“Oh, man, you’re just way too cerebral!!!” my friend exclaimed as I offered the word “incline” as a clue during a board game (the word I wanted her to guess was “uphill”). The thing is, she’s right. Much of the time I can be up here in my mind, thoughts churning along, not noticing my surroundings. Sometimes this can be a useful thing, like when I’m coming up with ideas for a project or weaving together an article. But it can also bring up needless worries and stresses.
I’ve learned several techniques over the years that I use to counteract this tendency. One is mindfulness meditation, and another is my yoga practice. Recently I read Eckhart Tolle’s wonderful book The New Earth, and have incorporated his teachings into my practice. Just by becoming aware that we are listening to the voice of the ego, he says, we begin to dispel it immediately. Simply being fully present in the moment, as in mindfulness meditation, allows us to further our awakening.
Today, as I sat down to do my yoga asanas, I began observing my mental chatter in action. I’d been thinking about how I wanted to lose weight and was wondering what I’d done differently when I had done so before. I don’t mean the practical things like exercise and lower caloric intake, I mean the energies behind my behavior. What did I do for comfort instead of turning to food? Why does it seem so challenging to be aware of my patterns at all times? How can I avoid getting caught up in snacking while watching a movie with the kids? What healthier habits can I develop in order to cope when I feel stressed? As part of this quick series of thoughts, I decided I’d look to my old journals for clues. Then I realized that living in the past was part of the ego and instead decided to focus on simply being present as much as possible.
In an instant of intention, I found myself sitting on my yoga mat, enjoying some delicious stretches. I let go of my chattering monkey mind and dove into the moment, feeling the delight of the practice, my expansive breathing, and the sensations in my body. And you know what? Just then, getting out of my head was easy.