole moment. My whole being. My thoughts or lack of thoughts. The silence and the mind chatter. The muscle twitching.
It made me think of the mantra I sometimes use: So Hum. It means “I am that” or “I am this”. And that is what that “perfect” meant: “I am this”. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just this.
It was a lovely moment. A lovely place to be. Just this. And it was complete in itself. I was complete in myself.
January 5, 2013
Do you know what a Buddha Board is? Or a Zen Board? It’s a magical board where you use a soft calligraphy brush dipped in water to create a picture, a design, or to write a word. Then as you sit back and watch, it slowly disappears, dissolves and is gone. It is brief, fleeting. Impermanent.
What if we could make our crazy, busy, over thinking minds like a Buddha Board……noticing what we have created in our mind, or are experiencing with our emotions, and then watch it fade away and be gone? Anxiety, worry, fear, doubt, apprehension anger, sorrow, anticipation, even joy and happiness. What if all these things were there, and then not there?
For me the idea of not holding on to the experience of happiness, joy, satisfaction, contentment, etc., is hard to “want”. At the same time, I understand these are a type of false happiness because they do not last….they fade even if I try to hold on to them. They are fleeting. They cause me to have desires for more of the same, or feel sad when they are replaced by another emotion, or to long for the past, or be anxious about whether the future will hold more of the same good feelings or not, to wish or hope for something more or different……what a circle.
Another analogy is your mind being like the sky with clouds drifting by…changing and disappearing. Thoughts and emotions are like that. When we watch clouds for real in the sky we do it with awe and humor and then, when the cloud has changed into something else or floated away, we do not mourn the “loss” but think: “That was fun.”, or “That was beautiful.” Often we do not give it another thought. No longing for that cloud to return. It was, and now it is gone. Yet we experienced it, appreciated it. It brought some fun into our lives….made us smile and feel good.
Our minds are so jam packed full of stuff: thoughts, ideas, emotions, self doubt…..Sometimes it is hard to just be settled and present with where we are now. To be grateful for life and health. To smile and make eye contact with someone. To say “thank-you”. To be present for ourselves and someone else.
Everywhere we go there is artificial noise, and visual overload. All around us are images and suggestions of what will make us feel happy, or powerful, or important, or satisfied, or beautiful, or even scared or worried.
But will they really? In a lasting, meaningful way?
I’ve come to a time in my life where I WANT my mind to be like a Buddha Board. I want to be able to watch the clouds in my mind drift by, change shape and disappear. I want to be able to be in THIS moment, free from longing for the past or being anxious for the future. One is gone forever, and the other may not even come.
December 28, 2012
2013 is around the corner. With it’s arrival comes the opportunity (a favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances) for a fresh start. If you want to choose that path.
The tradition of making a New Year’s resolution is 4,000 years old! Ancient Babylonians made promises to start the New Year off on the right foot in order to earn the favor of the Gods. The “New Year” wasn’t always observed in January because a month called “January” didn’t always exist! It originally was the Spring Equinox celebration. Spring being a natural time to think of fresh starts, beginning anew. Throughout history different “leaders” have changed it from one date to another. Many religions and cultures still celebrate a different date for the New Year.
I think many of us would chuckle thinking about resolutions we have made and kept! My record isn’t very good!
However, this year it really struck me what the potential might be, if we could make changes that would provide a fresh start to parts of our lives. What if we took advantage of this quaint custom and did turn it into an opportunity?
Recent events have led many of us to reevaluate all kinds of things. Personally I found myself thinking deeply about living more in the present and letting go of past angers, disappointments, and focusing more on simply being kind.
While I still hope to “give up” a few things, I have decided to focus on “doing”.
My priority this year is to be kind. In big ways and small ways.
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
I don’t think there is a skill to being kind. It’s in all of us. It may be buried, or other responses and actions might be stronger, but it is in us.
