Intermittent Fasting for the Mind
In recent times intermittent fasting has popped up as a bit of a trend for weight loss dieting. The concept is a pretty cool one (in my opinion) because it centres around using our bodies hardwired processes to their potential, and to our advantage.
When we deprive our bodies of food for a sustained period of time, this triggers specific biochemical processes to ignite which enable more efficient fat burning. Our bodies are born knowing how to do this, it is hardwired in to us, we just need to ask the question in the right way.
One thing that people do not talk about though, is how it is equally important to fast our minds. In this post, we will explore this concept a little further.
First, let me give you a little thought exercise to perform…
Consider a vase; the vase is constructed out of clay, but it is the empty space inside it that makes it useful.
Consider a wheel; the wheel is constructed of wood, solid and firm, but it is the empty space for the axel that makes it useful.
Consider a house; we build solid walls and make holes in them for the doors and windows, but it is the empty space inside the house that we live in.
In life, the presence of empty space, or you could say the void, is what makes things useful. In the void there exists the freedom for new things to emerge.
Let’s for a moment consider that the human mind is like a vessel, similar to a vase… The vase has been designed to brew things and as such it has a little tap at the bottom of it that releases the fermented brew. What comes out of the tap is tantamount to our thoughts, feelings and actions.
Positioned above the vase we also have two taps; a red tap and a blue tap.
The red tap represents our egoic mind. This is the part of our brain that is always chattering to us. Giving us information (energy) by describing things, judging things, worrying about what other people think, stirring up our fears, and ultimately just trying to keep us safe. This chatter is born from our perceived past and future – a concept called psychological time.
The blue tap represents the present moment. All of the information (energy) that can flood in to our mind when we engage with attentive presence what is right in front of us in the here and now.
Rubbish in Rubbish Out
What we choose to put in to our vessel, determines what we get back out of it. This is a pretty obvious fact, but what is not obvious to a lot of people is that we have a choice about this process.
The first step to making a choice awareness. By simply reading this post you have created new neural connections in you mind. You are now aware that there is a process happening. You have started to shape your own perception that a different choice is possible.
We first need to perceive before we can achieve.
There is no magic wand for this. We can’t just turn off the red tap and crank up the blue tap in an instant. It all starts by simply observing what is happening. Watching the flow from the red tap pour in to our vessel.
Creating the Void
Mindful meditation is the practice of focusing on the sensations within our body, quite often on our breathing to bring our consciousness in to the present moment.
When we observe the physical sensation of inhaling and exhaling, and feel how our chest rises and falls, our consciousness naturally falls to the present moment.
The physical human body only exists in the present moment. When we connect with our breath we move in to that present moment (the blue tap). This means that if the mind starts to chatter (the red tap), we are able to see it for what it is. Chatter of the past and the future.
Meditation is a practice which helps us refine the skill of attentive presence; consciously observing the present moment with clear focus. It is a skill because the more we do it, the better we get at it.
Key to meditation is an awareness of the red tap, and choosing to focus on the blue tap.
Adjusting the Flow
We can never really control the red tap, all we can do is influence it through the behavioural choices we make.
As I have mentioned, the first step is developing an awareness of the red tap and the kind of noise it makes. One we are aware; we can then start to exercise choice over which bits of the noise we focus on. All of it, some of it or none…
The less we choose to focus on the red tap, the less it will flow. This is a slow process of conditioning that happens over a long period of time.
Being aware of the presence of the red tap, allows us to be aware of our choice, which then through making the right choices creates the right conditions to influence the red tap and preserve our vessel for the present moment (the blue tap).
Quenching Your Thirst
The red tap is the bringer of our fears and anxieties. It is the headlights that make the rabbit stand still and freeze.
When we develop a capacity to fill our vessel with the blue tap, we unlock our potential for action, our potential to engage authentically with the world around us.
Life is a series of moments. A connected sequence of present moments that flow endlessly through time.
The present moment is the only moment that we ever have and it is the place where you will discover true happiness. It is the place where you can build real meaningful relationships with other humans. It is the place where you can connect with nature and the resonance of the universe as a whole.
The red tap is sourced from the neural networks of your mind. A thing which is fundamentally just a temporary arrangement of atoms (energy) existing for the lifetime of your body.
The blue tap is a pure flow direct from the universe.
Think of the blue tap as a mythical fountain of youth and vitality.
Maybe if our present moments align, we can take a sip together one day…
Enjoy, for now.