How To Learn To Leave The Mind Alone

I’ve been studying mindfulness since 2011. I’m fascinated by Dr. Rick Hanson’s work and application of experience dependent neuroplasticity. That’s a fancy way to say that what we think about we hard-wire into our brain.

I’m a firm believer that being mindful is a powerful way to:

  • Reduce stress when you spend less time grappling with regrets from the past or worries about the future
  • Amp productivity when the brain can focus on the task at hand instead of holding open loops for things that need to get done.
  • Enjoy life as it passes through our impermanent existence moment-by-moment

My productivity system, like a meditation cushion or Yoga mat, is a tool to promote mindfulness. We can learn to leave the mind alone when we have a trusted and reliable system to store our thoughts and to-do lists.

I’ve also been deeply moved by The Mind by Alan Watts, A powerful video about our addiction to thoughts.

There’s great difficulty in stopping but we must, if we want to be sane, he says. I love the beautiful still and video images, contemplative music and a compelling narrative by Mr. Watts that we need to learn to leave the mind alone. To summarize his key points:

  • Can you let your mind be quiet? It’s very difficult to do.
  • We are addicted to thoughts.
  • Many events in life are set up to trigger worry or regret.
  • We live in an age where distraction from our thoughts is the treatment of choice.
  • Continuous thinking leaves no space for outside thoughts and ideas.
  • We need to learn to leave the mind alone.
  • The first step is not to try. The mind will quiet itself in this state.

His teaching is a cornerstone in my productivity consulting practice. Mr. Watts was the foremost translator of Eastern philosophy for the Western culture’s consumption in the 60’s and 70’s. He was a contemporary of Carl Jung and became a highly regarded international speaker. Read more about this fascinating man in his biography at

How do you practice mindfulness? What stops you from being more mindful?

Michael Shelton helps busy professionals get their life's work done as a productivity consultant and the owner of Shelton Business Services, LLC in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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