“To realize that you are not your thoughts is when you begin to awaken spiritually” (Eckhart Tolle).
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I was so upset. I sat down with my sister for lunch to tell her what was going on. I was actually pretty ashamed to verbalize what I had been struggling with. I was having a lot of anxiety about negative, fearful thoughts in my head. The thoughts in my head were causing me to lose sleep. These negative thoughts were running rampant. I was not controlling these thoughts, they were controlling me. They were like weeds in a flower garden that were not maintained. The more energy I spent focusing on how much I wanted to stop them, the more frequent they became! It was a never ending cycle. I was becoming so drained and I didn’t know what to do. I felt defeated and helpless. I was allowing my thoughts and their associated emotions to control every aspect of my day. I felt trapped.
A few months later I stumbled upon the author, Eckhart Tolle. I decided to read a couple of his books. Eckhart Tolle’s, The Power of Now and A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose were life-changing books that helped me realize my thoughts are not connected or apart of the true me, my inner being. “The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not the possessing entity (your thoughts) . The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of intelligence. You also realize that all things that truly matter–beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace–arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken“. (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now).
The Monkey Mind
Have you ever had a strong urge to do something, you decide to do it, then your mind spends the rest of the day making you feel bad about it? This happened to me the other day when I decided to pick up a cheeseburger, large fry, and massive coke from McDonalds. Before I made the decision to do this, my thoughts were convincing me how delicious the cheeseburger would be, how hot and salty the fries would taste, and how fizzy and sweet the coke would be. Immediately after I ate the meal, my thoughts started to convince me that I made a horrible decision, and I should have just ate the left overs from dinner the night before. Wait, first my thoughts were saying to go get the fast food and now I should regret my decision?! My thoughts took a complete 360! It’s seems completely ridiculous when you really observe the behavior of your mind. Many people live with a tormentor in their head that continuously attacks and punishes them and drains the of vital energy. It is the cause of untold misery and unhappiness” (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now).
“Zen Buddhists refer to the constant chatter of the mind as monkey mind. The Buddha held that the human mind is filled with drunken monkeys flinging themselves from tree branches, jumping around, and chattering nonstop. He meant that our minds are in constant motion” (Marelisa Fabrega). Thoughts consist of jumping from thought to thought from what you’re going to do next, to fear, anxiety, stress, judgements of self and others, and confusion. “We all have monkey minds, Buddha said, with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for attention. Fear is an especially loud monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong” (BJ Gallager, HuffPost).
According to Newsweek, “the average person will typically have more than 6,000 thoughts in a single day, new research into the human brain suggests.” Most of us are jumping from one thought to the next with no rest in between. All day, everyday. It makes me exhausted just thinking about it! Often, people spend much of their thoughts on obsessing about past mistakes, stressing about the future, or thinking about what they plan on doing next after what they are currently doing. Before we know it, many people spend their entire lives looking to the next moment or stressing about what they are thinking about instead of soaking in what they are currently experiencing, right here, right now. I noticed I was doing that in the shower just a few minutes ago; I was thinking about how I was going to blow dry my hair and then get cozy in bed to type this post. I had to stop my thoughts and take myself to the present moment, awaken my five senses, and allow myself to soak in the hot shower. I was allowing my thoughts to wander, preventing me from enjoying the present moment.
You Are Not Your Thoughts
If you wish to truly live a life of peace, the number one step is to realize that you are not your thoughts but an observer of your thoughts. The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not ‘the thinker” (Eckhart Tolle). This was a true life changing moment for me when I realized this. I was so attached and controlled by my thoughts that I thought they were the true me. I was convinced that if I was having negative thoughts, I must be a bad person deep down. By thinking this, I was only adding more energy to these negative thoughts, which resulted in me feeling even worse. “Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them” (Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, Awakening Your Life’s Purpose). My thoughts are not me, they are not who I am in my being. They arise and they fall, but they are not of my essence.
How to be liberated from your thoughts:
- Begin listening to the thoughts inside your head as an observer.
- “Do not judge or condemn what you hear” (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now).
- Focus on observing your thoughts, and allowing them to dissolve without reaction.
- Bring yourself back to the present moment by activating your 5-senses into what you are currently experiencing. I will get more as well as other tips and tricks to help with non-stop chatter in your mind in another blog.
Let’s Wrap Up
The science is now showing that the brain can be rewired from incessant thoughts with practice, now that is good news! I truly believe everyone deals with anxiety and stress from nonstop mind chatter but most do not talk about it. I hope this helps lessen the chatter in your mind so you can experience the beauty and peace of your inner being that arises like a bright light out of the darkness when you stop giving all of your focus and attention to incessant thoughts. You’ll soon realize: there is the voice, and here I am listening to it, watching it. This “I am” realization, the sense of your own presence, is not a thought. It arises from beyond the mind (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now).
Click the links below to view The Power of Now or A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose on Amazon.
More on this topic to come!