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