The discovery of a novel or relatively new idea or approach originates only from a still and quiet mind.
Thoughts are stale. All thoughts originate from past information and events. Nothing fresh arises from stale and useless thinking. When a person is asleep in thought, there is a very limited store of knowledge to glean from. When a person is outside of thought and directly in contact with life, he has universal intelligence at his disposal.
Some people are naturally more creative than others. Unknowingly, they have discovered the power of stepping outside of thought. Their insights and ideas are bright, unusual, fresh, different and shape the world we live in.
Schoolteachers and university professors have devoted their life to learning and teaching, yet they produce very few original or creative works. Universities are filled with thousands of students writing PhDs and masters theses, yet nobody reads them. They are filed away and occasionally read by other students writing a PhD. They are a waste of paper. Nobody reads them because they are stale. They contain regurgitated information from the past.
The original works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Yeats, Joyce, Beckett and others were not produced from stale and repetitive thinking of the mind. Universities and schools cannot take credit for their works. These masters could put their minds aside and allow their consciousness to become one with the universe. By tapping into this intelligence, their works were born. Develop your creative capacity by staying out of thought. Allow thought to drop and allow stillness to enter. Watching the breath, feeling the inner body and connecting to life opens the floodgates for creative ideas. Original ideas are no longer an effort but result from a beautiful unfolding and tapping into the ether.
A STILL OR NOISY MIND IN THE WORKPLACE
During my university years, I spent one summer in the beautiful town of Uppsala Sweden working as a dishwasher. The kitchen was a busy place and served countless meals. One interesting observation was the state of minds of two chefs.
One chef would arrive and within minutes, he would be stressed. Meal tickets would be missed. Orders would be late and food would return cold. The chef would be working extremely hard but yet all of this happened. The kitchen was a mess.
Another chef would arrive to just as busy a shift. This chef remained calm, serving the same number of dishes. Seldom was food returned. The waitresses were happy as food was served on time and their tips were good. Both chefs received the same training and had about the same number of years of experience. What differentiated one chef from the other was his state of mind. The first chef’s mind was overcrowded with thoughts, resulting in divided attention. A small percentage of his attention was actually on preparing the food while the remaining 90% was on a never-ending train of thought. What is the next dish? Do I have the ingredients? What the hell am I doing here? Another order in, how will I cope? How will I manage another order in?
A waitress returns with a cold sirloin steak. Pick it up, slap it on the floor a few times, scrape it off, place it in the microwave and send it back to the customer. To hell with that customer. Another order in, when is my shift over? I want to get out of this god-forsaken place. Another order in? Well, to hell with this.
The second chef was in the flow with a mind concentrated on preparing food. His mind was still and calm, which produced good concentration for the task at hand.
As he worked, he concentrated on whatever dishes he was making at that time. This allowed him to devote his full attention, resulting in less mistakes and higher quality. Incidentally, not only was the quality superior, it was also more efficient than the rushed and chaotic approach of the first chef.
Some people naturally have a still mind. Everybody has the capacity to develop a still mind. A still mind is reflective in anything you do. Only a still mind produces quality. You develop a still mind through meditation, feeling your inner body or following your breath.
Concentration can be regarded as the ability to hold attention on an object or subject without internal distraction. Masters of any discipline have excellent concentration. The late George Best performed his game in the flow and without thought. Tiger Woods meditates and this is reflected on how focused he is during a game. Even if he has a bad shot, he has the capacity to control his mind and not allow this to affect the rest of his game.
Creative people have the capacity to concentrate and move, by choice, from periods of thought to no thought.
Poor concentration occurs when your mind is bombarded with one thought after another. For example, while reading a thought will interrupt your capacity to follow the words every few seconds. By the end of the page, you will have forgotten much of what you have read. Worrying destroys your concentration, as your ability to focus is replaced by clouded thought. A child labelled with attention deficit disorder will constantly fidget and move about in parallel to the activity of her mind.
No matter what you do in life, concentration is paramount. If you are unable to hold your attention, your work will be substandard and of poor quality.
A person doing a task with an active mind is more concerned with getting to the end of the job and finishing it than on paying attention to the job itself. As this person does his work, 90% of his attention is on getting to the end of the task and only 10% is on focusing on the job. As he does his job, he will be rushed – in line with his mental commentary. He will miss parts, make mistakes, have poor attention to detail and complete the work to a substandard level. In some instances, he will start the job and move on to another job before even completing the first.
