“Get out of your head and get into your heart. Think less, feel more.” — Osho
One day when I was around 9 or 10-years old, I remember walking along a busy shopping street with my mother and suddenly being struck by the thought that, here we were, on a giant rock in some remote, far-flung corner of the universe, hurtling through space at incredible speed.
It seemed like I was the only one in the street who was aware of this astonishing fact. Otherwise they wouldn’t just be shopping. They would be standing around with their jaws dropping in utter astonishment and disbelief.
Isn’t it amazing how little we consider the extraordinary miracle of being alive—this amazing planet we live on, these incredible bodies we inhabit, the wonders of the natural world, the miracle of eyesight or hearing?
The fact that we exist at all is pretty mind-blowing.
And not only are we unaware most of the time, we even get bored and need entertainment to amuse ourselves.
Why is this?
As adults, our attention is kidnapped and held hostage by our busy minds.
In order to fully take part in the miracle of life unfolding moment-by-moment around us, we need to be present. We need to be aware of what’s going on in and around us.
But we are not.
We are so pre-occupied with our busy thinking minds that we simply don’t notice.
When we live in our heads, life can become a chore rather than a wondrous experience, an existence rather than a life.
As a kid, I remember leaping excitedly out of bed every morning, bursting with passion and enthusiasm for the day ahead.
Life was thrilling and carefree.
And of course, part of the reason kids are generally more vibrant and alive is that they are largely free of the duties, cares and responsibilities of being an adult.
But there’s more to the picture.
Kids are generally much more present in the moment than adults… and this is the key.
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Get Out of Your Head and Into the Moment
Here’s how most people’s day goes:
Late for work, you’re scoffing down your cornflakes, lost in thinking about the presentation you have to give later that morning.
You don’t notice the taste and texture of the cornflakes in your mouth, the beautiful songbird singing outside or the warm sun streaming in the window.
At some point you look down at the empty bowl in front of you but have no recollection of having eaten the contents (p.s cornflakes taste amazing when eaten mindfully).
Then you’re in the car driving to work. More accurately, your body is driving to work. You’re a million miles away… replaying in your head the argument you had with your partner the night before.
The sky is beautiful, the colours on the trees are stunning. It’s a beautiful day outside … but there’s no-one there to notice.
Next thing, you’re pulling in to the car park at work but you can’t remember driving there. Then you’re sitting at your desk counting the days till the weekend or your next holiday.
And this is how we live.
The miracle of life is going on all around us in every moment but we are too absorbed in our thinking minds to notice.
Life is happening here and now but, living in the not here and the not now, we miss it.
“If you think there’s something missing from your life, it’s probably YOU”—Robert Holden
Without present moment awareness, the days, the weeks, the months, the years all blur into one.When this is the case, life can feel more like a chore that an incredible privilege—more of an existence than a life.
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Get Out of Your Head and Take Your Life Back
There are two main consequences to spending our days lost in unconscious thinking.
If the content of your head is predominantly negative e.g. if you suffer from patterns such as anxiety, self-doubt, low self-esteem or depression, it’s self-evident that it will directly affect your quality of life.
But there’s another consequence that many people don’t consider; you miss out on living life to the full.
The past and future only exists as thoughts in your head. they are devoid of Life.
And even if the content of the mind is not particularly troublesome, still you will miss out on the magic and wonder of the present moment—miss out on the full experience of life now.
I often talk to people who are not too troubled by negative content in their minds but feel that life feels a bit flat, dull, boring or meaningless.
Contact with the present moment is always the remedy. That’s why kids are generally so joyful.
So how to get out your your head and become more present?
Awareness is the answer. We first need to make unconscious thinking conscious. We need to step back and become the observer of the mind.
We then need to make the conscious choice to shift our attention away from the mind and onto the present moment.
Here are 7 ways to get out of your head and into the present moment;
7 Ways to Get Out of Your Head and Into the Moment
1. Bring your attention to your breath. When you are aware you are lost in thinking, gently bring your attention to the movement of the breath flowing in and out of the body. You’ll find that your attention can only be in one place at a time. Through focusing on the breath, thinking will naturally stop. If the tendency to think is strong, you could also add counting to your practice. Count your breaths from 1–10 and when you reach 10 start again at 1.
2. Become aware of the physical sensations in your body. Shift your attention away from the mind and onto the physical sensations in the body. Pay attention to the points where your body comes into contact with the chair, notice the feeling of the soles of your feet pressing against the floor, be aware of the different parts of the feet—the toes, the skin surrounding the feet. If you really pay attention, can you feel the life force inside your feet—as a pulsing or a tingling perhaps?
3. Perform daily tasks mindfully. Be more mindful. Eat your food consciously. Notice the texture and taste of the cornflakes in your mouth. Be aware of the tendency for the mind to drift off into thinking and when it does, consciously come back to the present moment. When you brush your teeth, wash the dishes, drive the car, do it with your full attention. Engage all the senses.
4. Watch your thoughts/ notice the gap between thoughts. There’s a great exercise I like to share that only takes a few seconds. You might want to shut your eyes right now and try it. Like a cat watching a mouse hole with 100% attention, watch to see what your next thought is going to be. Open your eyes when it appears. You’ll most likely discover two things:
1. You had no idea what the thought would be.
2. You felt fully present.
Alternatively, you can also use awareness of the space between thoughts to anchor your attention in the present moment.
5. Awareness of sound/ awareness of silence. Similar to focusing on body sensations, you can use awareness of sound to anchor your attention in the here and now. Far off sounds, nearby sounds, even the sound of silence. When I’m in a noisy place like a city centre, I like to play with putting my awareness on the still, silent space behind the noise and the activity. All noise, activity, movement happens against a backdrop of stillness and silence. If you are still, you can sense it.
6. Awareness of movement . The Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, has been a hugely influential teacher on my journey. Mindful walking is one of the main practices he recommends, particularly walking in nature… and in silence. Walk slowly, in a relaxed way. Breathe in and take one step, and focus all your attention on the sole of your foot touching the earth. When you have arrived fully, breathe out and fully mindful, take the next step.
7. Sitting Meditation. On my own journey, there is nothing that has helped more, nothing that has been more transformative than having a daily sitting meditation practice. Discovering the still, silent space within (another word for the present moment) and learning to live life from that place will help you get out of your head at will and light up your life.
If you’d like expert help with creating a daily practice, email me and I’ll be happy to set up a Zoom call and show you how.
Spending your days lost in incessant thinking is a habit. And like all habits, it can be broken with practice.
Use the above strategies to get out of your head and put your attention instead on the present moment.
It will enhance your life in miraculous ways.
As the Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh says:
“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment, feeling fully alive.”
1 thought on “7 Ways to Get Out of Your Head And Embrace Life Fully”
Thank you for this beautiful reminder on how we can find peace in this crazy world. 🙂