Dec 10 2012
In a recent interview, Eckhart Tolle told Oprah that years ago, when he was a scholar and doctoral candidate at Cambridge University in England, he was severely depressed, tormented by persistent negative thoughts, and was contemplating suicide. At the time, he said to himself, “I can’t live with myself anymore.” That sparked an epiphany, a clear awareness of his egoic mind versus his true self, and it catapulted him into the present and changed his life forever. He quit his secure position at the university, and spent his days sitting on a park bench enjoying his newfound peace and sharing with others about ‘the power of now’.
Oprah asked him how the people in his life reacted to his sudden change, and he said, “My mother thought I’d lost my mind.” Oprah smiled and said, “You did lose your mind!” They both laughed. He lost his painful egoic mind and gained the expansive peaceful presence of his true self.
There’s a saying, “Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most.” For me, of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the LEAST. I sometimes had a chatterbox mind; when I was unsettled, my busy mind was like a crazed acrobat, tumbling from thought to thought, leaping to conclusions. After my cancer diagnosis (wow, almost 4 years ago), a whole circus of crazed acrobats was unleashed in my mind! I felt highly motivated to calm those painful tumbling fears and imaginings. As a result of my efforts, I’m delighted to say…I am losing my mind! (and gaining so much more!) I’d like to share with you the ways I’m doing that.
The key is bringing awareness to the breath and body. Eckhart Tolle said, “You need an anchor for presence, and the inner body is a wonderful anchor for the state of presence.” When we focus on the body, the mind becomes quieter, because we’re no longer giving it attention. Before my diagnosis, I don’t think I’d ever fully committed to being in my body. Now I am fully occupying and feeling the dynamic aliveness of this earth suit! Here are three areas of my body that especially have become allies in stilling my mind and anchoring peaceful presence.
HEART: When I’m trying to go to sleep and my mind is restlessly chattering, I bring my awareness to my heart, and start breathing through my heart; soon my mind settles down and I fall asleep! When I’m with someone and notice judgmental jabbering in my mind, I send a beam of light from my heart to theirs, and I immediately feel more peaceful, loving, and connected (with them as well as myself). The Institute of HeartMath says that bringing awareness to our heart, breathing through our heart, and imagining someone or something we love, puts our body in a measurable state of coherence and harmony. This is a healing state; it’s the state I want to live in.
ABDOMEN: When worry thoughts start to churn, I take deep slow abdominal breaths (the belly expands with each inhalation). This simple act not only brings me instantly present, it also activates the relaxation response, the lymphatic system, and the immune system! And I feel more juicily alive!
FEET: When I’m walking and find my mind blathering away about something, I bring my awareness to my feet: I breathe in, up from the earth into my feet, and I breathe out through my feet, feeling supported, connected, and held by mother earth.
Bringing awareness to ANY part of our body helps calm the mind and anchor presence. This is something I’ve wanted and needed to learn how to do in this life. I can imagine my soul saying, “We need to be more present in our body, in our heart, feeling our feet on the ground, breathing deeply, and being fully grounded in spirit and in this life. I know just the thing that will motivate us to do that…the answer cancer!”
I answered that call to more vivid, committed aliveness, and because of that, for me, cancer has been the ultimate life enhancer, helping me lose my troubled mind (much of the time), and gain the spacious present. This foray into peaceful presence may even be what’s healing the cancer. What a lovely design – cancer made me more present, and that presence is healing the cancer! (At least, that is the story I’m telling myself, and I like that story!)
How about you? What are ways that help you lose your mind, and anchor peace, presence, and harmony in your life?