Look at the quality of work from people with an active mind.
As you read this book, watch how many times your mind wanders. Good concentration is about being able to fix one’s attention on something with unwavering thought for many minutes. Poor concentration is when one’s mind can hold its attention for just a few seconds.
The more thoughts you have running through your head, the less concentration you have. The less concentration you have, the poorer your ability to hold your attention on something for a certain period. Improve your concentration by taking back control of your mind by reducing your breathing, following your breath or keeping your attention on your inner body.
YOU KNOW ALL OF THIS!
Happiness cannot be bought
Without a peaceful mind, your life is nothing. If it is agitated with thousands of thoughts and incessant worry, then it does not matter what cars, partner, money, house, job or title you have.
You fear for your financial future. You worry about it. Will I get by? Will I survive? You decide to do something, so you spend thirty years of your life in stress to reach financial security. Finally, you have arrived. Yet, your mind continues. You continue to worry. You worry about your health. You worry about the neighbours and what they think. You worry about your children. You worry about the unknown.
You worry when you are unsecure. You worry when you are secure.
Security does not bring about a peaceful mind. Only a peaceful mind brings about a peaceful mind.
Your mind is priority. Only with a peaceful and quiet mind will you enjoy life. If you work in a highly paid but stressful job, you might achieve certain material wealth, but is this at the expense of a quiet mind? You have achieved success but at what price?
Material wealth and titles are helpful, but all have limitations. Wealthy people are in and out of rehab, suffer from depression and fear of the future that at some point all of their achievements will disappear. An attractive person who depends on their looks will be some day unattractive. What happens to the wealthy person when the stock market crashes? Everything is subject to change. There is nothing that we can achieve in object form that will satisfy us permanently. I’m not saying that you should not attempt to improve your lot.
I am saying that you should know thyself by observing what is taking place in your mind and how it affects both you and others around you. Find yourself.
Material wealth is out of reach of most people living in the Eastern world. And yet, these people are lighter and happier that their Western counterparts. What is their secret?
The secret is the importance that the Eastern world places on the cultivation of a still mind. A quiet mind translates into lightness and happiness. A noisy mind translates into heaviness and unhappiness.
Achieve the nice car and house. Work in a top job. Yes, these are nice and make our lifestyle a little easier. However, they are secondary. What is primary is the extent to which you live outside of thought. You are entirely responsible for this and have a great deal of control over it.
Your true self is the only aspect that is constant. It is does not change and remains the same regardless of what happens in the external environment. Tap into the real you by dropping the thought and living your life free from the filters of conditioning. Take off your sunglasses and see the light.
Feel the inner body. Reduce your breathing!
Are you generating peace or misery within yourself?
We need to have peace within ourselves before we can be at peace with others. How can you have peace with others when you are not at peace with yourself? Know thyself, not just at an intellectual level but at an experiential level. Observe yourself. Are you generating peace or misery within yourself?
If you make the entire atmosphere around you tense, you are subjecting everyone you meet to the same agitation that takes place in your own mind. When you generate negativity in your mind, you are bound to suffer. When your mind is peaceful and pure, you enjoy the kingdom of heaven within yourself.
Recognise how your mind affects the body and how emotions of the body affect the mind.
If you are angry with an enemy, you are the first victim.
If you are jealous of someone else, you are the first victim.
If you hate someone else, you are the first victim.
If you seek revenge from someone else, you are the first victim.
These are the fundamental laws of life. If your mind is still, pure and free from tension, anger, animosity and jealousy, then life rewards you.
A prisoner convicted for many years can spend a lot of time thinking about getting revenge on the police officer who arrested him, the witness who testified against him, the judge who convicted him. But during that time, he is making his life a misery.
The more you think about revenge or hating your enemy, the more your body gets tense and the more your stomach gets tied in a knot. You cannot have negative thoughts about someone else without these same thoughts having a negative effect on yourself.
You will be very surprised to see how situations sort themselves out when you are present with time. You will know what to do and can act without looking through thought. Problems do not sort themselves out by constant thinking and struggling.
