How to Quiet the Mind
By Gina Lake
The mind is a wonderful tool for thinking, but it has a dark side. There is an aspect of the mind that is not useful but pretends to be useful, which is called the egoic mind. It is the aspect of our mind that chats with us as we move about our day. It is the "voice in our head," as Eckhart Tolle calls it. Much of the time, this voice seems like our own thoughts and our own voice, and we often express these thoughts (e.g., "I love doing that!" "I can't wait until tomorrow." "I wonder what will happen"). At other times, this voice is like the voice of a parent or other authority figure or a friend (e.g., "You should try harder." "Don't forget to take your vitamins." "Wouldn't it be fun to try that!"). It may even seem evil or mean (e.g., "You never do anything right. You're worthless. You might as well give up"). We tend to take this voice seriously—we believe it, agree with it, and don't question it. We believe it because we are programmed, or wired, to believe our ow! n thoughts, regardless of whether they are true and helpful or not.
Not only do we believe these thoughts, but we believe they are "ours." We identify with them—we feel they reflect who we are. We don't tend to question our own thoughts, although we readily question other people's thoughts, especially if those thoughts are different from ours. But when we stop and examine what this mental voice is saying, we discover a lot of contradictory advice, misinformation, prejudices, judgments, and other negativity. This mental voice is often unkind, belittling, fearful, self-doubting, judgmental, complaining, confused, and unhelpful.
It turns out that the voice in our head is not a very good guide to life, and yet we tend to accept what it says and do what it suggests. This voice, in fact, is the cause of human suffering. It fights life, rails against it, and is discontent and afraid. It is the voice of the false self—the ego—not the true self. The thoughts that arise in our mind cause every negative emotion we experience: fear, guilt, anger, jealousy, shame, sadness, resentment, envy, hopelessness, worthlessness, and depression. Without these thoughts, we would live in peace within ourselves and in harmony with others. But you already know this, don't you?
The funny thing is that we can see the truth about the egoic mind and still be entranced by it, still be mesmerized by it. The programming to pay attention to and believe this aspect of the mind is very strong, and it takes not only seeing the truth about it, but also a practice, as in meditation, of not giving our attention to this mental voice before we gain enough distance from it to experience freedom and the joy and peace of our true self, or Essence, as I like to call it.
The reason for moving out of the egoic mind and into the Now is to experience who we really are. Our thoughts represent the false self, the ego. In fact, all the false self is, is thoughts. There is no substance, no thing, that is the false self—only thoughts. The false self is made up of ideas about yourself: "I'm a woman, I'm a mother, I don't like traveling, I'm middle-aged, I like blue, I'm married, my father deserted me when I was young, I want to be a novelist, I'm not pretty enough," and so on. Such ideas create an image and sense of yourself, but you are not an image or even this sense of yourself. Images aren't real or true. Feelings about yourself aren't even real or true, since they are based only on thoughts, which aren't real or true. Who you really are has nothing to do with any of these ideas, feelings about yourself, or stories you tell about yourself.
Your true self is the experience of yourself existing in this moment, free of such constructs, stories, and self-images. To experience your true self, or Essence, you have to move out of your self-images and thoughts about yourself into the experience you are having right here and now, absent of thoughts and self-images, which obscure who you really are. We become entranced by our thoughts and overlook reality—the real experience we are having here and now. The egoic mind, however, doesn't want you to stop paying attention to it, so it continually tries to engage your attention. It persists in this because this is how the false self is maintained. If you stop paying attention to your thoughts, the false self disappears, and all that's left is Essence—the real you who is experiencing this moment.
There is something else here besides this character you suppose yourself to be, and that's what is actually living your life. This that you truly are is looking out of your eyes, hearing sounds, reading and understanding these words, and having every other experience that is part of this very unique and potentially delightful moment. What else are you experiencing besides reading? What colors are you experiencing? What sounds? What sensations? What intuitions? What drives? What insights? What is the Being that you are experiencing right now?
The more we bring our focus into the present moment and onto our actual experience (as opposed to focusing on our thoughts), the more we experience the joy and contentment of the spiritual being that we are. This that we are is having a wonderful time having this adventure we call life. It embraces all of it—every experience. When we come into the Now, we experience the peace, joy, contentment, wisdom, patience, kindness, and strength of our true nature. At our core, we are all loving and joyous beings! It is only identification with the egoic mind that makes us feel and act otherwise. The only thing that interferes with the experience of Essence is absorption in thought. Imagine that! The egoic mind is the only thing that interferes with living more lovingly and more at peace with ourselves and the world. We are all beautiful and amazing creations!
My intention is to help you see the truth about your ego and the egoic mind so that you can more easily and more consistently experience who you really are. Fulfillment and true happiness is found by dropping out of our ego and egoic mind (the false self) into the Now—into the experience of Essence. That is what we are about here. The practices, explorations, video, and guided meditation offered in this lesson are a very important part of this discovery. Please give yourself fully to them this week. Sending all love and blessings…