One of my first skeptical thoughts on mindfulness and the whole “living in the present” concept was and sometimes still is, that why should I even try stopping the thought stream? Aren’t human beings supposed to think?
On the seventh day of my stay at the Vipassana meditation retreat, three years ago, I had an enormous emotional distress, I could not breathe and my heart was beating literary out of my chest. I went to the teacher and not being able to talk after being silent for an entire week, burst into tears. Later I found out this was a normal incident to most of the first time participants on day seven. She advised me to lie down in my room and breathe deeply imagining that all my anxiety, negative thoughts and emotions evaporated from the palms of my hands. I did as she said and needless to say it took not more than a few minutes for all the negative feelings to disappear leaving me with an indescribable peace. The few remaining days went by smoothly and indeed very enjoyably, it was as if a big burden was taken off my chest.
I did not realize how this worked until this evening as I was watching an Eckhart Tolle recording to get some ideas for this page, I heard him advise the same to everyone who is trying to stop the constant mind blabber especially at night and before sleep. His advice is to shift the attention away from thinking and ask yourself if you can feel the energy inside your hands. You will then feel a tingling on the palms of your hands which you could then shift throughout the whole body, the arms, the legs, etc. Before you notice you have calmed down the mind. The point is to feel that you are actually alive, to experience that aliveness not in your head but in your whole body. That is, trust me, an extraordinary experience.
No doubt human beings are supposed to think, you cannot live without thinking, analyzing, plotting and making decisions but what if all along you forget to live? Moments will pass, minutes, hours, days and years without us realizing that we are, above all, living beings. That’s the point I have discovered so far.