I am not saying that you should do nothing and allow someone to walk all over you. If you need to challenge somebody, wait until the time is right. Don’t challenge them when you are full of anger, because whatever you say in anger you will regret afterwards. Challenge them if necessary when you are still and present.
When the time is right, meet with the other person. Drop all prior thoughts of them and speak the facts. Explain the situation. By dropping all thought, you will remain calm and still. This is very powerful.
Finally, when you are present with time and connected with the greater intelligence of life, negative situations do not occur to the same extent. Life gets softer.
“I am the only person in the world I should like to know thoroughly.”
Everything happens in the present. Nothing happens outside of the present. The present is the only thing that matters. When you pay good attention to your breath, to your inner body and to your five senses to the exclusion of thought, you are present. Whenever your attention is on your mind,you are out of presence.
CHOOSE LIFE OR CHOOSE THOUGHT
We really need to choose life on a moment to moment to moment basis. Keep asking yourself over and over again: are you wrapped up in thoughts or are you connecting with the reality of what is going on around you? It is that simple.
Relationships and thought are a good example. When we first meet our partners, life is a laugh, full of joy and fun. Over time we begin to better get to know our partners. We can often lose sight of their good points and start to dwell on their bad points.
We focus on the habits of the other person that annoy us: the coffee maker is always left out, the toilet seat is always up, clothes are not put away, he/she spends too much money, is too tight with money, wastes electricity, is obsessed about wasting electricity, likes to party too much, won’t go out at all, watches TV too much, buys too much junk food, won’t let himself go, has no interest in others, have little in common. We start to analyse and dwell on the differences and we run them over and over in our mind. We forget about our partner’s good points as the bad points take over. Then, we meet our partners and see him or her through this collection of thought. We begin to argue and tension arises. Emotions run high and we get upset with each other.
This is a reflection of the mind. Little habits that before were endearing are now the cause of marital and relationship issues.
If your relationship has issues, then the next time you see that person, see him or her as if for the very first time. If you were not looking through the past, things would be different. People running on a train of thought think negatively about their relationships all the time. Then, when they see the person, they look through what they have been thinking about. How could you have a good relationship by looking through so much junk?
If you are not happy, you are spending too much time thinking. If you don’t get on with members of the opposite sex, you are spending too much time thinking. If you hate your job, you are spending too much time thinking. If you feel unattractive, you are spending too much time thinking. If you think you are God’s gift to women, you are spending too much time thinking. You are creating problems from your thoughts. If you just let your thoughts subside, you would have far fewer problems.
The answer is to not analyse the other person. Don’t look through your collection of thoughts. Don’t have a preconceived idea of him or her. See and really see. Hear and really listen. Feel and really feel. You will sense freedom when you get in touch with life, as life is the prime substance behind everything. The real world is life itself, not a collection of thoughts.
Some people never put down their thoughts, even for just a short while. These people completely miss out on life.
If you don’t like your job, do it without thought. Don’t let your mind into analyse it and turn your workplace into a living hell. I spent a couple of years hating a job. I thought about it incessantly. All this does is get you down and keeps you trapped in the job. The more you think about how much you don’t like your job, the less room you have for a solution to enter.
Very few thoughts will bother you if you are there step by step. Don’t run on a collection of thoughts that you think it is. Following time step by step involves no thought. As time passes, go with time. Don’t think of the future or worry about the past. The past is exactly where it is – in the past. There is little you can do to change it.
Thoughts are imagined as if they are real, but they are not real at all. Thoughts are stale. They are based on past conditioning and programs. But life is fluid and ever changing. You cannot get answers for something that is fluid by delving into old thoughts.
Feel your inner body. Reduce your breathing!
I CANNOT STOP THINKING
You might say that this all makes sense but it is impossible to stop thinking when things go wrong. Yes, I agree that doing it is more difficult. But at the same time, it is a lot easier than allowing the mind to run off on a worrying stream of thought. Of any 24 hour day, negative events generally account for a very small amount of time. It is our thinkaholic nature which prolongs the situation in our mind.
It is easier to build up your awareness by stilling the mind when things are GOING RIGHT FOR YOU. When life is running smoothly, make it a continued practise to observe your thoughts and bring COMPLETE attention to the present moment, or feel your inner body or follow your breath. The more you do this, the easier it is when things are not running so smoothly.
