Have you ever wondered why you find it so hard to concentrate? Your peace of mind must have been stolen. Today, as never before, distractions are endless, amplified by our deepening preoccupation with electronic media, our need to be always on 24 hours-a-day, 365 and ¼ days per year. We almost never let up, never go on vacation, never even take a day off. With constant stimulation, our thoughts never seem to let up. It is as though we are our mind, and our mind totally controls us.
Complicating the situation is the shift in the last couple decades of continuing waves of terrorism in every part of the world. The gun lobby and trade in arms go unabated. Presidents are granted license to bomb other countries at will with undeclared wars.
Politicians run for President who refuse to get it, and who continue insisting on business as usual with the ground falling below them. Recent candidates have even been naked about their self-interest and ambition. They suggest we vote for them out of entitlement.
How then can we possibly find peace of mind? Can we rely on institutions to do it for us, such as churches or schools? Are they part of the solution, or actually part of the problem? We too often look to a God without to save us, and ignore the deity within us, within the deepest part of ourselves.
The East has long pointed to meditation. Still the mind, so that you can be present to the divine. Many traditions have moved into the West, and are now more widely available than ever.
If we look within, we will find the composure to face the most distressing situations. To do this, we need to go beyond our surface self, our persona or social mask, and go even deeper than our shadow, where we are often plagued by nasty thoughts towards one another to our innermost Self, Whom and What we call “God.” It is like entering the eye of a Hurricane. We will find only peace, love and joy in that Self, what Hindus refer to as bliss.
Zen is characterized by outrageous antics to shock the normal flow of thought into an all-encompassing perspective, something Tony Robbins refers to as a “pattern interrupt.”
This whole tradition started in China by a guru from India, called Bodhidharma, who liked to sit facing a wall all day long. He inadvertently gained such a reputation that people practically begged him to teach. His future successor, Hui-K’o, was so frustrated by repeated rebuffs by the great master that he actually cut off his arm, and standing in the snow presented his severed arm to Bodhidharma.
Hui-K’o cried: "My mind is not pacified. Master, pacify my mind." Bodhidharma said: "If you bring me that mind, I will pacify it for you." The successor said: "When I search my mind I cannot hold it." Bodhidharma said: "Then your mind is pacified already." At that point, Hui-K’o experienced Satori, the flash of enlightenment.
If you keep looking for your mind, you will find it is not even there. Thoughts are just thoughts. They don’t necessarily mean anything.
If you can’t let go of your busy mind and need detachment from over-thinking… here is a great guided meditation (about 40 minutes long):
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Beatle’s guru, introduced to the world a simple technique to quiet the mind using a mantra, a sacred name that you simply repeat at first orally, and then silently, 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening.
Maharishi described each thought becoming smaller and smaller as it settled to the bottom of the ocean. He encouraged his students to observe their thoughts without judging or evaluating them. Just notice them. Don’t even try to push them away. Let them keep flowing. They will eventually subside.
The mantra served as a point of concentration that kept bringing his students back to the present moment. This technique became widely available. Dr. Deepak Chopra offers it as Primordial Sound Meditation. Any name or word might do, but divine names have a powerful resonance and are thus recommended.
Landmark offers its forum, and three-day training that gets participants keenly aware of their languaging, how they express themselves, how they hold reality. It is suggested that your language shapes your reality.
To alter your reality, become conscious of how you think. Be willing to take responsibility. Be willing to consider that you have something to do with whatever happens to you. Werner Erhard, the Founder, encouraged people to communicate to completion.
As he put it, “When you have said everything that you haven’t been saying, you will find that what you have really been saying is, ‘I love you.’” The Forum is an amazing experience. By sharing this discourse in a large room with 100 other people over several days, something profound shifts. You suddenly go beyond language and experience your own Satori. You keenly realize that you transcend all language, which is just a tool for your expression.
In recent years, Eckhart Tolle, a German philosopher who experienced enlightenment while a doctoral student at Cambridge University, points people to the “Power of Now.”
If you can just enter the Eternal Now Moment, you will stop the endless chain of thinking.
Eckhart was surrounded by books and upset with his life until he had a breaking point when his whole thought process literally shut down, and he was quite simply present. For Eckhart, this was like being born again. He heard sounds, saw colors and felt sensations as if he were a newborn experiencing them for the very first time. He was so carried away by this, that he dropped out of school and spent days on park benches until he discovered that he had a marvelous gift of teaching.
Eckhart is a master of succinctness. He is able to put the most abstract experience in terms to which everyone can relate. His books, videos and engagements are everywhere. He has become one of the highest paid speakers in the world.
Realize that you are not your thoughts, but rather the observer of your thoughts. Your thoughts come and go. You don’t need to hold onto them, or even believe them. Our thoughts keep us in the game of lie, but make lousy masters.
If you start focusing or concentrating even a wee bit every day, they will begin to slow down and even stop from time to time. You can walk away from the grid for a few hours, a day, even a week in some cases.
Arianna Huffington, Founder of The Huffington Post, has started a movement to have people consciously shut off their devices for a few minutes or hours, just to enter the present moment. When she fell down exhausted in the bathroom and profusely bled, she came to the conclusion the price for staying on the cutting-edge was too great. This transformed her life. Arianna has become an acclaimed speaker on the New Age circuit in such conferences as Wisdom 2.0.
If Arianna Huffington, who has plenty of legitimate excuses for being franticly busy, can do it, you can do it, too. You can find the inner peace that will help you transform your way of being and possibly a world that is stuck on violence as the only potent way to get its point across.
Tap into your inner peace and tune it up. You will experience the world differently… with more meaning, love and joy.
Feel free to share your story or experience below (in the comments area).