When you begin to feel a little unhappy, it’s natural to try and think your way out of the problem of being unhappy. You try to establish what is making you unhappy and then find a solution. In the process, you can easily dredge up past regrets and conjure up future worries. This further lowers your mood. It doesn’t take long before you start to feel bad for failing to discover a way of cheering yourself up. The “inner critic,” which lives inside us all, begins to whisper that it’s your fault, that you should try harder, whatever the cost. You soon start to feel separated from the deepest and wisest parts of yourself. You get lost in a seemingly endless cycle of recrimination and self-judgment; finding yourself at fault for not meeting your ideals, for not being the person you wish you could be.Mark Williams and Danny Penman, Mindfulness: An Eight-Week plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
The one place I am guaranteed never to find God is in my thinking. the author
Most of us live in our thinking about the world, rather than in the world itself. We forever are trying to make sense of the world, of our behavior, of the behavior of those around us. We try to ‘figure things out.’ We spend our time thinking about what we’re going to do, or what we already have done, forever arranging and rearranging the facts to try to get them to come out in a different, happier way.
This is a misuse of the intellect; using it for a purpose for which it is not designed.
The mind is where we take the known and arrange it to its best purpose–planning a trip; scheduling our week or our day; putting together a crib from Ikea. It’s also where we analyze the past in order to understand what happened and why, and learn how to do it better next time–football players and coaches studying game film; cadets at West Point studying Civil War battles; people in 12 step recovery programs writing inventory of their past sexual/romantic relationships/tragedies in order to plan something better for the future.
An NBA guard can’t think his way to the basket. Jean Michel Basquiat did not think his way through a painting. I cannot think my way to happiness.
Yes there is planning, there is study, there is training. The mind plays a part, sometimes to a very great degree. The preparation is absolutely essential to the success of any endeavor. But there comes a jumping-off point where further speculation serves only to take us out of the only place where flow and success can be found – the present moment.
In the present moment, it is not our thinking we are identified with. Rather we are identified with flow, with pattern, with our movement through space, our relationship to the things and people around us, in front of us. We are an ever-changing response to the moment, creatively, joyfully moving into each next unknown moment.
We are designed to live, to create, to experience joy beyond what we can even imagine. The flow of joy and creation is available to us at any time, simply by stepping out of our thinking and into the movement of life itself. Again and again and again. And now. And now. And now.
Today I will notice when I am using the mind for something other than its purpose. I will notice when I talk myself out of asking my friend or lover a question because my mind tells me he will think I’m stupid. I will notice when I think through my conversation over dinner last night for the fourth time, wondering what she meant when she said “____________.” I will notice when my mind starts to tell me every reason I’m not successful and not happy. I will notice these things, and I will step out of the speculating mind and into present moment awareness; into the loving embrace of nature itself; into the presence of the unfailing guidance of the Divine. Into the simple moment to moment to moment of my day.