I have been working on kindness a little bit this year. I have had some successes, but many more surprises. I am always surprised how quickly I respond with frustration to things beyond my control. That frustration is a form of anger. I can feel my body change when it surfaces. When my body changes because my mind changes, it all becomes a spiral of downward momentum. Then I have a difficult time getting free from it.
Hand in hand with being kind comes being present and being in the here and now, not in the past or future. And that is even harder. I carry disappointments, frustrations, worries from work home with me every day. Sometimes it takes me days to digest them and let them go. I am always thinking and planning one step ahead so I am “prepared”. How can that be bad? Being prepared? But somehow it does fuel the anxiety. If I am being kid to myself, which is the first step to be kind to others, why do I worry, become anxious over things that I have managed to take care of for years and know they are not a big deal? Is it all in the wording……the wording my mind chatter loops endlessly around in my head? Why can’t it just be: “I will stop at the grocery store.”, rather than: “I have to stop at the grocery.” Have to, have to, have to, have to. I will focus on making statements with little or no value regarding things that are……no good or bad, no judgement. Just a fact. By adding the word “have” it becomes a chore or burden.
So I will focus on being present in this one moment. I will be kind, kinder, kindly. I will begin with myself. I will change the mind chatter in my head. I will reach out to others and simply be kind. This is a New Year, a fresh start. I have this opportunity to start over, and allow the kindness that is already inside of me be stronger and more present.
April 28, 2012
Mind chatter is the mind noise that never stops. It is the inner conversation or inner monologue that constantly goes on in the mind.
We are often unaware of this mental noise, because it has become a deeply embedded habit, something we may consider to be just a part of life.
Mind Chatter is like an inner voice that constantly analyzes everything about our lives, surroundings and the people we know. It is a voice in the head that just keeps talking and talking! It starts sometimes before we even open our eyes in the morning making a mental list of what we need to do, and follows us through the day, and is even with us when we close our eyes in bed, wishing something different had been done or said. It happens when we gossip, or think negative thoughts about others.
These thoughts can loop, go round and round, over and over. How lucky we are if this “broken record” thought is a positive one! What a struggle it is if it is a negative thought filled with worry, stress, anger or frustration. How horrible to have that noise chattering away inside our head all day long. We really could do without it!
The first step to quieting this chatter, is to realize it exists! Then we have to sort out if it is our True Self talking, or is it our sub-conscious? Often the cause is fear, in some form: the “what ifs”. This chatter tries to bring some sort of order from the perceived chaos: we have to consider all the options so we will be safer.
When we get wrapped up in this noise, while we are focused on it, listening to it, we are missing out on life going on around us.
We need to stop the Mind Chatter by learning how to stop our unconscious mind’s habit of “running off at the mouth”. Pay attention to what it is saying. If you hear negatives: “I can’t”, “I should, “what will I do?”, stop the dialogue. Make the conscious effort to change your thought process: tell the chatter to “STOP”, say ” I can”,” I am OK”, “I can handle this, I can figure it out”. Take control. We need to repeat this every time the negative chatter gets going, until there is a natural replacement of positive, rather that negative dialogue.
We will always have this mind chatter going on. Our mind loves to be busy. We can, however, change the topic! We have to be careful because when our mind chatters, we listen, and we remember. If our chatter is negative, guess what we remember? Information is continually being recorded and stored for future reference.
Brian Tracey says, “Perhaps the most powerful influence on your attitude and personality is what you say to yourself, and believe. It is not what happens to you, but how you respond internally to what happens to you, that determines your thoughts and feelings and, ultimately, your actions. By controlling your inner dialogue, or “self-talk,” you can begin to assert control over every other dimension of your life.”
Remez Sasson offers these insights on what mind chatter is :
- Thoughts that repeat themselves like a tape that keeps playing the same tune.
- Reliving negative past situations or visualizing fears over and over again.
- Dwelling on the past or fearing the future. This prevents us from enjoying the present. The past is gone, and the future is the product of our present thinking and actions. The only time that exists is now, the present moment.
- Compulsive inner monologue that disturbs our peace and makes the mind busy.
