Hello my fellow human Beings:Just stop a minute (or a few) and do nothing. Stop reading for a minute or two and just be. Observe.
Notice what happens in your mind when you stop, do nothing and just are.
Is your mind filled with a rush of thoughts?
- Has a minute passed yet?
- What am I doing?
- This is a waste of time.
- I have so much to do. I need to pick up bananas and rice milk at the store.
… and on and on and on ….lost in a sea of endless thoughts.
Or is your mind aware?
- Aware of your surroundings?
- Aware of what’s going on inside your body – your breathing, your sensations?
- Aware of your essence?
What is that default place that your mind goes to when there is a gap, a pause, a conscious period of not doing?
John Kabat-Zinn is the founder and director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and creator of a mindfulness-based stress reduction program offered at medical centres, hospitals and health care clinics around the world. In his book, Meditation For Beginners, he writes about the mind’s usual default setting and where we want to adjust that setting over time. He notes:
“What is unfolding when nothing much of anything is going on with you? …For most of us, usually it is thinking. Thinking is going on. It takes lots of different forms.
Thinking seems to constitute our ‘default setting’ rather than awareness. It is a good thing to notice because in this way, we might slowly shift from this automatic reverting to thinking over and over again to another mode of mind that may stand us in far better stead, namely awareness itself. Perhaps over time we can adjust our default setting to one of greater mindfulness rather than of mindlessness and being lost in thought.”
I know this is easier said than done at times.
When we are tired, hungry, thirsty or sick, our minds tend to slip quickly to the patterns of mindless thinking, eternal judging, worrying, re-living, and ego chatter. The old CDs on endless loops play the same song over and over again and we react to every visitor at our sense doors. Our minds are lost in thought and we can zone out of reality and be engulfed in our ego-driven fantasy worlds.
So how do we adjust our mind’s default setting away from mindless thinking towards mindful awareness?
Well, this requires some mind re-training exercises to get our mind’s muscle into shape to be more toned, tuned, alert and aware.
This is where meditation comes in. Meditation provides great mind-toning exercises to build our awareness muscle.
By daily practice of breath awareness meditation, we learn to focus our minds on an object other than the endless thought patterns. By being mindful of our breath and returning our focus again and again to our breath, coming in and going out, we are retraining our minds to slowly become more aware, instead of being easily consumed by thoughts.
So the next time you find yourself commuting on public transit to work or waiting in line at the grocery store, and when you wake up and before you go to bed, find the time each day to be still, to meditate, to connect and become more aware of your essence, your Beingness, what’s really going on inside and out. For in so doing, you will take the steps to adjust your mind’s default setting to more awareness and you will live more abundantly!