OLD TENSIONS DISSOLVE
Past events and old thoughts that are buried well beneath the surface of the conscious mind will begin to appear as you calm your mind. By living in presence, watching your breath, feeling your inner body, the mind clears and past memories arise. Both good and not so good memories arise. From thirty years ago, you might remember a schoolteacher, childhood friends, an experience that happened while you were on holiday, or something somebody said to you.
Deeply rooted traumas might surface. As the old memories arise, just acknowledge them and let them pass, even stuff that has caused a lot of pain, such as emotional, physical or sexual abuse.
Just view these past traumas as thoughts. Observe them without attachment and let them pass. A mood change, emotional charge and short-term depression can be part of the process. If you feel down, accept it as part of the healing process. Feeling down is okay, as it is for the short term and will soon pass. Bringing acceptance to this helps speed the process. Deal with the past by living in the present. Doing this enables the old thought patterns that have shaped your life to dissolve.
The good news is that you don’t have to analyse the past to address the past. You don’t even need to understand it. Just live in the now and allow the past to surface and dilute.
WE ALL NEED HELP FROM LIFE
No matter how intelligent we are, we depend on life to help us along the way. We cannot do it alone, nor should we. All species with the exception of most humans allow life to assist them, care for them and provide for them. Birds, tigers, elephants, snakes, cats, dogs, seals, dolphins and whales are not worried about tomorrow, nor are they dwelling in the past. They have little fear except for brief moments when confronted by an animal of prey. Why are humans the exception? Why would life let humans down and look after every other living being?
You are not one with life if all of your attention is in your head. You are missing out on life and all that it is has to offer. Look at the state of the people around you. You will see how caught up they are in their heads thinking about the past or future and seldom having their attention in the now.
Life is not a collection of thoughts. Life has an immense intelligence that we seldom consider. Allow life to help you through life. Don’t be constantly worried and afraid of whatever situation or event may unfold. Have trust in life and life will look after you.
Your job is to let life live through you. You enable this when you merge with your inner body or follow your breath. Your job is to live life, not to live in a collection of thoughts in your head. Living in your thoughts is living a life divorced from life.
LET GO OF THE WHEEL OF LIFE
In a sense, when we first let go of thought, we feel as if we are abandoning control. Society, education and other factors have conditioned us into believing that we always need to be thinking. The belief is that if we stop thinking, everything that we have ever accumulated or strived for will come tumbling down around us. The belief is that our relationships will fall apart, our kids will go wild, our finances will dwindle.
Deep down, we believe that we must be thinking all the time. If this wasn’t the case, why would we continue to do it? Here, I am asking you to take a chance on life and see how life looks after you. Forget about thought and join with life.
Let go of constant control and see what life brings you. It is the understanding that you literally have to do nothing and let life do it for you.
You are in this world to discover life. Have fun with it. Test it out. See if life is real. See if it is true. But you have to be willing to test it. Make the decision to change. You might have to start with very small areas.
If you are bored in your job, can you view it differently? Can you approach it without feeling that it is boring? Can you look at your wife or husband without seeing the negativity that you have run through your mind over the past few months?
Gently take back control of your mind. Watch your breath, feel your inner body, reduce your breathing. Do this for pockets of a few minutes many times throughout the day.
Especially do it while you are watching TV, driving your car, waiting in line at the post office, walking down the street, exercising, in bed at night. The more often you incorporate it into your life, the more you will continue with it.
It is you that stops yourself. See what life really provides you, as this will be far better than what is developed through a collection of thought. If you made a decision to choose life, then you would not choose thought.
How will you know if it is working? Quite simply, you will know by how you feel. You will feel alive and feel no tension. Your life will be softer and will unfold a lot easier.
Life is a tremendous source of energy and intelligence. It is living, flowing, fluid. To tap into life, we must be open to it by being fluid, open and flowing. Don’t be trapped in stale, useless and repetitive thinking. Life can only take place in this moment. Life unfolds in this moment. You can never escape from this fact. It is the life that you are.
What were you thinking about when you were eating breakfast? What were you thinking about when you were brushing your teeth? What were you thinking about when you were sitting on the toilet? What were you thinking about while you spoke to your children? What were you thinking about when you spoke with your partner? What repetitive and useless thoughts rush in while you read this piece? Or are you really here? Is your attention totally here? Do you feel the aliveness of it all?