Who is it?
It’s the ego. The “I” in us. The voice in our head. The draining imaginary scenarios and negative thoughts. A false entity. They’re all one...and a shame. In my opinion, ego is the rearer of everything negative from professional and personal disconcerts, depression, addiction, inferiority, superiority, to unhappiness. Just name it.
You stab you
In the shower; on our commute; in a meeting; in the middle of a conversation; at home; during solitary moments, our attention is abducted by this eerie entity. We’re clawed by its constant bickering that tears our connection with the reality. If we inspect its modus operandi, then we’ll catch it either complaining and/or comparing every time it’s up against some challenge or threat. Further investigation will lead to traces of its incessant sense of lack. A lot of negativity to deal with, right?
The good news, however, is that this pessimistic approach is technically not our undertaking. It's of the ego that sieges our mind, convincing us we’re one and the same. An additional good news is that the choice is still in our hands: To either stick with this entity or submit to it. The latter, in my opinion, will have this ghoul whip us all the way to the doors of the seven sins.
Reverse-engineer your “self”
“I’m not happy with you.” “Who are you to tell me how to do my job.” “Why am I even alive.” “I’ll do it later.” “I’ll quit it tomorrow.” These are just examples of thoughts we latch on to (attachment), and as a result, in no time, we’re engulfed in negativity. But what if we nullified this pessimism. What if we used the “Thought Extinguisher” the moment a thought arose. What? You’ve not heard of it? Well, let me tell you how it works. Next time a thought floats in your mind simply let it sail away. I mean, it’s just a thought. Why attach yourself to it so ardently? Why so serious? Take my spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle’s word for it. He says, “Realise deeply that you are not your thoughts, but the observer of those thoughts.” So, try being the observer and also, use the Thought Extinguisher. It’s free! The best part: you won’t be charged automatically three months after the subscription—because there ain’t one.
I’m not anti-thinking. I’m an advocate of imagination that solves problems instead of breeding new ones. What I’m rallying against is egocentric pondering and its evident repercussions all around us. It’s like a crack in our touch with consciousness, popularly known as “living in the moment.” We’re physically present and mentally absent wherever we are. Eckhart Tolle has done a terrific job putting this succinctly: “Most people in the shower are already at work.” Relatable?
Just the Thought Extinguisher? Nope. An entire hamper of mindfulness.
Enter the Now and you’ll be gifted the power of focus, active listening, inner joy, and creativity. All this by simply being aware, conscious. For instance, instead of being seduced by thoughts in the shower next time, choose to remain present. Don’t be the thoughts, don’t identify with them. Instead, observe them. Notice the water, the light, the space around you. This itself is an act of consciousness. Permeate your entire day with such awareness.
And now, time for some additional measures to tame the mind instead of being tamed by it; to access the Now.
Every time you realise you're in the grip of thoughts, consciously shift attention to your breath. Inhale, exhale, feel your diaphragm and chest as you respire.
Meditate. And in the process, practice this extra bit to free yourself from those ambushing thoughts: Imagine leaving your mind—all the notions, concepts, beliefs you've ever had—out the door of your room, and just be. You’ll taste enriching emptiness and silence first-hand. It’s gourmet stuff.
Shift attention to your inner body. Feel your inner energy-flow starting from your head, face, neck, shoulders, and then all the way to your toes. Do this throughout the day.
Make emphatic use of the five senses. For instance, relish the benign flow of water while washing hands, or savour the crispness of the air while on a stroll.
These practices I’ve learned from spiritual teachers over time have worked for me in my professional and personal life. I hope you benefit, too. Good luck!