The power of stopping

This article is a response to a request to touch on the “how” of Stopping the Noise.  While there is much more to share about the “what” and “why” of the Noise, putting a few words around the “how” of it will hopefully provide come valuable context. 

We go. We do. We think. We act. We are busy. We are rewarded for our efforts. We are praised and recognized for what we have done, for our thoughts, for staying busy, for taking action. This is what we are supposed to do to be successful, to have things, to achieve, to win, to be happy. The more of this we do, the better life is supposed to be, so we don’t stop. We keep going and going and going and doing and doing and doing out of habit. 

BUT are we really happy? Are we being the kind of person we want to be? Are “things” that important? Is doing what we are supposed to do what we really want? Is the fear, worry and anxiety that comes from trying to do what we are supposed to do worth it? Are we really Being our Best? Are we being the kind of person we really want to be? Are we in sync, connected to something bigger? Do we feel complete? Are we content with who we really are when we are not busy, not doing, not thinking, not acting, not achieving, not winning? For many, the honest answer is not what we want it to be.

There is a better way. 

The Power to Stop the Noise — the feelings, the thoughts that do not emanate from who we are but rather from who we are not, from who we are supposed to be — is within us. The Power to Stop those thoughts and feelings that are so often rooted in distrust, filled with fear and burden us with worry and anxiety, is ours. We have the Power to Stop “trying” and “forcing” things to happen; to stop our pursuit of what we should want, should do, should think, how we should act, what we should know, what we should control for all that we need is already here within us. We, being who we really are, always know what to do, what is the best possible response to whatever life brings, in this moment. However, too often we choose to let the Noise take over. This is not deliberate, but rather a bad habit developed over many years.  

We have the Power to Stop the Noise, but how?  Knowing we have the power is not enough. Recognizing the difference between who we really are (Noise-Free) and who we really are not (Filled with Noise) is key. Breaking lifelong habits is hard. It takes effort, persistence, determination, trust, and commitment. We have all had to break embedded habits — our poor diet, our lack of exercise, smoking, our unhealthy response to certain events and so on. It takes practice and patience.  

The more we learn about our personal Noise, the more we are aware of it. The Noise can be loud; it can also be a low-level hum. It may be such a constant that it feels normal, as uncomfortable as it may be. Recognizing and then severing oneself from the Noise can be quite the challenge. 

Being in this moment is our Noise-Free refuge. When we are truly in this moment, we are letting/trusting what we really want, think and feel happen. This moment is the only place we are, and life is, so our response to whatever life brings is effortless and unthinking. It just happens. It is natural. Trusting it, without question, without second guessing it, is a new habit to develop. We all want to be right, to know the answer, to win, to succeed, to be sure, to not make a mistake, so we have learned to question ourselves, our natural response—the one that flows from within us. This is Noise. When we deal with each moment as it comes and leave those yet to come for another time, we live Noise-Free.  Being in the moment stops the questioning, the distrust, the fear and leaves us Noise-Free. To break the habit of living in the Noise means living in this moment only.  

If we try to live in moments past or future, we create Noise. Yes, we can think about, reflect, learn from, anticipate, plan in this moment for others. BUT we best not ask more of this moment, and those past and present moments, than what they have to give. We are designed and built for this moment only—no other. Spending inordinate time re-living moments past or trying to control and know moments to come is not natural. This distracts us from this moment, clouds our mind, and keeps us from being our best, from making the most of this moment — the only one that matters.  

Being and then remaining in this moment is hard. Very hard. Life brings so many distractions on top of the personal Noise we create. Expecting to live life Noise-Free every moment is unrealistic. For most of us there will always be Noise. However, becoming better and better at spending more and more time in each moment is realistic. Lowering the volume and reducing the frequency of the Noise is a reasonable expectation. Letting the Noise come, but also letting it go helps manage the Noise. It is what we do with the Noise that matters. Being patient with ourselves as we navigate this new way of living is the compassionate thing to do. Each Noise-Free moment is a victory.  Breaking the Noise Habit one moment at a time is the path to more victories.  

So, it’s clear that returning to and remaining in this moment is a requirement if we are to Stop the Noise. Here are some steps, in no particular order, that I take when I find myself in the Noise:

  1. Awareness of the little things that surround me that often go unnoticed. The color and texture of a leaf on a tree, the shape of the clouds above, the way a particular piece of furniture is constructed, the smoothness and colors of a rock, the amount of dust on a tabletop, the pattern of a fabric, the words on a page, the sound of birds chirping, the taste and smell of coffee, and so on. Simple, everyday things that are so often ignored. These observations help bring me back to this moment — my natural place. 
  2. Concentrating on my breathing also helps. Breathing from within, from my center, is what we naturally do each moment. Our breathing is different when we are in the Noise. Focusing on the deeper, controlled breathing that is Noise-Free helps pull me back to and keeps me in this moment, where I am, and life is.  
  3. Making meditation a priority helps me escape the Noise. By focusing on one thing, my mind becomes clear, and I am reminded of the power I have over my thoughts and the peace that flows from being Noise-Free.  

So, yes, breaking the Noise habit is difficult, but it can be done, but only moment by moment.

What we naturally want, think and feel is of this moment only. When we leave this moment, we abandon who we are and bring on the Noise. Recognition of and then stepping up to Stop the Noise, by returning to and remaining in this moment, achieves what life is about: Just being who we really are.  

More to come

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