Stepping Beyond Mind Identification

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6 mins read
woman looking at sunset
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There have been a few times when I’ve read something that I have paused, and knowing what I just read would have a lasting impact on me. Brene Brown and vulnerability, Robin Wall Kimmerer and being in relation with nature, Barbara Brown Taylor and finding altars in the world, and, just recently, Eckhart Tolle and embracing now.

As an internal processor, I spend a lot of time in my head. Rarely do I have internal silence. At various times in my life, this internal dialogue has turned very anxious, but, most often it is processing something that has struck me and come up from my past, or preparing and processing through something in my future.

None of this is strikingly bad, but Eckhart Tolle has given me much to wrestle with. I’ve just started reading “Practicing the Power of Now” and have several more of his books headed my way to read. A core idea he has shared so far revolves around the idea that we are so often in a mind-identified state

By this, he means that we are regularly giving prominent energy and focus to our minds and our thoughts. The problem with this is that our mind heavily resides with the ego and strives to always have an identity. The ego is very insecure and feels under threat often, so it wants to figure out how to stop undesired past events from reoccurring, it enjoys reminiscing when the past played out as we wanted it to, and it wants to prepare for a future event that could be a threat or wants to dream of an ideal self in the future.

Through all of this, it takes away from us being present. From being in the now.

A way to combat this is to become an observer of your thoughts. This part really struck me. I’ve talked about being an observer of your emotions and recognizing that they are an experience you are having but are not your sole identity. But, I’ve never thought to do this with thoughts.

So I tried it. When my internal dialogue became loud and full, I “stepped above them” and became an observer of them instead of feeling like my thoughts were me. And I was met with immediate peace.

Eckhart Tolle says being in the present moment allows us to engage in a higher level of consciousness. It allows us to step beyond the psychological time the mind-identified state puts us in which is always stuck in the past or the future. It allows problems we stress and get consumed by to lose their weight and instead become things we encounter as situations to address bit-by-bit as they arise in the present moment.

I’ve only just begun reading Eckhart Tolle and am sure I’ll come back with more to say. But, in a world that strives to make you think that happiness is somewhere in the future, that sells you messages of buying or achieving a certain status of materialism will give you the peace you’ve been searching for, and that makes most daily needs so easily accessible that we have an abundance of time to spend in our minds, Eckhart Tolle is on to something by reminding us that we have all the joy and peace we want already. We just never take the time to see it and are all too often stuck in our minds.

For my faith, Tolle writes in a manner that doesn’t tie into one specific religion. I found this allows me to make my own ties to what he is saying and my faith. By stepping above my thoughts, I’ve found times when I don’t feel a need to talk to God, which I often do in my head through my thoughts. Rather I just spend time at ease in his presence. I feel the scripture of Psalm 23:2 as I am at peace lying near God in a peaceful green pasture. Not needing to say anything or have a conversation, but feeling a calmness and groundedness just being near him. 

So, a few times this week, tune into your internal experience and notice if you have an internal dialogue going. If you find yourself in this mind-identified state, then mentally take a step above your thoughts and get a glimpse into a higher level of consciousness that will bring peace, ease, lightness and perhaps a new way of interacting with our God. 

Warmly, 

Kylie Larson, MA, LPC

www.illuminate-counseling.com


More resources…

Find Kylie’s reading commendations by clicking here.

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Outside of the therapy room, Kylie enjoys spending time with her family, exploring the world through the eyes of her son, adventuring with her husband, running around with her dogs, cheering on our Kansas City teams, gardening, being active, reading and exploring new recipes.

Professional Background
Bachelors in Elementary Education from Kansas State University, 2015
Master of Arts in Counseling from MidAmerica Nazarene University, 2020

Memberships
Kansas Counseling Association
American Counseling Association

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