The Two Modes of the Mind
Your mind is always in one of two modes. You are either lost in thought or Present. Being lost in thought may also mean you are lost in your emotions. During these times you are disconnected from the infinite intelligence that is your birthright. Instead, the ego is in control and you become unskillful. When your thoughts get carried away with themselves and do things without your awareness they create impressions in your mind that cause problems. Being lost in thought is as fruitless, stressful, and tiring, as swimming against an infinitely powerful current.
When you are lost in thought the mind is unstable and you are trapped. Trapped in your ego or the prison of your own mind. Action from this state of mind is very limiting and restrictive. It is like a mobile phone without a data connection. It can only act based upon what it knows from its past experience without getting a live data feed from an infinite source. The only way that you can be in alignment with what the universe needs is through the present moment. It is only from there that you can think, communicate and act intelligently serving whatever the need is at the time. Enabling you to access true intelligence and positive direction.
We are trying to move away from being lost in thought, and towards being present, which I also call Mindfulness+. These Two Modes of the Mind are shown in the diagram below along with their characteristics.
The Two Modes of the Mind
When you are present, your thoughts, communication and actions are automatically aligned and love-based. This connection allows your mind to consider everyone and everything else. This is what makes it possible to act with love and kindness. When the mind is in this stable state you are liberated. You are free from the prison of your own ego, uncontrolled thoughts and emotions. You are at one with everything that has been, everything that is now, and everything that is to come.
I must point out to you at this stage that it is OK to think! We need to think in order to do things and operate within the world. Thinking that manifests out of a state of Presence is skillful and helpful. There is awareness around the thoughts. Most of the time you do not need to think. Even when you are talking, you do not need to think.
There needs to be stillness and spaciousness within the mind. I’m sure that you would have experienced this for yourself. You can recall times when you were very present and your mind was still and quiet. This can happen naturally when we experience love and beauty. Some people experience this when they are out in nature or keeping the body still during meditation. It can be experienced in very challenging situations when we are under pressure. The mind becomes extremely still enabling us to say or do something that is just what’s required at the time. This is how people do remarkable things, make incredible decisions and take action that literally transforms people and situations. Often our egos resurface after the event and we might say to ourselves “that was impressive”.
You can observe these two modes of the mind in yourself and others including influential people in the media. You can observe them and ask yourself if they are present or lost in thought. When they are lost in thought you know that what they say or do is unskillful and will cause harm. Often, the more influence a person has, the bigger their impact based on their mode of the mind at the time. You never know for sure what mode somebody is in. You can only guess. However, it is a good observation game to play and raises your awareness of the two modes of the mind. Ultimately, the best person to observe in this practice is yourself. Human beings that are not enlightened, which is most of us, will always have times when they are lost in thought and unskillful. It is the human condition.
It can be helpful to ask yourself “am I present?”. When you ask yourself this question you automatically become present. In fact, you have to be present to even ask the question in the first place. If you have friends that understand about being present then you can ask each other. Especially at times when one notices the other is lost in thought or unskillful. Similar questions are “are you here?”, “are you with us?” or “was you present when you did that”. Certain group activities lend themselves to being more present. I run spiritual study groups where we practice being present together whilst studying and communicating. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out the kind of activities that cause you to be present and those that cause you to be lost in thought. Engage in more activities where you can be present and less activities where you are lost in thought.
Bringing awareness to something real like the energy in your hands or another part of the body is a good tactic to regain presence. Use your senses by looking around, listening, smelling, tasting or touching. When you do this, you become present. You may want to take a moment now to stop reading and reflect on what it’s like to be lost in thought. When was the last time this happened to you and how did it negatively impact things? Then take another moment to reflect on what it’s like to be present. When was the last time this happened to you and how did it positively impact things?
To summarize, the mind is either lost in thought or present. You need to be present and we can all do that more of the time. It is achievable. Maybe just for small periods to begin with. We keep practicing and over time we see quite how far we have come. We look back a few months or years and are wowed by how much progress we can make!