“The greatest addiction which we never get to read about in the newspapers is the addiction to thinking.” – Eckhart Tolle
Thinking is the mind, the mind is the ego. I’m not one of those people that states that the ego is negative or something we need to lose or get rid of.
For practical purposes the ego is essential, but in very small doses and on a smaller scale.
The ego’s job is to keep us alive, the ego is the mind- body element of us – but we are much more than that.
I’m a thinker, I’m heady, I’m an Aries and an INFJ which means more of my life is spent in my head than the majority of people.
However, over the years I realized I spend way too much time thinking, and not enough time being present in the moment.
Every time we think, our conscious presence goes into the background, sort of like when we sleep at night. This can be a bad thing when if we are driving or operating heavy machinery, not so much if we are sitting in a comfy arm chair.
Too much thinking places us somewhere else other than where we are.
If we think about past events, we are mentally projecting into the past and our awareness goes with it – same goes for the future. Does this mean we can’t think about the past or plan for the future? Of course we can for practical matters.
The mind is a funny thing, when we think about something our body reacts as if it is really happening. If we think of chewing on a piece of lemon we may salivate or make a funny face.
The reason many feel so separate from others is because of identification with the mind. Being a mind with limited thoughts and beliefs is what separates us from each other.
Transcending the mind and becoming fully present with full awareness will be our greatest liberator. Just remember, don’t make your thoughts your enemy because you will only strengthen them. Just become aware of when your thoughts are becoming excessive and use what I write in this post to alleviate your excessive thinking.
How to be present without thinking
First off, it is nearly impossible to completely silence thoughts and inner dialogue, but we can learn how to make them into mere background noise instead of our primary reality.
However, we can place our attention on something around us like a picture and just focus on it.
Meditation helps to keep you focused in the present moment. Most confusion with meditation is that people believe you go into an altered state of consciousness. This is true if being present feels like an altered state.
One technique I learned from Eckhart Tolle is while being present – allow thoughts to arise but do not follow them.
Let’s say you are practicing being present. You can do this whenever or wherever, especially if you are sitting down – you can also bring your presence practice with you while cleaning dishes or folding laundry too.
Just be focused in the present moment. Allow thoughts to arise, but do not follow them because one thought leads to another and another.
Do not let your thoughts pull you into unconsciousness or unconscious reactions. You need to become aware when you are thinking and also of your reaction patterns.
Staying present, above your thinking is your greatest ally in this world.
One neat trick I do to help me with my presence practice is placing a rubber band on my wrist like I am wearing a watch.
Whenever I begin to fade into unconscious thinking I snap the rubber band against my wrist to pull me back into the present moment.
Food and drink can also help or hurt your ability to stay present. A glass of Merlot can relax your mind and perhaps allow you to be more fully present in the moment. A bottle of Merlot will completely obliterate your ability to be present so choose wisely.
Building your ability to be present is a lot like building muscle. It takes time, and consistent practice to become strong in this area.
Once you improve, you may begin to notice gaps or space from one thought to the next. It’s the space, it’s the gap that you want to build on and place your attention on.
It’s also a lot easier to be present when you practice a healthy lifestyle like eating foods in their natural state and exercising which will help to oxygenate the body and remove toxins.
I do notice humans appear to think more when they are alone too much. Here are a couple of things you can do to alleviate that.
- Be around people
- Go for a walk, run or bike ride
- Read a book at a book store or coffee house
- Watch a good movie or TV show (Not for too many hours)
- Call someone
- EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique
- Any activity that gets you connected to your body and engaged in the physical world
Eckhart Tolle suffered what appeared to be an almost complete mental breakdown due to the amount of mental noise in his head created by his life situation stress.
After a really bad night of mental chatter, Eckhart had an epiphany; he said to himself that night that he couldn’t live with himself anymore. Than he asked, “who is this self that I can’t live with anymore?”
He then realized the “self” he was asking about was the mind made self that lived in his thoughts. The constant mental noise in his head that was often worried and anxious about the future.
After that night he dropped out of school and spent about nine months going to a park daily, sitting on a bench and observing life.
The experience completely changed Eckhart’s brain chemistry, neuro-associations, who he really was, and the direction of his life.
It is very common to believe that all problems are mental only – all in your head. This is not true. Disease/imbalance in the body, lacking essential nutrients and excessive, chronic stress can all make it very difficult to reduce mental noise and stay present in the moment.
This is why I recommend going to your Primary Care Physician and having a thorough exam done including blood work, thyroid screening, allergy tests, glucose testing and internal parasite examination.
Our bodies are finely tuned machines and much like a fine sports car; just a speck of dust in the engine can create poor performance.