The modern world has erected countless monuments to the pursuit of thinking and thought. We greatly prize an active mind and engaging ideas. As a former engineer, I too prize a sharp intellect and appreciate the power of the mind to create many wondrous and horrifying things. The mind is a wonderful tool, but like many tools, it can and often is, misused and overused.
It’s been estimated that we think around 60,000 thoughts a day. Most of these are the same thoughts we thought yesterday and most of the time, they tend to be negative. Because our experience of life seems to flow from our thinking, most of us suffer as a result of these repetitive self-defeating thoughts. We’d like to think that we have some measure of control over our thoughts. But just try to stop thinking. How does that work?
Surely most of us have experienced, if only for a moment, the peace that comes from a quiet mind. Perhaps during a peak experience that came by way of some physical or spiritual discipline, or simply through grace. A quiet mind gives rise to being fully present, and being fully present tends to quiet the mind. A quiet mind, or living in the now, is not accomplished through the mind or by thinking about it. It comes by surrendering our engagement with thought, our instantaneous surrender to life as it is in this moment.
So how does one go about surrendering thought? There are many tools available. One that is very simple and profound is the practice of gratitude. We can choose to be grateful for every experience that comes into our lives, from the highest to the lowest. I know what you’re thinking, “How can I be grateful for the things I don’t want in my life?” Well, you can. Simply being in a body on this planet, even if it is in pain, is a miracle and we have the choice to focus on gratitude for that if we wish. If we don’t, suffering is assured. If we do, suffering in time, may fall to the background of our awareness, if not entirely disappear.
A powerful tool that I use is something called Ascension. In 2008, I attended a six-month training to become a teacher of this practice. Practicing surrender of thought for anywhere from 8-12 hours a day, I got to experience first-hand the peace that comes from moving beyond the mind and moving inward to rest at the source of thought.
Ascension is an extremely elegant series of tools based on praise, gratitude and love. These tools cut through our problem-oriented thinking and direct our attention to the deepest presence that underlies thought—to the source of thought itself. Ascension works with your mind, not against it. It’s profoundly simple and it doesn’t require a new set of beliefs. Ascension has more to do with unlearning old habits of thinking that have been in our way. Regular practice of these techniques will systematically erase your stress grooves from the past, so that your life unfolds effortlessly in the moment.
I offer free introductory talks on Ascension periodically, along with a weekend workshop where we teach the mechanics and practice of Ascension. Click here for more information about Ascension.