by Dan Everett
I have been noticing how thinking prevents me from actually experiencing life. When I have a sensory stimulus my mind immediately seeks to analyze it and define it with a word symbol. Then my mind uses the word and its pre-conceived meaning to replace the experience. As I have become more aware of this process I have begun to stop the thinking and experience life in a more present manner.
Let me give you an example. My son and I were walking through the park when he said to me, “Dad look at that tree.” I looked and I said, “Yes it’s an oak tree.” However, I only looked at it superficially, just enough to label it with the words ‘oak tree.
My son went on. “Wow, what a tree!” he said. I caught myself thinking about the list of things I needed to finish when I got home, so I quieted my mind and shifted my attention to the tree, looking closer without trying to define it. The leaves fluttered playfully in the wind and shadows and light danced through the branches.
“Let’s check it out”, my son urged. As we walked closer I noticed a change in the smell of the air. And I could feel the coolness on my skin as we passed through the shade from a large branch. We walked around the trunk and found a place to climb up. We sat silent for a time and just swung our legs.
This carefree, mindless action created a bodily feeling of connectedness both with my son and with the tree. A big grin spread across my face as I experience life flowing through me. I looked at my son and he was smiling too. We both laughed. After a while I jumped down. Then he jumped down into my arms and gave me a big hug. In that moment I knew he loved me, without his saying a word.
I suggest you try it. Your mind may say it’s impossible to stop thinking. Mine said, “How will you ever function in the world if you don’t think?” However, my experience has shown me that it is not only possible, it is a richer, more fulfilling way to live. Now I see that the mystery of life is not a problem to be solved with thinking, but a sensation to be experienced.