Lost In My Thoughts
Up until my mid-30’s, I was identified with my own thoughts. I had no separation from the incessant self-chatter that was constantly running through my mind.
Then I read the book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and my life changed instantly.
I remember pausing and putting the book down after reading a specific line on a page. It was a section of the book where Tolle shared the succinct and profound wisdom that “you are not your thoughts”.
Upon reading those words I immediately exhaled a breath that felt like I had been holding in for decades. I also felt a welcomed space had opened up within me.
That was my very first taste of consciousness. It was a fleeting hint of consciousness, but it propelled me onward to seek out a more spiritual path in life.
The Racing Nature Of Thoughts
Our minds and the thoughts that get produced there can be confusing and overwhelming. Thoughts can come firing out at a rapid and alarming pace.
Thinking can solve problems and be a wellspring of creativity but our thoughts can also be an impediment to experiencing true joy in life. There seems to be a fine line in our minds when it comes to being either wildly creative or downright self-sabotaging.
At times our thoughts are downright disturbing. Without awareness, or the ability to simply observe these thoughts without judgment, we can drown in them.
For me, the biggest paradigm shift in life came from simply reading the line “you are not your thoughts”. In an instant, I embodied that notion. Just finally realizing that concept sparked a change for me.
I had years of work to do after that and I still am nowhere near arrived as some sort of Zen master, but the light of consciousness was lit and my desire to walk a more spiritual path was set in motion.
I know the word spiritual can be a loaded word these days and can potentially conjure up some defensive reactions, but I use it in the most secular way imaginable. For me, being spiritual is trying to live life in a thoughtful, connected, conscious, and curious manner. There is no dogma or doctrine attached to my spiritual quest.
If you have been living life caught up in your own head and running yourself down through your own detrimental self-talk, you can break free from it. Hopefully, just even gleaming some awareness that you are not your thoughts can awaken something inside of you like it did for me.
That may not be enough, though, which is alright if so. There are steps you can take to calm your mind and disentangle from your thoughts:
Go outside for a brisk 20-minute walk, but leave the headphones and the music behind. I typically walk for exercise while listening to music but this is a different circumstance here.
I want you to be out in the world, picking up the sounds of life around you, and minimizing additional sensory input to your brain.
If you are like me, my typical day is filled with data streaming into my brain all day long from multiple inputs. I have my work computer which I perform tasks on, I have my iPad streaming music or podcasts, and then my phone which I am often checking multiple email accounts and texts.
You and more specifically your mind needs downtime from data overload. A brisk 20-minute walk free from headphones can allow your mind that time to disconnect and rest. There is also something very powerful about combining the physical activity of a brisk walk along with resting and refreshing the capacity of your mind.
I feel the combined impact of the physical walking and the retreat from data input can allow a more present mind to prevail. When thoughts arise while walking just observe those thoughts without judgment and try your best to let them go.
You can and will begin to change your mental states of being by incorporating frequent walks into your life.
I purposely lead off the suggestions for calming a thought ridden mind with walking due to the ease of accessing a walking routine and the lack of any stigma attached to walking. Meditation, on the other hand, can also conjure up some defensive reactions in folks just like the previously mentioned word spiritual.
People can be leery and downright put off by meditation, and maybe even more so put off by the vocal proponents of the practice. From religious and mystical overtones to sitting still like a crossed legged pretzel, people can get turned off to meditation prior to even giving it a chance.
Meditation does not need to be built up as anything more than giving your mind a break for 10 minutes a day. That is it. The practice can grow to be all sorts of personal and beautiful things for you, but that is well beyond the needs of this discussion.
I talk about meditation often because of what it has brought into my life. I am nowhere near perfect or a Buddha-like entity, but meditation has brought a level of personal peace and professional success like I have never experienced before in my life.
Meditation allows you to calm your mind so you can more easily observe and let go of thoughts. You can also create space within yourself for more creative and beneficial thoughts to arise. All of my will and desire for self-care and growth in life flows from my meditation practice.
For help getting started, check out our 7 Tips to Help Jumpstart And Maintain A Meditation Practice video:
Floating is like a meditation session on steroids. The key here is having all sensory input to your brain completely shut off, sight, sound, and physical motions included.
The heavily salted water does all the work in keeping you afloat, so your body gets to a near zero gravitational state providing for your mind and correlating systems the most optimal atmosphere for calming.
I am always impressed and amazed at the positive and calming effect from floating that lingers for upwards of days after the float session has ended. Floating puts me in the most peaceful, mildly euphoric, and non-reactive state imaginable.
Finding Inner Peace
Just that initial awareness of the concept that we are not our thoughts is sometimes enough of a paradigm shift to send someone off into a different lane of life. I have found, though, that my initial glimpse of consciousness has required dedication and proactive routines to further maintain, cultivate, and expand its boundless rewards.
Thoughts will never cease from flowing in our minds but there are ways for you to detangle from them. You deserve a life that is joyful and free from the mental trap of identifying with your own thoughts. Take some sensible and proactive steps towards some daily self-care and give yourself the gift of inner peace.