Can you hear that knock on the door of your heart? It’s the Now with an insight to give you. With an answer to your urgent need. With an idea to solve that problem you’re stressed about.
But that door doesn’t get opened because your mind has you under a spell . . .
Waking Up is Hard to Do
I work with all kinds of people with different strengths, weaknesses, communication styles, emotional intelligence, and activity levels. By work, I mean one-to-one as a coach and in team groups while growing the Tree of Life Sanctuary.
I can say with confidence that while every single one of them is working on becoming their best self, all of them get frustrated with their mind. “It makes sense how our thoughts affect our life,” many say to me, “and most of my thoughts come from places that are not me, but daaannng! They’re so frustrating to manage!”
I raise my hand in testimony to them, offering validation because I’ve been there! These Divine Beings want the same thing I wanted when I was 18-years old. This was the age of my spiritual crisis.
I was overwhelmed with the immense sensitivity I had to people’s pain and the pain of the world. My thoughts leaned toward suicide and I used unhealthy eating for comfort.
I wanted to understand how life worked and how to partner with it instead of being whipped around by it. I wanted to ride the wave of the life force instead of being swept under by the current. So, I tell them this: the first step is awareness of the patterns of human thought.
Thoughts are actually a field of study in spirituality and have been categorized. Ernest Wood, a British yogi, theosophist, and scholar, wrote a seminal book on thoughts, Concentration: An Approach to Meditation. In it, he writes,
“Years ago I described the contents and workings of the mind as a magic box, comparing it to the nest of boxes produced by an Oriental conjuror, who spreads his carpet and lays a box in the middle of it. He then takes a number of boxes out of that box. Then a number of boxes out of each of those, until the whole carpet is piled up with boxes.”
“What?!” you ask? Yes, this is the mind.
Mr. Wood’s book is a treasure. It’s worth every iota of energy you put into studying it and applying its lessons. For now, though, I offer you one simple idea to put you on the path of understanding.
It involves just one of the many ways to categorize thought: the three forms of time. The past, the future, and the now (or present).
The Game of Observation
If your goal’s to be in the Now as much as possible, start with identifying your thoughts as past (memory), future (planning or visioning), and the now (present).
For beginners, the times that are easiest to do this exercise are in the shower or in a car—ideally alone and driving a long distance. You might also try it while commuting on mass transit.
The first rule is no judgment!
You’re not a bad person for having thoughts about the past or the future. You need to have those thoughts! So love yourself and make it a game.
When you realize you’re daydreaming, examine the thought:
- Was it about something that you already experienced and are reliving?
- Was it about something coming up in the future that you are planning in your head?
- Are you reliving a conversation you had with someone in the past?
- Are you practicing a conversation you want to have with someone in the future?
Just identify the time frame of the thought and say to yourself in your mind the word “past/memory” or “future/planning,” and then let it go. You can alter these words to suit yourself, but stick to simple and clear terms.
Typically, in the beginning, you’ll find yourself going back into a past or future thought pattern most of the time you’re awake. This is normal. Just observe, absorb the information, and appreciate that you were just in the now learning more about you! Cool game, huh?
Blocking Out the Now
This self-exploration is vital for opening the portal to your Divine Within. When your mind’s mostly occupied with thought activity about the past and the future, you’re so busy thinking that you can’t hear your Inner Teacher. Your mind’s actually blocking out the Now.
“Present is what we can experience in the moment. Presence is the authentic expression of the Oneness of experience.”
Bruce D Schneider, Uncovering the Life of Your Dreams
What does the Now offer us that the past and the future cannot? To start, it offers us intuition and creativity. These are the ideas that are the answers to your burning questions—to your heart’s request for assistance. They’re your “a-ha’s!” They’re your Truths that sit in the silence between your thoughts about the past and the future.
Who’s responsible for making the space in your mind for them to pop in? Yep, it’s you.
Choose Your Focus
After you become adept at observing your mind’s activity, you’ll understand how to raise your consciousness. Consciousness is raised through awareness of our thoughts and then making a choice.
“What do I want to put my attention on right now? Shall I reflect on last night’s wonderful experience just for pure pleasure?” Go ahead!
“Shall I explore who I truly am by reflecting on my beliefs and where they came from?” Go for it!
“Shall I daydream about the most authentic version of myself as a human being?” Why not?!
“Shall I wonder about where I want to go in my life and then reverse engineer how to get there?” Wise plan!
“Or shall I just stand here and be in gratitude, as I observe, absorb, and appreciate all of the life that’s happening around me right now?” It’s your life and your choice, coming from who you are in the moment.
Ready, Set, Action!
I invite you to explore these topics that I write about in your own unique way, by yourself or with others. Share with me about how it’s going and what blocks you’re running into. You can use the comment section below or, for more privacy, email me at Info@TreeofLifeSanctuary.org.
Written by Laura Abernathy