One of the reasons I love to listen to my Eckhart Tolle audio CDs so much is that he helps me understand that I am not my mind… I am not my thinking mind, I am the silent watcher behind it. What a blessed relief to realize this!
My thinking mind is what keeps me fearful, and being trapped in it is torture. Not understanding that I can learn to stop “listening in” to the nonstop mental chatter is the reason I have had so much mental suffering in my life. This is not only true for me but for all mankind.
Although some people feel their suffering acutely, as I have, many are only aware of it as a pervasive feeling of low level irritation, short-temperedness, or a feeling of lack or incompleteness.
I have had a lot of anxiety in my life, so learning to break free from the prison of the thinking mind has been a real joy for me…
As early as my 20s, I remember being plagued with negative racing thoughts. Throughout my young adult life I sought out therapy to help me with this. I had some success with hypnosis, but it didn’t really last. I was also prescribed medication, but being numbed out was not the answer for me either.
Eckhart Tolle teaches some beautifully simple yet profound ways to quiet the mind and stop thinking. Well, you can’t really stop the mind from thinking, because that is what the mind does, but you sure can learn to not listen in and believe the stories it tells you 🙂 The cool thing is once you get the hang of it, through practicing any of the strategies below, it’s really not that hard to do at all.
The way out of the mental suffering of the mind is not through the mind, but through being. You can’t think your way out of thinking. When we learn to quiet the mind and not indulge in useless repetitive thinking, we become free of the mind’s grip on us, and can feel the sweet freedom of inner peace.
Here are ways to quiet the mind and get out of thinking a la the wonderful Eckhart Tolle:
When I spend a few minutes in silent meditation- whether that be sitting on a cushion in my living room, or driving silently in my car- I can center myself and get back to feeling peaceful.
Meditation is wonderful, but obviously it isn’t possible for most of us to just sit there and contemplate all day. (If only 😉 …) However even a few minutes helps, and daily meditation practice is a great way to give yourself a few minutes of peace and calm.
Once I am showered and ready to go in the morning, I set the timer on my iPhone for 6 minutes and sit in silence. I focus on my breath or say prayers of loving kindness. This short practice calms me and helps me stay grounded as I start my day. I’ve been meditating since last summer and really love it.
Feeling your inner body.
This is where you connect with and bring your consciousness into the sense of aliveness in your body. It is easier to do with your hands and feet, especially at first. You take your attention and put it on the feeling of aliveness in your hands, for example, and feel their subtle warmth and tingling. If you work at it, you can learn to feel the aliveness starting from your feet and working up to your head, and then go back again from your head down to your feet.
Gradually you work up to feeling your inner aliveness throughout your body all at once, as a total energy field. Your life energy is powerful and vast in depth, so the more you practice, the deeper you can feel it.
The practice of feeling your inner body only takes a few minutes, and you can do it anywhere. It is a really cool way to stop the mind from thinking and get back to inner stillness. Inner body awareness is a portal to peace.
Become aware of space.
Become aware of the vast empty space wherever you are. Space is what makes up the majority of the room you’re in. Space is silent, unmoving and peaceful. Think about the empty space of the universe. Think about stepping outside on a clear night and gazing up at the stars. Notice how when you gaze at the vastness of the Universe, your mind stops, almost as if it is just in reverence of it. Now that is a beautiful feeling indeed! As Eckhart says, it is the “body of God.”
Focus on the NOW.
Giving your full attention to what you are doing NOW. Make your life your spiritual practice. Focus your attention on what you are doing right in this moment. When you are in the shower, for example, notice all the sensations and experience just being in the shower. Feel the warm water running over your body, experience the smell of the soap, the feel of the washcloth as it goes over different parts of your body, etc. Feel it fully with your senses, the sights, the sounds, the smells, etc. Make the shower the focus of your attention, instead of focusing on all the things you will do once the shower is over…
If you notice yourself drifting off in thought, (as you naturally will, the mind is like a river and it sweeps us up in it), just catch yourself, and then gently bring your focus back to the shower and the present moment.
I have been experimenting with focusing on the NOW when I am doing chores that I usually don’t like, such as folding clothes or cleaning the bathrooms. What a nice change to have a few minutes of peace during these activities, instead of being all sullen and irritated and wishing I wasn’t doing them! 🙂
If you’re lucky enough to be outside, appreciate being there and watch nature. Notice the tree, the grass, the sky. Feel the cold on your skin, or the warmth of the sun. Use your senses. See the little bird fly by. Listen to the sounds- there’s a car in the distance. Practice being silent and just watching and noticing.
When I take Buddy for a walk, I like to watch him and how his little ears perk up and how he looks for squirrels and how happy he is just to be out walking. How he likes to investigate and smell everything. What a great little teacher he is for living in the present! 🙂
I hope you will try one or more of these simple strategies yourself – and see if you don’t mind trading in your mental mind chatter for a little taste of peace and well-being!
xo, Lisa Arcelia
Thank you for reading!
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