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Quieting the Mind

People talk a lot about needing to “quiet the mind”, and I get it, but I’ve just got a really different take on it. When people talk about “the mind” like that, they are referring to the chattering in the head. To me, ‘mind’ is something else: as I experience it, my mind suffuses the totality of my being. Furthermore, only when the whole of my being is present to an issue does it feel like I’m really thinking. What passes for thinking in our culture is something else: the thinking that is segregated in the head. That kind of thinking specializes in patterns of expectation, and primarily occupies itself with them – recombining them, revising them, colliding them together, and rearranging them. As a result, it tends to circulate within a closed loop, unable to step into newness.

What “quiets the mind,” as our phraseology puts it, is when we open the loop so that our segregated thinking is brought into relationship with the deep intelligence of the body. The chatter, by joining the whole, loses its reactivity. But for me, that isn’t quieting the mind – it’s activating the mind. When my thinking escapes the white noise of stale patterns being shuffled around in the head, and drops deep into the body, it enters a state that feels by contrast like pure signal. It is a form of thinking in which every cell in the body attunes and contributes; a form of thinking that draws on the harmonies at the depths of my being, and feels its way forward beyond stale pattern into newborn form. And that thinking feels its way forward not alone, but hand in hand with the present. It is what I referred to in New Self, New World as ‘corational thinking’. In the deep currents of that state, thinking, being and the present are a unity. And then what I experience as ‘my mind’ is what I would call ‘the thinking of my being’; and it is in that attuned state of flow that I feel my mind in its most truly activated state. Rather than seeking to ‘quiet my mind’, then, what I truly seek is to activate it.

animal, aquarium, aquatic

7 thoughts on “Quieting the Mind”

  1. Are you aware of “PolyVagal theory”, currently propounded by Bessel vander Kolk & (?) Porges (YouTube). Challenging the reigning, (& health Insurance paid) “CBT/medication model”. See also NICAMB… Best, Peter Parsons, LICSW

  2. Cathy Shap Stocker

    Philip I experience the thinking of my being whenever I read anything you’ve written. This resonates so deeply with me. I love how you turn everything “upside down” and in the process return us to sanity, to harmony. Much gratitude for your incredible generosity–I know you pour every ounce of your being into your work that is your life. Well, your “work” IS your BEING. Thank you for sharing its brilliance.

    1. Philip Shepherd

      As the longest day of the year unfurls its unhurried brilliance, it’s particularly wonderful to read this, Cathy. Thanks for these gracious words. You’re right about how much the work matters to me, and about how much language – it’s life and rhythms and precision – matters to me, and it’s really gratifying to feel that acknowledged and seen.

  3. Hello Philip
    I have discovered only a skim of your life-enquiry, if I may use that term .. a phrase I use, when people ask me ‘What do you ‘do”, as I have been forever more interested in all that weaves within my vocational-occupations.

    I am relieved, joyous, expanded to discover another person who applies the word ‘mind’ to intelligence or imagination – and clearly different from brain-processing, thinking-thoughts.

    I coach, guide, inform, enjoy, enable body-felt-sense in aspiring drama students / actors and enquiring souls. Hara – or our western words for this – so vital, so vital – separates the enacting storyteller from the often hardworking (hard-thinking) mechanical typecast.

    I find your care with words and phrases, comforting.

    My realm is the sounds within words via senses and sensibilities, often starting with felt sense as hearing … and how live communication (verbal and non-verbal) is received, informed by vibration …. of breath, vocal tone, auras, somatic matter! .. imagination .. curiosity … Might you agree curiosity is the reconnaissance of the grand array?
    I too ‘coach’ presence through various paths for various applications … as various as folk, who find me perhaps to encounter this. So, in this way, we meet extraordinary souls.

    My abiding felt-sense, innate and honed instinct, is that it’s a misconstruing of presence to believe that the control tower can ‘conduct’ it. When this happens, any seeming presence-energy is squandered, evaporates, dissipates …

    Whenever you find this communiqué, please excuse my ramble … Different lives, maybe about same age, different cultures and genders, experience of different cultures and yet … I recognise your truth and it feels to me, like being.
    _/\_ namaste _/\_

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