You are a natural animal attempting to see your way through a haze of abstract thought. Mankind was originally concerned with fundamental needs. Food, water, shelter, procreation. And to deal with that we used labels like carrots, juice, shelter and person. But then we added things like trustworthy, and proper, and right, and wrong. We layered these ideas over-top of the world around us and then judged the world as though our ideas were relevant to it. So goes the ego’s self-centeredness. We’re all the same.
So because of these ideas, you now have people walking around afraid. Not of lions or tigers or wolves. They’re afraid of social unacceptability. People think that there is some number that is wrong for a waistline, and by continually replaying their wrongness to themselves via their thoughts, they effectively prevent themselves from doing things like going to parties, or buying clothes they like.
These judgments are all abstract thoughts. Stop to think about that a second; people are imprisoned by their own abstract thoughts. Meanwhile, the world passes us by.
If you quiet all of that thinking, fairly soon your nature will arise again. Unbound, with the cage-door of thought open, you will become curious like a child. You’ll become more aware of your surroundings. Every single sense will become more finely tuned. You won’t be as clumsy. You’ll feel more in your own body. And you will be. Because you won’t be space-time travelling to somewhere else, leaving your body teetering as a physical manifestation of your wandering thoughts.
Come alive. Wake up to the Present Moment. Without all of that noisy thinking in the way you will be able to feel the world around you. Many of us have seen animals do it—literally sense a person’s disposition. You can do that too. Not by talking to yourself about your reasons pro and con. This won’t be the winner of a debate. This won’t be a guess. This will feel exactly like quiet knowing. Because that is exactly what it will be.
People will tell you to think things through but their life will have just as much crap in it as everyone else’s. So if all of that thinking and re-thinking is still leading to the same amounts of pain, then why not just surrender and stop trying to figure it all out? Why not just go quiet and feel? The thinking isn’t doing anything except getting in your way anyway. As a kid you did almost no thinking and yet you spent all of your time laughing your head off and creating things. That’s the way you do it.
So relax. It’s too big to figure out. That was never what you were supposed to do anyway. You don’t think your way past obstacles and win. There is no such thing as winning. There are no such things as obstacles. Thinking creates the illusion of both. But really there is just life. And in life you can always always always only deal with the step you are on. Because everything else is just thought.
Go quiet. Feel. You’ll be fine.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.