Keeping the joy alive in your life

Each and every moment in our life we have a choice. We can choose to focus on our thinking, which is usually a reflection of our ego, i.e. past or future. Or we can choose to be totally present here and now. How do we let go or dethrone this pseudo identity, the ego, and still live a purposeful, goal-oriented life? There have been thousands of books written on how to do this, but there is a very simple signpost that Eckhart Tolle suggests.

That is, you become very attentive or gently watchful as you live each day. Whether you are eating, drinking, working in the yard or at work, you will find that you are either thinking about the past or the future. As one of these thoughts pop into your mind just watch or become aware of it.

You will notice something almost magical happening. For a very brief moment as you watch this thought, you will not be thinking, but feeling a calm peacefulness. In fact, in this observing you are not controlled or influenced by the ego. It is important to make this a relaxed, no struggling or disciplined effort. Rather, just practice this during your meditation periods and then gradually begin to apply it during your daily activities.

As you watch your thinking, you will notice how identified you are with physical forms such as cars or clothes. Your connections to mental or emotional forms will become evident in your relationships with your boss or your spouse. But you will be making progress when you begin to realize retrospectively or a few hours afterward that you have been sucked into identification with forms. Be patient with yourself and keep watching your thinking. You will be amazed in a few weeks; you will find yourself becoming aware that you are tempted to become identified with some past or future thought (form), but you are able to resist and not fall victim to this pseudo or false self, the ego.

There are some people who feel that less ego or thinking will result in having no goals and living a meaningless life. Quite the contrary: As you practice this effortless non-thinking or beingness, there will be a joy, energy and enthusiasm that you will have difficulty describing. Moreover, you will discover goals or passions that pop into consciousness. For example, my most effective moments in my career as a middle school teacher were when I just relaxed and stopped the mental preparation or analysis; and the ideas that poured forth created a wonderful connection with the children.

This is also true if you have a health issue. It is easy to become so identified or preoccupied with one's physical symptoms that you can seem to become healed. I am not suggesting denial, rather just a gentle watching and total acceptance of what you are experiencing. Yes, you will catch yourself thinking about your pain or how uncomfortable you feel. But just watch, and look very attentively at whatever physical scene you find yourself. When you are totally attentive to a flower or your favorite tree or your pet, your symptoms will become less and gradually disappear like clouds coming and going.

Ralph Waldo Emerson had a great quote when he said, "We need to get our bloated ego out of the divine circuits." In essence, we are divine each and every moment. That is to say we are innately joyful, enthusiastic, energetic and in vibrant health in each and every experience. This simple practice of attentive watchfulness of your thinking will bring about miraculous changes in your life.

Jim Hawes, a retired teacher, writer and spiritual practioneer, lives in Medford. You can see more of his articles at Rogue Valley residents may submit an article about Inner Peace of 650 to 700 words, to Sally McKirgan at

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