Question: My mind is never still and silent. Thoughts never stop for more than a few moments. How can I stop the thoughts? How can I be present if my mind is so active?
Leonard’s answer: First of all, you cannot stop the mind. The very effort to stop the mind is arising from within the mind. It is just another thought. But there is a hidden key that I share which will bring you instantly out of the mind into the world of Now. And when you become present in this way, thoughts will stop all by themselves, without any effort or intention on your part to stop them.
Here is the key. Gently remember to bring yourself present with something that is here in the moment with you. If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it or smell it, you can be present with it. And it is immediate. It is not a practice. It is a gentle remembering. The moment you remember to bring yourself present, thoughts stop and your mind falls silent. When you are in the mind, you are somewhere in the remembered past or imagined future. The one place you are not is here now. If you bring yourself fully present with something that is actually of this moment, you must come out of the mind to do so.
Close your eyes. Your body is breathing in the moment of Now. It cannot breathe outside of the present moment. Bring yourself fully present with the body as it breathes.
Bring yourself fully present with the sounds you hear moment to moment. Bring yourself present with the feeling of air upon your face. Even if you feel pain or discomfort in your body, be present with it and you will deepen into Presence. It is only when you are unwilling to be present with what is present that you begin to leave the present moment and re-enter the world of the mind.
When you open your eyes, a whole new dimension is available for you to be present with. Open your eyes, and bring yourself fully present with something that you can see in this moment. It does not matter what it is. When you bring yourself present in this way, you are liberated from the world of the mind and ego. You are liberated from the traumas of the past and anxiety about the future. You are liberated from all those limiting beliefs about yourself, others and life that you have accumulated from childhood. Thoughts stop. You are experiencing the truth and reality of life in this moment. You are awake in the moment of Now.
This can continue throughout the day, as much or as little as you like. You do not have to be present all the time, but you must be present enough so that the dimension of Presence awakens within you. The more you choose to be present, the easier it is to be present. If thoughts arise, just notice that you are thinking and very gently disengage from the thought and bring yourself present again. If you bring yourself present in the way I am describing, eventually you will become grounded in Presence and your life and relationships will be transformed.
Question: I understand the need to be more present in my life, but how do I deal with difficult emotions like anger or sadness when they arise?
Leonard’s Answer: If you are carrying repressed emotions from your past, particularly from your childhood, you will need to allow these emotions right of passage through you so that they can be released. Just feel the emotions as they arise within you. Identify them, confess them and express them in a responsible way, but do not become identified with them.
Do not believe in the story that your feelings are presenting. The story is always from the past. The present moment is free of the past. Whatever it is that you are angry or hurt about is not happening now, so it would not make any sense to believe in it. It is just a memory that you are caught in at some unconscious level.
Let the feelings up. Allow them conscious expression within you. One of the keys to awakening is to come into right relationship with your feelings. Everything that arises within you is seeking unconditional love and acceptance, even your feelings and emotions.
It is only when you repress your feelings that you create an inner disharmony, which eventually leads to disease.
Submit questions to author and teacher Leonard Jacobson for guidance on the path of presence by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail your questions to: The Edge, Ask Leonard, P.O. Box 25543, Woodbury, MN 55125. Include your name and mailing address. If your letter is selected for publication, you will receive a copy of the author’s latest book, Journey to Now.