Reality vs. Illusion
Thinking is not living. It’s thinking. Living is being engaged in life, experiencing it and being an active part of it. That means being involved in what is truly happening now rather than thinking about what happened or speculating about what you think will happen. This is the difference between being outside at the park enjoying the breeze, basking in the healing energy of the sun, taking in the fresh smells of nature versus sitting at home thinking about being at the park, breathing recirculated air and smelling your last meal as it wafts through the house. There is an obvious and distinct difference between living and just thinking about living. One is a reality, the other an illusion. One is an experience, the other is just a bunch of thoughts strung together.
Many of us tend to spend a lot of our time thinking about this or that, which means we are inside our head rather than outside of it. This only becomes an issue for us when that thinking is tied up in self-created problems that we then use against ourselves or others .¨ and it happens more than we might realize. Such thoughts are a far cry from anything peaceful, healthy, happy or loving. Who would choose to spend time enveloped in such thoughts?
Our thinking often fuels unhappiness, anger, judgment and destruction. It works like this: a thought pops into our mind and we get hooked on it. It could be about a situation that bugs us, a person we don’t like or a topic that makes our blood boil. We take one morsel of information .¨ a word, a gesture or a concrete object – and spin it into a big, never-ending story that we choose to believe in, embellish and then suffer over. But, the entire thing is happening in our mind, not in reality. No matter how much our thoughts feel real to us, we have to remember they are just thoughts.
Many of us make the mistake of treating every thought as if it is the most important thought in the universe. It’s not. In fact, most thoughts aren’t necessary, let alone important. But, caught up in a whirlwind of thinking, we are easily whisked away into a total fantasyland that is real to no one but us. We spiral out of control over the most insignificant issues thinking they are vital to our existence. For instance, maybe you are having a mini-crisis over the wrong order at the drive-through window or angry at the world because, in your mind, you having nothing to wear to the party tonight. But, such thoughts aren’t vital to our survival, they are merely illusions in the mind. When we are dragged through life by thoughts, our thinking is out of balance which means we are out of balance. This happens when thinking takes over our lives and takes our life from us. But, we can change that and take our lives back.
We can take our life back by actively participating in it. When we do, we join reality rather than staying connected to an illusion. We move from mind-based existence to heart-based living. When we listen to our heart and then follow it, no thinking is involved at all. Love is automatic and it’s always right. Love guides us without the need for analysis or over-analysis. Think less, live more.
Tune into Life
When we are stuck in thought, we don’t experience life. In fact, we cut ourselves off from it. So, how do we get involved with life again? In order to become engaged with life, and ultimately with reality, we have to be willing to let go of the habit of thinking so much. The first step is we have to realize we actually think most of our waking time. To check this, pick one sound in the room you are sitting in right now. Focus on that sound. Now close your eyes. See how long you can focus on that sound, really listening to it, before thoughts start to creep in again. When they start streaming again, push them away gently and go back to the focus sound. The more you practice quieting your mind, the better you will be at it, like anything else. You don’t have to do it for a long time, but practice for 5-10 minutes each day. Don’t give up.
Realizing the level of thinking that goes on in our mind creates a space for awareness. We can then hear the thoughts more readily and recognize them for what they are. Then, we can step away from them, disconnecting on a more regular basis. This process eventually allows us to tune into life through a connection to the heart, which is also a connection to love.
Some thoughts are necessary, of course, but most are not. And our thoughts are the only thing that really holds us back in life. Thoughts keep us from feeling good about ourselves, they separate us from those we love and they deteriorate our health. When we become an active participant with our thoughts and the embellished stories, we cut our connection with the present moment – the place where life is located.
Many of our thoughts tell us we can’t do something, we can’t be something or we aren’t amazing. Our thoughts are extremely limited in scope because they arise from fear which comes from the message that we are lacking in some way – we pick this up when we are growing up. But, when we listen to our heart, our life experience is completely different. It’s way better. The trick is to use our mind to think about things that really need our thoughts, like math, registering time and true problem solving, not to continue thinking negatively about anything in life, including us. Then, we can let our heart guide us on the rest. When we are engaged in life and love, no thinking is needed. Love just is.
When we stop taking all of our thoughts so seriously and we stop actively participating in them, we get a break from the stream of madness that comes from so much thinking. We have the opportunity to use our mind to create, rather than destroy. Being aligned with and connected to love is equal to being aligned with and connected to reality. Experiencing reality means we are truly living. Don’t listen to your mind so much. Instead, listen to your heart. Don’t let life pass you by .¨ engage in it. Living in the moment is where health and happiness reside.