I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before, “talking to yourself is the first sign of madness.” But is thinking to yourself all the time madness too?
If you’re talking to someone and you never stop to listen, you’ll never hear anything they have to say. In the same way, if you’re talking to yourself all the time (or thinking) you’ll never have anything to think about except thoughts. You’re never in relationship with reality, because you’re living entirely in the world of symbols and concepts.
Reality has concepts and symbols in it, of course. But reality itself is not a concept. It is beyond concepts.
If we’re thinking all the time, we’re constantly comparing and judging everything. Reality definitely has judgment in it, but like concepts, it is beyond them. Most importantly, reality is beyond labels. In order to be in relationship with reality, we need to stop and listen. We need to go out of our mind.
In order to listen, we have to quiet our thoughts. If you’re like me or the other 99.9% of the world, this probably won’t be easy for you at first. We’re used to talking to ourselves constantly. We talk to ourselves in line at the grocery store, at our desks, while we eat. We even talk to ourselves while other people are talking to us.
When I first tried meditating, I tried to silence my thoughts, I tried to shove them out of my mental space. I did this with great effort and determination. Guess what happened? Nothing. Well not nothing, it just made me think even more (this is a common experience). So I tried even harder. I tried to push them out of the way and let no disturbance enter. But the harder I tried, the more disturbed my mind was.
It was like trying to smooth water with a flat iron. You just disturb it even more.
So if mandating your thoughts away doesn’t work, what will? The answer is just to let your thoughts go. Just watch them. Don’t try to stop yourself from thinking, that will just encourage it even more.
In meditation (the art of going out of your mind) there are various props we use to assist us:
- Music. I prefer listening to Japanese flute when I’m listening to music while meditating. Stan Richardson is highly recommended.
- Incense. Our sense of smell is our repressed sense. Focusing on the smell can help give your mind “single-pointedness” and relieve you from distraction.
- Breath. What would this guide be without mentioning our breath? Every meditation guide includes it, and for good reason. By focusing on your breath, you’re making a connection between your body and mind. Notice how your breath can be a both voluntary and involuntary action.
- Walking. I usually have the easiest time meditating while I’m walking. When I’m sitting in one place for a long time, my mind gets restless. When I’m walking, I can focus on the scenery around me and let my mind become quiet.
- Chanting. This isn’t a method I use a lot, but it can be a very powerful one. Chanting Om has been the most effective method for me. I concentrate on the fact that it represents the entire spectrum of sound and therefore the entire energy of the universe.
There are a lot of other methods, or props that can help you meditate and go out of your mind. Laughing is another very powerful one. Simply laugh hysterically. You don’t need a reason, although I recommend doing it when you’re alone, otherwise you might get some interesting looks. This is guaranteed to make you go out of your mind.
There are plenty of resources online that will tell you about the benefits of meditation. Better focus, a more peaceful mind, and the ability to handle negative emotions more easily. I won’t belabor you with all the benefits of going out of your mind, they’re thoroughly covered elsewhere. There is, however, one benefit that I think doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
The Inescapable Feeling of Total Contentment
There’s two different kinds of contentment, little contentment and big contentment. Little contentment is the type of satisfaction you get when you buy that new computer you’ve been saving for. It’s the feeling you get when you accomplish a goal, finish college and get your drivers license for the first time. While this type of contentment is certainly important, there’s a bigger contentment you simply can’t get through any accomplishment.
Total contentment is the feeling you get when your mind is completely empty. You’ve released all thoughts, labels and judgment and you simply are. When you do this, there’s a subtle feeling that there’s no longer a difference between you and everyone else, between what in here and what’s out there.
When you realize this, you realize that everything is already accomplished. Everything that’s strived for has been won, everything that’s been longed for has been attained and everything that’s been desired has been satisfied.
Beyond Your Mind
You feel complete peace, because you don’t identify with anything, you’re simply witnessing without passing judgment (it takes a lot of energy to pass judgment all the time, sometimes you just need a break)
When we silence our minds, we are able to just be; without judgment, without identification, without pining over the past and worrying about the future. We can completely shed our ego and re-center ourselves.
Most importantly, going out of your mind is about finding peace and perspective. Creating a story, with all the drama, the heartache and struggle is a beautiful thing. But if all we identify with is our story, we forget the complete perfection that exists in the present moment. We’re living somewhere else. Instead of living in relationship (and harmony) with reality, we’re identifying with some small portion of it.
Going out of your mind is about reconnecting to the source, remembering where you came from and why you’re here. It’s about finding perspective and solace in the insanity of day to day life.
Going out of your mind might seem insane. It seems like that because you’re not finding an answer within your mind. You’re going beyond it, you’re going to the source.
My recommendation: go out of your mind at least once a day (if it helps you bring it into your routine, you can do it while you brush your teeth).
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