I’ve learned a lot in the last 5 years–
1. Miracles happen.
2. Needing nothing attracts EVERYTHING. Effortlessly.
3. “Never argue with idiots, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” #NoLifeTho #LipstickAlleyHeaux
But the most gangsterest, life-altering thing I’ve adopted (which led to my ability to choose happiness) is getting my mind to shut the hell up. I read The Power of Now a couple of years ago (and told y’all to read it too, if you haven’t, read it, if you read it, read that ish again) and it turned my world upside down. Eckhart (and many others) showed me exactly what my world, at any given moment, consists of–
1. My body (physical feelings/sensations happening HERE, NOW)
2. Thoughts (images and/or words happening HERE, NOW)****** THIS.
3. The stuff in my immediate vicinity (objects–like a table, computer, flower pot, etc. HERE, NOW)
And yet, with only three things going down in any given NOW, we stay overwhelmed, frustrated, depressed, anxious… clinging to our last nerve, mostly because of #2. Thoughts are disrespectfully loud and for most people, running non-stop with no interludes. It’s been happening for so long that you probably don’t even notice. #WeAddicted
We stay lost in thought.
For example, while in the shower finger detangling, you’re– wishing FOLK would and then plotting what you’ll do if they try, worrying about the future (having bae say ‘we need to talk’ and feeling like you’re in defcon five) and ruminating on the past (on what you should’ve said in response to that backhanded ass compliment from your neighbor last week).
But look, FOLK ain’t here… Bae hasn’t called yet, and your neighbor is
somewhere minding hers. It’s just you… and all that hurr, and all that slippery conditioner, standing under a glorious shower stream. None of that other stuff is happening where you are,
at this present moment… except for in your mind. You’re making yourself miserable. You’re running thru the 6 #WithYoWoes, fretting about worse case scenarios that probably won’t play out and attempting to solve problems that haven’t even presented themselves yet. You’re giving this ish life. So stop it.
Benefits of Mindfulness
I’m sure you’re familiar with mindfulness and the phrase, ‘being in the present’ and how it can help you lead a happier life. Some of you have probably tried ‘the practice’ and gave up. Some of you logged it away as something you would try later, and some of y’all may think it’s crap. In the last two years, I’ve read approximately 250 books on this (and related topics) and after only a couple of months of persistence, saw the following benefits–
- All of sudden Psalm 46:10 ‘Be still and know that I am God’, made all the sense. #HesHere
- Creativity, business plans, divine inspiration, insights, miracles… in abundance. Got an issue that needs solving? Stop thinking about it and watch what happens (kinda like when you can’t remember that guy who sang that one song back in nineteen hundred and ninety five and you try really hard for like 15 minutes and then go about your day and then at like 2 am, you sit straight up in the bed and yell, ‘SHAGGY’ #MisterBoombastic)
- Better moods. When I feel myself going ‘there’, I stop, breathe and remember that nothing is wrong unless I’m thinking about it. And if something is wrong, here and now, I’ll either deal with it or not. Done.
- Better listener- hushing my inner noise gave me the opportunity to actually hear the other party and then offer meaningful responses and insights, instead of just half listening and anxiously waiting to interject my (often unwarranted) opinions and perspectives.
What it feel like, tho?
Many books I read shared why you should practice mindfulness, but I’d find myself trying to figure out if I was doing it right (which is just more damn thinking). And while this is all murky, subjective territory, it’s kinda like that moment when-
- your eco car shuts off at the red light
- you drive under an overpass during a rain storm
- the wind (which was being incredibly rude to your curls and dope sundress) stops for a sec
In those moments, you instantly register the stillness, the peace, the quiet– and you get quiet too. Silence on the outside helps you recognize the silence on the inside. Another example to make it more experiential (can’t remember where I read it) is to grab your cell phone. Cut the camera on and scan the room. The camera is registering the scene, but it’s not labeling anything (‘look at my struggly computer’)… it’s not providing commentary (‘it’s been running really slow lately’), it’s not judging (I need a new one). It’s just ‘looking’. Unlike the camera, thoughts are incessantly judging what’s on display, critiquing, commentating. Thoughts are kinda like a narrator. Do you remember Beavis and Butthead and how they’d talk over music videos? It’s like that… life is happening and all the while you have this really loud, quite judgmental, sometimes funny soundtrack laid on top of it. And just like with your TV, you can mute that ish. And when you do… #PeaceBeStill.
How to do it
- Body scan– relax your body to relax your mind. Only takes a second.
- Simply being aware of the thoughts (instead of lost in them) slows them down– you automatically #LevelUp
- Every time you notice that you’re lost in thought, come back HERE and focus on something present in your environment– like your breath, or your body (or present sights and sounds)! They’re always right here, in the present moment. I used to set an alarm to go off every half hour for most of my waking hours to remind me to come back. Once you get in the habit of being present, it becomes the new normal. #SnapBack
- Do it while you’re doing your hair. Wash day continues to be my most ‘unconscious’ time. It’s boring and I stay lost in thoughts about nothing. Try stopping thoughts for just a few minutes of your wash day. #BetYouCant #KeepAtItTho
- Unless those thoughts (of past woes or future worries) are actually leading you to take some kind of action, just…stop, boo.
- Re-read Power of Now and learn to recognize your inner body (that was my favorite), or get in the gap between thoughts and hang out there.
- Stop right now, and listen for a sound that you can’t hear. Don’t think about it. Just do it. Listen for a sound you can’t hear. That’s presence. That’s it! –Graham Ellis
- To piggyback on the above and make it more clear, put on a pair of headphones and play a song. I prefer trap, but you know, whatever works. Now, listen for the silence. Listen to the silence that’s all around the music, the silence that allows the ratchetness to be perceived. That silence is stillness… it’s presence, it’s NOW. Stay there. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to find the silence behind, within and all around every sound, even the annoying ones– like crying babies that don’t belong to you and car alarms.
Lastly, you can’t not be here (thoughts don’t actually take you away from the present). You’re always here, now. Always. When tomorrow comes, it’ll be NOW. But more on that later 🙂 I promised you a post on how you can use this calm and peace to choose happiness (the real kind that isn’t tied to material things) and get those blessings flowing, but you need to work on this first. #TheresLevelsToThis
Are you present during wash day?
If not, where does your mind go? Past or future?