…is the title of a book published in the West by spiritual leader, Ram Dass. He gained permission from Indian guru Maharaji to publish the book in 1971, but the sentiment is more pertinent now than ever. The opportunity for distraction is omnipresent at work, home and (gulp) even when driving. Ubiquitous options have made us unable to choose and incapable of being content with who we are and what we have. In yoga it is referred to as “monkey mind” and I know I am swinging through the trees, cell phone in hand, with everyone else.
What are you thinking about right now? If I look up from the computer screen, my thoughts quickly drift to the Spanish class I want to take, my son’s graduation dinner and how I’m going to landscape the backyard in the Spring. Are your thoughts scattered in several directions?
Can you sit still and be? I have a friend who takes an annual silent retreat at a monastery in order to renew her heart and mind. She literally leaves town because she knows a change of location makes this “mental cleanse” possible. When she returns she can see how things are. She knows when we are so consumed with what happened yesterday, what might happen tomorrow and what we hope to do next week that the here and now has no room in our minds (or hearts). Can you still your body and mind for even a moment?
The challenge is to give yourself permission to sit still and be for a minimum of five minutes each day. “Wait a minute,” I can hear you say. “I don’t have time to sit still for five minutes!” There’s the rub, my friend. An overactive, stressed-out psyche moving in 101 directions at once is never as sharp or effective as a focused and calm mind. Try this for a week and see if you don’t accomplish more with less effort.
There is no certain way you need to do this other than to prioritize yourself, just like you do when you care for your body with a good workout or healthy food. Some people find the act of allowing themselves five uninterrupted minutes away from their phone, computer and other people is sufficient. Others need a silent or audible mantra to remain focused. (“Om” or “Peace” are my suggestions.) Many use a simple focus on their breathing in order to calm and clear their minds. The key is to simply observe the thoughts and feelings, which will invariably arise, and allow them to pass without judgment. The only thing you need to do is be here now.