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„It’s all in the head“

„It’s all in the head.“

Idan Meir, Tuesday, 1.2.2022

The mind as a vehicle or an obsta­cle for conscious living.

As a young soldier in the Israeli army, it was common to hear the sentence: „It’s all in the head“. You have been trained for very tough physi­cal and mental challenges, and forgo­ing through those, you need to remem­ber that your mind will dictate your success or failure.

There is truth in this overused artifi­cial phrase, and there is a depth hidden there. When you suffer, and we all do, it’s not about the situa­tion that life puts us in, but what we tell ourselves about it that makes us suffer. All our problems are somewhere between your two ears, says Eckhart Tolle, but in our heads also hides the gate to our freedom.

We are constantly think­ing. It is a fact. While sleep­ing, think­ing subsides, but we are activated mentally, emotion­ally, and physi­cally when we dream. But there is also the possi­bil­ity to reach a non-think­ing state of mind. We mostly visit it for short moments when we are exposed to a beauti­ful image of nature or piece of art, listen­ing atten­tively to music that touches us or to a partic­u­lar sound of nature that takes our thoughts away. When we look at a newborn, a baby, an animal or a tiny seed that grow a leaf, we are out of our concep­tual mind for a few moments till think­ing comes back with ‚so sweet’, ‚such beauty’ or other commen­taries, tagging or naming.

The concep­tual mind starts to kick in and breaks the moment of silence. We live with our collec­tive and personal commen­tary background story that tells us all we need to know about any given situa­tion, people, living condi­tions, problem-solving, especially other people’s problems. Sometimes the commen­tary is friendly, creative and excit­ing, but it is often stress-based and not so pleas­ant. Complains, judgments and opinions about every­thing that goes wrong in the world, in our life or in others.

When we are in the non-concep­tual mind, we only witness and stay quiet. No comments, no self-talk, no stories, no trying to under­stand things or change situa­tions, solving problems or people. No blame or complaint. It is the pure aspect of our existence, our essence as human beings, that can be easily accessible.

The concep­tual mind is horizon­tal. It has past and future. It loves planning and stories. It is many times in a hurry and wants to be somewhere else. Sometimes it visits the present moment, but because it is in such a rush, it cannot get the pleasure of it and fast it realises that the present moment is dull and has to go back to search for a new mental content to consume.

The non-concep­tual mind is verti­cal. It goes deep into the situa­tion, into the moment, and it stays there. It holds on to physi­cal sensa­tions, eyes, percep­tions, ears, taste, smell and touch. It goes beyond the thoughts. It is the non-think­ing possi­bil­ity of the mind.

What is freedom?

As humans, we have the great possi­bil­ity to navigate between the two. It all happens in our heads. When we can escape from the grip of the concep­tual mind and stay in the non-think­ing mode or at least have space between us and our thoughts, we are free. Eckhart Tolle defines two states of mind: the under­think­ing and the above think­ing levels.

When I realise I am driven by a cycle of thoughts running me around, I am under the thoughts level. When I realise that my thoughts took me under custody, I may be awake from this daydream and perhaps rise above the think­ing pattern and try to stay there as much as I can. How do I do it? Will get to it later.

The non-think­ing mind is where our inner power lives.

Do you remem­ber those Karate old movies where Bruce Lee prepares himself for a fight? Like a cat, he becomes very alert, eyes open and focused, facing the ‚enemy’ and prepar­ing physi­cally and mentally. He takes an intense physi­cal shape and pauses for a few seconds. Then comes conscious breath­ing, deep exhala­tion. The body stops, and the mind stops. This is the gateway to the inner power. Imagine what would happen if there was self-talk start­ing at that moment. The fight would be solved immediately.

I remem­ber how alert and alive I was walking on foreign land as a soldier, knowing that I was fully present from every corner a danger could arrive. No time to think about anything and no stories in the head at that time. The eyes are wide open, search­ing for any suspi­cious movement in the dark, and the ears are alertly listen­ing to the silence of the night. You hear your breath and your body becomes like an animal, one with the surround­ings. You feel fully alive as you walk, perhaps towards death.

But there is no need to put yourself in a danger­ous situa­tion to feel alive, be on a stage in front of hundreds of people, run on high ruffs, jump from cliffs and so on. Simply walking in your city can bring alert­ness without stress or tension. It can be possi­ble simply as you are doing the dishes, cutting vegeta­bles or walking the dog.

When we dance, practice yoga poses or conscious breath­ing technics, we invite the possi­bil­ity of elevat­ing from the concep­tual mind to the non-concep­tual, from the horizon­tal to the verti­cal, from the think­ing patterns to the empty vastness of the pure conscious­ness. Being aware of breath­ing, awaken­ing sense percep­tions; eyes seeing, ears listen­ing atten­tively, and staying with the body’s physi­cal sensa­tions of the skin, the muscles and the bones.

It’s all in the head, the choice to sleep and continue the dream or the night­mare of the stories our minds are telling us, or choose to wake up from the dream and practice aware­ness, alert­ness, and conscious living.

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