One of the principle concepts of being mindfully aware is to get in touch with your Being. Not your Being in the physical sense, rather your state of existence from moment to moment. This involves being aware of the constant inner chatter of your mind. If you take the time to listen, to truly listen, you will hear your mind chattering on, for instance, at this moment, I hear signals of itch from my left shoulder, planning for dinner, identification of sounds, location of sounds and I see forays of imagination into past and images of a future yet to come (namely spaghetti dinner steaming on a plate). It is constant and it switches pace so quickly we hardly notice, thus being able to recognize when your mind is drifting away is a key skill to becoming adept at existing in the moment.
I’ve heard complaint from people about the impossibility of being perpetually “in the moment” and I do agree, maintaining that level of awareness is not always safe or adaptive. Turning off all of our inner signals to the exclusion of a single focus is not actually what we’re trying to do; the mind is far too complex an organ for that to occur. However, being the animals that we are, we need to find a balance in order to stay safe, comfortable and alive. Our focus from time to time needs to shift—it’s how we’re designed in nature and why we have this thing called consciousness. Don’t however disregard your inner chatter completely, just understand that we don’t often need most of what our brain is evaluating in the moment, after all the brain can’t exactly be switched off. What mindful awareness does is allow you to say to your brain, it’s OK to let go for a little while, to be quiet and just Be.
Your inner chatter has a place in your life, for instance, conscience—that little voice that tells us what is right or wrong—is often used to guide our behaviour and in that instance, we’re paying attention to our inner voice, in essence, being consciously aware of our state of being. Our thoughts are so complexly intertwined with our states of being, namely mood, that at times, when our thoughts begin to spiral out of our control and we allow the brain to “drive the train” we can get caught up in that inner voice and feel angry, depressed, anxious and self focussed. Moments such as these are when awareness is key. Be mindful of your state of existence, your mood. Label it. Reign in that conductor and give it a job to focus on—naming what you are feeling. You will notice with time, that you will get better and better at recognizing your mood states, your body state and what thoughts are causing issues, how to silence those sections of your brain and how to get that train back on the rails. You will be more adept at just Being who you are, in the moment, quiet, calm and accepting.
I think what being mindfully aware tells us is that it is OK to settle back, calm down and just Be once in a while, no thought, no judgment, no feeling, just Be as you are in a completely neutral state.
It is that neutral that is important. It need not be constant, it is there when we need it and I think being aware of when we need it can help us find our inner balance. It’s OK to Be, OK?
Want some tips on how to deal with the inner chatter of your mind? Read COUNTDOWN TECHNIQUE: Engage the present moment in 5 easy steps>>
image: Adam Foster | Codefor (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND)