For many of us, life is very full. At any given waking moment, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of things to be preoccupied with.
Most of what we think about from moment to moment tends to be concerned with immediate needs or problems: What should I wear today? Did I pay that bill? I’ve got an early meeting at work that I can’t be late for. What should I eat? …and on and on.
If you were to remove these sorts of thoughts from your mind, what is left?
To answer this question, there are some concrete steps you can take. There are different strategies for taking your mind off of these bustling, nagging thoughts.
One method is meditation. Meditation has grown in popularity over the last several years, and there are some suggestions that it can help to alleviate stress and reduce anxiety. There is no one sure-fire recipe to learn to meditate, although most methods involve focusing on something tangible, like breathing, to avoid preoccupation.
Another route to a peaceful mind is to surround yourself with a serene environment, like walking through a remote stretch of woods. If you remove reminders of your everyday life from your experience, you are less likely to think about it.
Yet another way is through intense physical exertion like exercise. Often your mind is able to let go of thoughts when your muscles are in action. This might be due to reduced oxygen available to your brain, or perhaps because of endorphins that are released during exertion.
Whatever method you use, one of these or something else altogether, what thoughts remain after the others are removed? Do you think of nothing? Or perhaps abstract thoughts become easier? Or maybe you become tuned in to the details of the world in front of your eyes.
What do you think about when your mind is not preoccupied?