Living in the Mind vs. Living in the Heart

I noticed something very interesting yesterday. For the first time since I’ve been back in the US, I started feeling disconnected. I went to a meditation group, talk and dinner that my Zen friend Robert holds on Thursdays, and I found that not only was my sitting very scattered, which is in contrast to some amazingly deep meditations I’ve been having lately, but also as he was reading from a text I found that it was almost impossible for me to follow. Given that difficulty, instead of listening to the presentation, I chose instead focused on myself, trying to understand what was happening within me and why. I noticed very clearly that my eyes were generally not seeing (see also previous post “Getting the Mind Out of the Way of Sensing“). What became very clear is that I was residing in my mind and not in my body and certainly not in my heart or belly. When I ‘looked’ to see where I actually was residing, it was very clear that my sense of ‘self’ was located firmly in the frontal lobe of my brain, about 1 1/2” inches above my eyes and about 2 1/2 inches deep into my brain. this was the locus of my being. I encourage you to try that yourself. Just ask yourself, without any preconceptions, “where am I today, right now?” and see where in your body you find your sense of self. It’s a curious question, I know, but you’d be surprised how clear the answer can be and also how much “you” can actually move about over time. (artwork above by Dale Wicks

So anyway, living in my mind may be a curious experience, but it’s not really very pleasant. It’s virtually impossible to be present, to attend to what is happening in the moment. The moment is such a beautiful place that leaving it and feeling the loss of that separation can be rather painful. Thus, I write some about it here in hopes of understanding it better so I can perhaps leave that place of presence less and less.

So what led up to this deviance from the present? Well, what changed is that I spent a lot of time on the computer, created a very long to-do list and spent my day focused primarily on getting through as much of that list as possible. What was really happening was that I was focusing on the future, and keeping very busy in doing so. More importantly, what was happening was that I wasn’t in the present while working on my future.

I’m noticing that the more time I spend on the computer, the more I’m living in my mind and not in my body, and certainly not “in my presence.” Think about this if you would…… how aware of yourself, your physical and emotional presence, have you been during this session of yours on the computer. My hunch is that the answer is “not very.” It’s so much easier to be on the computer than to be aware of yourself on the computer. When out in nature, it’s much easier, I find, to feel my presence, to be aware of my feet walking, be aware that I am seeing things, be aware of being aware of beauty, be aware of simply being there. Not so on the computer, and it seems to have an effect on my life, in that I can carry that fog forward all the way through a meditation and have it still remain to the point where I’m not really able to concentrate or focus. What helped to bring me out was one-on-one interaction with people. I do find that being with people helps to bring me out of this mind locus fog, but it can take a little time. It’s difficult attending to others from this place, but if I keep trying, eventually, I seem to be able to show up, and when I do, my eyes softly focus again, my locus seems to move closer to my heart and the interactions can become very dear.

It’s curious to watch myself teetering on this edge between remaining present and heart centered, and falling off to something much less present and mind centered. It’s something I want to keep paying attention to because living in my heart which strongly began for me in India and has carried through to my first month back in the states is a MUCH MUCH MUCH sweeter way to live than is living in the mind and is definitely worth paying attention to.

2 replies on “Living in the Mind vs. Living in the Heart”

Thanks for this post, Ted. Very true. I’m getting off the computer and heading outside to the ocean right now.

I hear you, Ted. it’s funny that even in our boldest truth we can sometimes find a delusion.

Good luck with your process on this. I will be looking to gain wisdom from your insights.

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