On countless occasions, I would find myself replaying past scenarios that had previously occurred in my life, contemplating how things could have played out differently if only I had made other choices. While at the same time drumming up hypothetical future scenarios and imagining how things in the distant future could potentially unfold, usually with a negative outcome."
Disease occurs when things get out of balance — when the body becomes subject to some kind of illness or impairment, resulting in adverse effects.
We most often associate disease as being in its physical form as it relates to the body, but there’s a much more common form of disease that almost all of us suffer from, and it affects our minds.
A lot of what takes place in our heads has developed into a condition that’s nearly impossible to control and, just like a physical disorder, our thoughts have become very debilitating and hard to manage.
To put it more abruptly, our thinking has become a disease.
The modern psychologist and author Eckhart Tolle was the one that suggested that the mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used in the wrong way, however, it becomes very destructive.
As outlined in Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its often dysfunctional and negative nature, much of it is also harmful.
This comes in the form of constant emotions like fear, anxiety, and depression that lead to a severe amount of inner emotional turmoil and internal conflict. All of which stems entirely from the continuous thoughts that take place in our heads.
Take a moment to consider everything that occurs within your mind. You most likely suffer from subconscious thoughts that fill you with doubt and worry. Or a subtle voice that tells you that you’re not good enough. Or painful memories and emotions that your mind conjures up on a regular basis.
This uncontrollable addiction to thinking is precisely the reason why so many of us feel unsatisfied in life.
Break Free From Your Destructive Thoughts
The mind is very chaotic and it’s always in motion.
According to the National Science Foundation, the average person has somewhere between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Nearly 80% of those thoughts are negative, ultimately resulting in stress, tension, and exhaustion, not only for the mind but also for the physical body.
We live in an era where our heads are constantly filled with complaints and judgments, making speculations and comparisons, and criticizing not only ourselves but everyone around us. This type of non-stop and compulsive thinking has become so common and familiar that most of us consider it to be normal.
“Not to be able to stop thinking is a dreadful affliction, but we don’t realize this because almost everybody is suffering from it, so it is considered normal.” — Eckhart Tolle
Both the quantity and quality of our thoughts have a direct impact on the condition of our lives. The inability to escape from our minds is why so many of us live in a complex world of continuous problems and self-imposed suffering, a world that manifests all the dissatisfaction and unhappiness that is originally created in the mind.
Fortunately, by evaluating much of your thinking and the purpose that your thoughts serve, it is in fact possible to disassociate with your mind and use your thoughts in a more beneficial way.
Dwelling on the Past and Fixating on the Future is Illusory Thinking
As evolutionary psychology has demonstrated, the human mind is naturally resistant to living in the present moment. It has developed a strong tendency to dwell on the past and fixate on the future, but fails to really ever find stillness in the current time and place.
If you’re like me, then chances are you can relate to this inability to live in the present. Before learning about the power of mindfulness, my mind would constantly relive the past and project itself into the future.
On countless occasions, I would find myself replaying past scenarios that had previously occurred in my life, contemplating how things could have played out differently if only I had made other choices. While at the same time drumming up hypothetical future scenarios and imagining how things in the distant future could potentially unfold, usually with a negative outcome.
Whether reliving the past or plotting the future, this type of thinking is illusory.
“I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” — Abraham Maslow
Imagining a better future for yourself doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but it gives you a false sense of hope and anticipation for something greater. This type of thinking only creates a never-ending desire for what you believe is lacking in your life, leaving you further unsatisfied with what you have now.
So many of us continuously tell ourselves “one day, when this, that, or the other happens, I’ll finally be okay, or happy, or at peace.” But “one day” will always remain just out of reach.
Dwelling on the past and fixating on the future merely distract from the one thing that is actually within your realm of control: the present moment.
Learning to Live in the Present Moment
While overcoming your mind can be a great challenge, the good news is that true contentment and satisfaction already exist within you. In order to find it all you have to do is disconnect from your mind and overcome the identification that you’ve built with it.
Through self-observation, you can learn to develop a greater sense of presence that will allow you to live here and now. Developing the ability to consistently withdraw your attention from the past and future will lead you to a remarkable sense of peace and joy.
“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have.” — Seneca
Although it’s easier said than done, pay attention to all the thoughts that enter your head. When you make the conscious effort to listen to a thought, you become aware not only of the thought itself but also of yourself as the witness of the thought.
Keep your mind clear of any thoughts, and any that do wander into your head, simply acknowledge them and let them subside. In doing so, you’ll unlock a higher level of consciousness.
As Eckhart Tolle explains, take moment to find stillness, free from any imposing thoughts. When you pause to observe your mind, you are no longer trapped in it.
You Are Not the Voice of Your Mind
The present is a tranquil state of being that is free from negative thinking, harmful emotions, and any of life’s trivial problems.
By learning to exist solely in the present moment, you’ll discover that your negative thoughts will eventually lose their power over you. Your compulsive thinking will come to an end and you’ll develop a strong sense of inner peace and stillness.
Over time, you’ll learn to use your mind in a much more focused and effective way than ever before and you’ll free yourself from those involuntary internal dialogues that exist in your head.
Michael Singer, the author of The Untethered Soul, sums this up accurately:
“There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind — you are the one who hears it.”
You’ll find that your mind can do remarkable things when you channel a state of consciousness that exists without any negative and distracting thoughts. When you overcome all the noise in your head, you can learn to simply be in the present moment, freeing yourself from your mind.
Enjoying this very moment that is presented to you right here and right now.