However, all those distractive thoughts are only a prelude to the main event - the worries, cares and doubts that unsettle us and damage our feeling of wellbeing. For starters, our minds get addled by the silliest of things - often silly things like, five minutes after you've got on the bus you wonder if you unplugged the curling tongs! Then there are worries that permeate our days or keep us tossing and turning at night. As a normal person, you'll forever find new things to worry about. From parents worrying about wayward teenagers to people worrying about losing their jobs, from the money worries that appear to be plaguing more and more people, to those who are worried about their health, life throws all sorts of stuff at us that triggers the worry response. But the really interesting thing is that, when some big worry has passed, there will always be a queue of worries waiting to unsettle us. And what about this comment from a long-standing client: "I've been worrying about money and my business for the last five years - and with good reason, we were always on the verge of being broke. Then we won a couple of big contracts and, within no time at all, the business was flying and we were planning exotic holidays after not having had a decent vacation in a decade. Have I found peace of mind? Well, now I lie awake at night worried about the strange noise the washing machine was making, or annoying myself about a rattle in the car - things I never noticed when I had more important things to worry about!" The distractions, worries and silly thoughts are constantly queuing up, aren't they.
Unfortunately, under the cover of all that noise in your head, you will find that there are darker, less random, more personal thoughts - the voices that continually haunt you - that are most unsettling. Those thoughts of self doubt and fear that sabotage our peace of mind and, sometimes, our lives. These thoughts have nothing to do with the reality of the moment but arise from what psychology calls our 'stored knowledge' - what we learned about who we are during our formative years. From fear of public speaking, to feelings of inadequacy in social situations, from low self esteem to perverse beliefs in one's lack of intelligence, these thoughts ensure that peace of mind is a far off promised land, never to be reached. Yet, all these thoughts have one thing in common - they are the perverse creation of a subconscious mind that is obsessed with the past - that have nothing to do with the reality of the moment. But try telling that to yourself when you find yourself in a state of panic!
The well established fact is that, under the normal circumstances of everyday life and as a consequence of the manner in which the normal mind operates, the normal person will never, ever achieve peace of mind. But, if you do really want to go to that promised land, then, in your ordinary daily life, you are, in fact, only one step removed from it. Or, now that I actually consider what I'm writing, you are already in the promised land of peace of mind - it's just that you don't notice it!
And, believe it or not, simply noticing makes all the difference. Noticing is the key that unlocks peace of mind. Yes, psychology has established the link between your ability to notice and your ability to be on that so-called natural high. If you're not very good at noticing, you'll never be happy and content. The good news is that we all have an innate ability to notice, so we can all train ourselves to develop that ability.
To notice what? Well, what's before your very eyes. The reality of the present moment. Come to your senses and smell the roses! As things stand, your useless thoughts divorce your from the reality of now. They distort the reality of the moment, they unsettle you, make you feel uneasy, make you feel less than you can really be. But that's got nothing whatsoever to do with the circumstances of the moment, it's all the result of your useless thoughts. By playing the willing host to all these distractions, you destroy your ability to experience, through your five senses, the true reality of the here and now. Time to wake up, smell the roses, come to your senses.
So, why not set five or ten minutes aside each morning to come to your senses. Find somewhere where you won't be disturbed. That could be your den at six o'clock in the morning - but it's just as likely to be a packed commuter train where no-one is paying a blind bit of attention to what's going on (they're all lost in their own personal useless thoughts). Simply, one sense at a time, see, feel, here, smell and taste what's going on. Don't interpret it, just observe it. The more you practice paying attention to your senses, the more it will grow on you - and by bringing your attention back to the reality of the present moment, you will prevent it drifting off onto the thoughts that destroy your happiness and contentment. Peace of mind is here and now - all you have to do is open your eyes to see it. Copyright © 2011 Willie Horton.