What if living a supremely peaceful life is a lot easier than we’ve been making it out to be? What if you could quickly and easily find a deep sense of inner peace whenever you chose to do so?
By learning how to ‘live in the now,’ this is very possible.
You’ve likely heard the concept “live in the now” and understand its importance, but most of us have a racing mind that gets in the way of this. What can we do to make our life easier?
Today, I’m going to share with you a few simple but key understandings that have served me greatly in life. I’m sure they will do the same for you as well.
You can watch or listen to the full podcast episode below, or if you’re short on time, you can scroll down to read the summarized written version.
You can also read a summarized version below, or click here to watch the full episode on Youtube.
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1. Focus On Context, Not Content
There was an interesting study done some years ago where they measured the brainwaves of Buddhist monks while meditating and compared them to the brainwaves of ordinary people…
They discovered that the monks had an uncanny ability to quickly go from an ordinary state of consciousness, marked by what is called “beta” brainwave frequencies, into a deeply relaxed and meditative state of consciousness, marked by “alpha” brainwave frequencies.
This essentially means that the monks had trained their mind to be able to enter relaxed states of consciousness at will, whenever they chose to do so.
Ordinary people they pulled off the street did not seem to have this ability. Even when trained in different meditation practices, they remained in a somewhat stressed state of consciousness and could not move their brainwaves from ‘beta’ into ‘alpha.’
That is until they figured out what the monks were really doing when they entered these states. It turns out that they were focusing their mind in a very specific way.
They were focusing on what I call “context” whereas the ordinary people had a mind that was constantly focusing on “content.”
This is the key difference. A calm mind that lives in the now, the peaceful present moment, is a mind that focuses mostly on context and not content.
What does this mean in practical terms?
Change Your Attention Style
When you look around your physical environment, you see lots of physical objects, right? Trees, tables, chairs, cups, paintings, people, etc. This is all “content,” and it’s what the mind LOVES to focus on. It jumps from one thing to another, constantly searching for something interesting or worthy of its attention.
The same kind of thing happens when we scroll through social media. This kind of focus creates “beta” brainwaves and leads to a mild or sometimes very high level of anxiety.
The opposite of this kind of focus is called “contextual” or “open” focus. It is a very different style of attention that leads to a calm, clear mind and puts the brain into the Alpha brainwave frequency range, which is correlated with positive emotions and a feeling of contentment.
How to Focus on Context
Focusing on “context” is analogous to focusing on the empty space that surrounds all things in your environment rather than focusing on the things themselves. Instead of the mind focusing on individual objects, it relaxes its attention and expands the visual field of awareness to include all things simultaneously.
You can practice this now.
Simply become aware of the empty space that surrounds all things.
Notice that the mind cannot focus on empty space in the same way it focuses on objects. It instead requires a relaxed awareness, sort of like using your peripheral vision where you are aware of everything in your entire visual field but you are not focused on any particular thing of object.
Practice With Your Inner World Too
Now, to deepen this practice, translate the contextual focusing technique to your inner world. Just like physical objects require empty space to be perceived, your thoughts and emotions require a place of stillness and silence. Notice this inner silence…
The mind tends to focus solely on thoughts, feelings, and perceptions, but there is more to you than just this…
Your thoughts and emotions are the content. The silent field out of which they arise is the context.
Access the Silence Beneath the Noise
Deep within all of us is a pure, silent, peaceful place that cannot be disturbed. Thoughts and feelings come and go but this silent place never changes or goes anywhere. It is ever-present.
Like the empty space in the physical world, the peace within has no content. Don’t look for a thought or feeling. Look for what those thought and feelings arise out of. Look for what comes before them, the thing that makes them even possible.
I call this silent place “awareness.” It is the part of you that watches and witnesses life and all its expressions but does not make a comment or have an opinion about anything. It just observes. That is all.
How to ‘live in the now’ all the time? Simply choose the silence over the noise, and give your attention to objects and people only when necessary. The rest of the time, rest in the silent place within.
Train your mind to live in the now
You will encounter challenges with this for one reason: The mind is programmed and deeply conditioned to focus on content and not context. It has been doing this for practically your entire life, so it is not realistic to expect it to stop doing so immediately.
It is a deeply engrained habit, which is why what I call “mind training” is required.
You can access my free Bliss By Design course here, which covers a powerful 4-part mental training process that reverses this anxiety-producing habits and gradually trains your mind to remain present in the now, with peace, love, and gratitude for life.
2. Make Peace Your Goal, Not Perfection
If you’re someone who is genuinely interested in self-improvement or spiritual growth, chances are you’re a little hard on yourself sometimes and tend to expect more rapid growth than you feel you are actually experiencing. It’s the “perfectionism” trap that I think so many well-intentioned people fall into.
What helped me overcome this was reminding myself regularly that peace is the goal, not perfection. This means that you have to learn how to be at peace with your non-peaceful feelings.
You have to be at peace with your depression or anxiety. You have to find peace with the fact that you will make many “mistakes” in your life because you are human, after all.
This is the opposite of what the mind wants to do. It usually tells you that you have to change or improve yourself and force those changes to happen. Notice though how this only creates an internal resistance and perpetuates the feelings of not being “good enough.”
Do the counter-intuitive thing
It’s very counter-intuitive, but the fastest way to get rid of your so-called “imperfections” and negative qualities is to accept them completely and have compassion for yourself.
Radical self-honesty and gentle awareness tends to dissolve the negative emotions that are associated with these flaws, thus turning them from “problems” into simply “what is.”
3. Release Suppressed Emotional Energy
You’ve likely noticed that when you try to quiet your mind and ‘live in the now’ that your mind doesn’t easily cooperate. You can tell your mind to shut up but after a few seconds it goes right on chattering.
To live purely in the present moment 100% of the time seems like an impossible task. The best we can usually accomplish is a minute or two of relaxed presence. What can we do?
Empty the mind’s Fuel Source
What most people don’t realize is that their mind is driven by their emotions. It is the negative emotional energy within us that powers the mind’s thoughts.
They are the fuel…
No matter how hard we try to quiet our mind, if we do not empty out the negative emotional energy, thoughts will continue to be generated in an endless stream.
It’s like a volcano. A volcano erupts after decades or centuries because the pressure underneath the surface reaches a critical tipping point and then needs an escape path. Our emotions are the pressure. Our racing thoughts and emotional outbursts are the eruption.
Our habitual thinking patterns tend to perpetuate the creation of this emotional pressure, and round and round we go in cycles of fear, self-doubt, worry, and anxiety.
How to live in the now? Stop trying to live in the now and just be in the now!
The fastest way to break this cycle once and for all is to ignore the thoughts and stop trying to control your mind.
Instead, go to the emotion and start releasing it by allowing it to be and accepting it completely. Stop resisting the emotion and trying to change it.
This releases the pent up emotional energy, and the mind then automatically becomes calm and silent.
When these emotions are continuously released, you begin to become the master of your mind. Instead of it doing whatever it wants, you can calm it at will anytime you wish, returning to the present moment where your peace exists.
If you’d like extra help with mastering this powerful emotional release process, signup for my FREE Bliss By Design training course below.
That’s all I have for today, but I hope you’ll come back for next week’s episode.
Before you go, be sure to join my free Facebook group here, follow me on Instagram here, and/or subscribe to my Youtube channel and podcast here so we can continue to learn, grown, and evolve together on this path to a more peaceful & prosperous life!
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