Practicing Being in the Moment on a Beach in Kauai
As I sit on an amazing sand beach located on the island of Kauai, surrounded by green and lush with mountain silhouettes in the background, and a blue ocean stretching far as the eye can see in the foreground, I think, “can I be in the moment and turn off my mind?”
Thoughts filer through, such as, “I should have continued to work out,” “if only my stomach was flatter, like that girls,” “if only the sun would come out to stay, I came all this way and it has rained for 5 days,” and “did I remember to blow out the candle in the bathroom?” Finally, I stop and look around. I laugh at myself and realize I was just gone for a moment in time, lost in my thoughts. “STOP identifying with your thoughts Wendy,” I tell myself, as I laugh again….Do my thoughts, I wonder, ever give up?
The cosmic joke is to love what is, no matter what it is. Can I love my thoughts and not identify with them? I come back to the moment over and over again, the thoughts filters through my brain continually and I repeatedly stop and notice them, but while trying not to identify with them, despite whether they are good, bad or indifferent thoughts.
This dis-identification from our thoughts is like practicing a sport. After a while you automatically respond and move without having to think about the movement anymore. As neuroscientist, David Eagleman, describes in his book, Incognito, “conscious parts of the brain train other parts of the neural machinery, establishing the goals and allocating the resources.” Eagleman uses the example of Wimbledon tennis players, who “are rapid, efficient machines that play tennis shockingly well. They can track a ball traveling ninety miles per hour, move toward it rapidly, and orient a small surface to intersect its trajectory.” As he notes, these professional athletes do most of this without consciousness.
Laughing at yourself is an important part of dis-identifying; otherwise you would feel emotion attached to the thoughts that are filtering through your brain. If I would have identified with my thoughts while sitting on the beach, I would have felt disappointment, sadness, anger and worriment. Like professional athletes, you too can train your brain. Wow! Putting my body though all that emotion over thoughts that I don’t have to identify with seems rather silly, especially while sitting on a beach (rainy or not) in Kauai! Aloha!
Eagleman, David (2011). Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. New York, New York.