Same goes for happy.
I got a great massage from The Blind People this morning. The Blind People work and live in my neighborhood. I’m glad that they have a place to work, make some money and help people at the same time. Today, there were four other people getting massaged as well. Everyone was talking and laughing. I actually ask for the same woman every time just because of the way she giggles when she hurts me. Even though I didn’t know what anyone was saying, I smiled all the same; everyone seemed so happy and it was infectious.
When I left, the sun was shining and looked up and saw those stunning Thai clouds drifting overhead. I was thought, “Wow, Thailand is amazing. I’m really happy right now just being here.”
Then, my mind stepped in. “Yeah, I hope it doesn’t all go to shit., “it argued. ”What would happen if you had a heart attack here. What would you do? Would they take you at a hospital? Would they let someone know back home? And how would they?” and on and on. It was only a brief second before I caught myself.
I realized that I was imagining being unhappy. I was perfectly content in the present moment, then my mind (or ego, as Eckhart Tolle would use the word) was totally dissatisfied with it being ignored and whipped up a story.
There is nothing (that I know of) wrong with my brain. It’s just doing what it was designed to do. When we humans were first starting our time here on this planet, our brains had one job, survival. We thrived because we could do something other animals could not; we could imagine. We could use our brains to come up with scenarios for survival. We could think of things that didn’t exist and make them exist, like weapons. Then we made things that had less to do with survival as comfort and convenience. We we created for the sake of creation, made art, music.
Today, our brain has relatively little to do in terms of survival, and yet, it continues to create scenarios for survival in the modern world. It spends countless hours making mental what-if movies…
“I can’t believe what he said to me! Man, if I see that guy again, I’m going to…”
“This vacation is going to be amazing! I’m so excited!”
“It was all my fault.”
“Do you remember how great Burning Man used to be?”
…clogging our connection to the present moment with fictional stories of the past and future, hope and fear.
If that isn’t bad enough, our bodies don’t know the difference between what is real and what isn’t. Your body will have the same physical reaction if you see something that makes you cry in the real world as it would when you watched a sad movie. You (the essential you) know that the movie isn’t real, but your body reacts nonetheless. How you think affects your body’s ability to function. Too much mindless thinking is hazardous to your health.
Becoming mindful, becoming aware of my thoughts, is the best thing that I can do for my body. This doesn’t mean that I don’t plan, and use scenarios to get things done. In fact, I get things done more efficiently when I work mindfully.
Going back to this morning, I did the most important thing I could do in the moment, I became aware of the thought. When I did, I laughed at myself.
Me: What a wacky thing to say!
Brain: (struggling to find relevancy) And yet, it’s a valid issue.
Me: Is there anything that I can do to address it?
Brain: I can look into Ex-Pat health insurance. I could make sure that all the people have all of the numbers. Get checked up again when I get back into the states.
Me: But is there anything that I can do RIGHT NOW as I stand here on a street corner in Phuket, Thailand?
Me: Well then, I will carry on enjoying the beautiful moment!”
Brain: Well…okay. (Brain grumbles and tries to find faces in the clouds instead.)