‘There is only now’ – Make it a mantra!
I found this tip really helpful when my practice really started to deepen. I’d developed enough awareness to be conscious of my thoughts and I was generally feeling pretty damn good. But when something triggered my emotional painbody, I’d lose it. My peace would be gone and I would often slip back into depression for a little while.
Even in the midst of the depression I could still watch my thoughts, I was all too familiar with my thinking patterns and preoccupations and I could see my minds tendency to go towards worries and knew the common themes which triggered my despair. I could observe the old stories going round and round again, and could witness my insane reasoning. I could see my madness, it was as clear as day, but when it was like this I could rarely find enough mindfulness to give me much peace from it. Whatever I tried the chatter continued.
I know now that this is a normal part of the training, and that mindfulness comes and goes. Mindfulness always returns eventually, and so will yours too. Getting lost in your head again and being dragged back into the madness is all just part of the passage. Mindfulness comes and goes and that’s fine and when you can see it like that it will hardly trouble you at all, but the truth is, for a large part of the passage you may find this kind of thing happening a lot – so here’s the tip.
Step 1 – Surrender
Don’t even try to silence your mind. The trying is a non-acceptance you see. Trying is resistance to what is and actually makes things worse. In truth whatever you fight you make stronger because the fight gives it attention and provides it with energy. So surrender to your noisy head. If your mind is running wild that’s Ok, it is as it is, offer no resistance, and if you can achieve the ultimate, let go and want nothing other than what is right now and you may free yourself in one go! But if you can’t, which is most likely, then surrender to that too.
Step 2 – Stop and be where you are
Check in to your body. Ask yourself “where am I now?”, or “what is real right now?” and then focus fully on what is real in this moment, not on what is unreal the past and the future in your head, but focus fully on what is real right now. You’ll often find that this brings instant relief and for a moment the world shines back. If the painbody is in full stride you’ll be unlikely to get relief for long, but it always helps to remind yourself of what real even if it’s only a fleeting appreciation.
Step 3 – Distract your mind with a mantra
If you already use a mantra meditation technique use that, but if not you can always make up on of your own. The mantra will act as a distraction for your mind. You could repeat “There is only now” or “I am not my thoughts” over and over again. You may choose to meditate on this mantra for a while, or you could simply keep repeating it in your head as you go about your business (being as mindful as possible of course). Eventually you’ll find that your mind get so bored with the mantra that is “shuts up” and you’ll get some peace, but even whilst it is till chattering the mantra is far less destructive than where your mind would go without the mantra to focus on. So you might as well give a go.