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Ever heard the phrase “I think, therefore, I am”? Most people I ask in my practice acknowledge awareness of it, making it a commonly held societal belief that their mind is the source of their identity. They believe the voice in their head they call thinking is who they are. It is this belief that stands as an obstacle  to present-moment-focus.

We are a society of thinkers. The human condition is lost in thought. Ever drive down the freeway thinking about something then look around after a while and not recognize where you are, discovering you missed your exit ten miles back? Who was driving the car? I call it autopilot. Your programmed mind was driving. I consider this a clear example of what we’re doing most of the time, driving down the road of life lost in thought, running on autopilot, hardly more than a stimulus-response robot. Is that living? Under this condition we have no choices. Every time we come to a choice point, our programming makes the decision. Think of all the decisions you’ve made that you regretted. Who really made them, you, or your mind?

If we wish to rise above this level of life, we must become aware of autopilot and release our identification with mind. The human mind is a powerful tool but it is not who we are. It is so powerful that our body reacts to every thought we think. We call that reaction emotion. If you think upset thoughts about some past event, you relive the original emotions as if they were happening for the first time. Fear thoughts about the future produce anxiety and panic. For many, their mind is a source of torture that drives some kind of addictive behavior.

To combat this dysfunction requires the creation of an inner sentinel, a Watcher. The intention is to disconnect our sense of self from our thinking  process. The mind is a powerful tool, but we don’t treat it like a power tool for which the instructions are: “Be careful, watch what you’re doing, you might hurt yourself.” Thinking is so powerful it can kill you (suicide is death by mind).

So begin by kicking the mind out of the driver’s seat and start making every action with conscious awareness. Watch your thought process diligently. Remember, if you are thinking, you are using a power tool. Make sure you watch what you’re doing and have a clear intention.