- Never being here. Always thinking on something else, instead of what we are doing now. If we always think on something else we never enjoy the moment.
- Constant analysis of our and other people’s situations, reactions and behavior. Analyzing the past, the future, things we need or want to do, our day, yesterday and the distant past.
- Almost all involuntary thinking and daydreaming are some sort of mental noise. This is often a constant background noise, which often intrudes into foreground in the middle of everything we do.
How do we gain control? Through some hard, thoughtful work and patience.
We have to be aware of this noise. Then we have to understand that it is our brain’s attempt to protect us from the unknown by pretending it knows what will happen. First we have to tell that noise, the chatter, to STOP. Then take the negative thoughts and turn them into positive: “I can’t do this…” to, “ I can do this”.
Breathe, count to 10, sing a favorite verse of song…let your mind know you are not interested in the negative chatter. Learn to “see” the chatter, imagine it written on a blackboard and watch as it is erased and the see the board clear and clean and blank……and then keep the board blank, do not let anything else be written.
We can also work to change the chatter, and make it useful and powerful in a positive way. Begin a routine of beginning your day with positive thoughts. Instead of “oh, I HAVE to take a shower”, turn it into “The hot shower will feel good.” Replace “I have so much to do today”, with “I am going to accomplish a lot today”.
Mid-day, find a few moments and slow down. As thoughts creep in…erase them. Be still. Pat yourself on the back, “I’ve made progress”, “I am handling things well”.
At the end of the day, tell your mind to STOP chattering. When it starts up, divert and recite a poem, sing a song, do a multiplication table! Do not let it get chatting….
Some ideas of how to quiet your mind chatter include this from
- Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Do not make excuses, “I am busy then.”, “I already have plans.” Make a conscious decision to say the absolute truth, or what you actually mean. The absolute truth doesn’t have to be harsh or hurtful, you can do so compassionately and authentically, but firmly. When you own what you say, no one can reject it, even if they don’t like what they hear; because you are telling the truth and you mean it. Make a conscious commitment to yourself to mean everything that you say, and not to make empty promises that you cannot, will not, do not intend to fulfill. Do not tell someone you will call if you know you won’t. Telling the truth prevents the mind from having something to chatter about!
- Don’t say to anyone unless you can say to everyone. “Make a commitment to yourself, that you will not say something to one person, unless you can announce it to the world, to everybody. Make a commitment to stop the spreading of drama and bad energy.”
- Don’t say inside, what you cannot say outside. When the chatter starts, especially when the thought is full of negativity like “I am so stupid”, or “I feel like a failure”, say to yourself, or even out loud: “STOP! From today forward, I choose to let this thought go, for it does not uplift me. I am exposing this thought as being false, for you are not real! From today onward, I am free from this thought.” Whatever thought you are not able to say out aloud to people (anyone), don’t even bother entertaining inside your head. Keep your inner space clean. While you may share your self doubt with others as a means of processing, you would never go around introducing yourself as “stupid” or as a “failure”, so stop your mind chatter from saying it to you.
Don’t let Chatter say it unless it is true, useful or kind. Be conscious of what you say and only say it if any of the following is true:
Is what I’m saying …
- True to me? An authentic statement from my heart?
- Useful or helpful to someone or some situation?
- Kind or compassionate? Such as a compliment, or an offer of help.
Don’t let your spoken words run rampant either. Be conscious of what you say out loud. Your mind chatter will begin to reflect that, and you will not have to battle the mind chatter caused by speaking meaningless, gossipy, hurtful words.
Another interesting site is: http://www.aquietmind.com/2011/09/28/day-1-quiet-mind/
It offers simple, short, day by day suggestions to slow and quiet your mind chatter through attainable steps.
As we change and grow and move towards fulfilling our potential, free from mind chatter that slows us down, we also begin to change those around us. And one by one, the change spreads. You are good, and strong, and kind and of value. Make sure your mind chatter is telling you the same thing, or else tell it to STOP, so that you can GO forward.