There’s a saying that’s popular in the yoga world, by a man with a very fit mind:
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
That’s from Albert Einstein. The biggest benefit of beginning to recognize that we have gotten caught up in this is rediscovering our independence from our rational mind’s stress, worry and anxiety and recognizing our intuitive mind’s capacity for freedom, peace and strength.
1 The intuitive mind. The intuitive mind can be understood as connected to our essential self, the part of us that knows we exist whether our rational mind is thinking or not. The intuitive mind is connected to that part of us that can witness our anxious thoughts, understanding we are separate from them.
2. Working with the intuitive mind. It’s possible to shift from letting the rational mind dominate with anxious, irrational messaging and shift into the freeing, peaceful, strengthening presence of the intuitive mind. The first and most powerful practice to enable this is witnessing. Witnessing means we consciously notice that we are thinking. One part of this practice can be labeling any thought—no matter what it is, but especially if it’s an anxious one—as thinking. So imagining that “It will be so overwhelming to have to speak in front of that roomful of people today” becomes simply “Thinking.”
3. This practice can be taken even further. An Ayur Vedic doctor I know recommends noticing whether or not the thoughts are “Imagining”, “Rehashing”, or “Planning.” So “When I go to that business meeting, there will be so many important people sitting at the table with me, judging what I’m saying” becomes “Imagining.” “He said that, then I said this, and then he did that” becomes “Rehashing.” And “When I get to the office, first I’ll check my email, then I’ll return that phone call, then I’ll start on the project that’s due next week” becomes “Planning.” When we label thoughts, it can help us shift away from the details of them and recognize their broader implications—we’re not present. We’re caught up in something that doesn’t even exist.