NOTE #3.1 | The Thinking Mind vs The Present Mind
PART I | What Is The Mind?
“An interesting thing to observe while you’re here especially, but during the rest of your life also, is where your attention is at any given time or more precisely, in the present moment (which is all there is); and whether your attention is determined by all kinds of factors or whether you have some influence on where your attention goes.” - Eckhart Tolle, Author of ‘The Power of Now’
The here and now.
In our last note, we spoke about the turning points that wake us into a new state of awareness and inadvertently create a shift in our consciousness.
A shift that instantly divides in us – the ‘thinking’ mind from the ‘present’ mind.
So, what is the mind?
For centuries, philosophers, mystics and psychologists from all over the world have created theories and books around this complex subject, yet the mystery remains – what is this 24/7 dialogue and library of memory that encompasses our being and feels as if it’s in our brain everyday?
This clearly deserves its own note and in-depth discussion..
But for now - given that we haven’t been able to identify with certainty (or an x-ray) what the mind is, looks like and where it lives, we can collect from different dialogues in time that the mind is considered to be somewhat of the “seat of human consciousness”, in other words, the energy that perceives and embodies the Spirit or essence of a being. You can think of it as the integrated “thinking-feeling” part of yourself that is correlated, yet seemingly separable from the body.
As far as history goes, in Old English, the word “mind” originates from the term gemynd which translates specifically as ‘to think, re-member’.
At a glance, I see this definition and ask myself –'but what has been forgotten? What is there to find? To put back together?', as if this was a game, a puzzle with missing pieces...
All of sudden an old (somewhat outdated) phrase I've heard for so long rings in –"to find myself". Growing up this seemed to be a theme in many books and movies. A theme I didn’t quite understand or fully relate to yet because I, in my head as a teenager of course, was ‘never lost’, what did these people mean by that?
Re-membering the parts of our-Self
In hopes of connecting the dots and succeeding in this mysterious journey of ‘finding my-Self’ (that which seems unclear to us), it’s important we highlight the second main character of this scenario → our thoughts (also known as “the chatter or voices in our head”). The different versions of ourselves (our forgotten and wounded selves) speaking their piece (sometimes or always simultaneously), participating in every move we make and every plan that has no space in our already existing to-do lists. Welcomed or not – they’re always there.
Similar to the nature of the mind, there’s not much attestation to the source of our thoughts either.
Referring back to the olden days, where the word thought came from þoht, or geþoht, which meant "to conceive of in the mind, to consider"; we can imagine that our thoughts are like strings of energy constantly forming, accumulating and flowing in the playground of our mind.
And if you’re wondering how much energetic space these thoughts take up of our attention span (and memory), the National Science Foundation (NSF) has stated that ‘the average person has about 12,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day, and that 80% are mainly negative (focused on only two things - worry about the past or worry about the future); and that 95% of these thoughts are repetitive from the day before.’
Our mind can be our worst enemy…
...if we let it.
It almost goes without saying that negative thought patterns are the initiators of great stress, anxiety, depression and anger that ultimately affect our physical health in one way or another.
But where do these come from?
How can we dis-member these negative patterns and behaviors?
Just like any muscle or organ in our body that we’re constantly working at keeping healthy, exercised and nourished; our mind is also (and probably the most) vital (and invisible) muscle or instrument that we have. It requires the same care and attention in order to fine tune and use to the best of its ability.
A few powerful tools for keeping the mind healthy (or in other words – quieting the mind –) are:
- Conscious Breathing: paying attention to the rhythm of our breath while purposefully inhaling and exhaling at gentle speeds that allow us to just focus on centering ourselves again.
- Listening to music: melodic music (specifically monotone instrument sounds) have been clinically proven to demonstrate great immediate healing and soothing effects in people that suffer high levels of anxiety and mental illness. Using music to tune the heart.
- Physical Exercise: going for a walk or a run can immediately shift our minds to a calmer and quieter place. Activities like these that consist of doing repetitive and steady movements help release endorphins – chemicals that make us feel good and can help improve our mood, focus, and sleep; and allow all the tension to melt away.
- Hang out in N A T U R E: Mother Earth heals all.
- Meditating: practicing mental stillness in any activity that provokes in you a focused state of awareness, like in cooking, writing, drawing, knitting, etc – or being able to just sit and breathe in a relaxed environment, helps expand your mental space while slowly pushing out intruding thoughts. A common misconception people have is that meditation is something you have to “learn”. *More on this in our following Notes– ** RECOMMENDATION: Here is great 5 minute video on “How To Clear Your Mind When You Meditate” by Abraham Hicks
In Part 3.2 of this Note, we dive deeper into where these obstructive thoughts come from and why, introducing ‘The Thinking Mind’.