From time to time, a piece of truth pops up that is so abundantly true that it demands attention.

Such a blistering truth arrived in my inbox yesterday with a clarion call of wisdom that I could not ignore. The words came in the form of a quotation from “The Way Of Liberating” study course by Adyashanti. He was responding to a question about obsessive thinking. How do I live with the constant noise of that incessant chimp chattering inside my head. Adyashanti says,

So let’s start at the beginning. Obsessive thinking arises from fear, anxiety, and struggle. These are the drivers of excessive thinking.

Thoughts run obsessively through my brain because I am afraid. Fear causes anxiety. I struggle with life because I am afraid. I try to ease my fears by escaping into the world of endless chatter inside my head.

So, when I observe obsessive thinking, I need to stop, observe the thought process and ask myself, “What am I afraid of here?” “What anxiety is driving this obsessional thinking?” “What am I struggling against?” “What am I resisting?”

So in an addition to the meditation practice, you may want to begin to contemplate what you are afraid of, what you are running away from. What you don’t want to deal with within yourself or your life.

By contemplate I mean to identify exactly what fears are driving you. What assumptions are they based on? What are you running from?

Obsessional thinking is a device I use in an attempt to avoid facing or dealing with the reality of my life. Rather than simply stepping up and taking action, I escape into my brain where I worry, fret, and tell stories, while all the time avoiding actually doing something that might have a positive impact on the situation I am choosing to feel frightened about.

But then, Adyashanti expands the challenge of obsessional thinking into a whole new realm, pointing out that

rampant thinking is your mind looking for peace. As if, if you could just think enough and understand enough, your mind could be at peace.

He goes on to suggest that the mind is the wrong instrument to use in the pursuit of peace.

But the mind never thinks its way to a lasting peace. In fact, in the mind’s rush to find peace and security it overlooks the peace that is already present within the presence of awareness. So contemplate what your mind is trying to run away from, and what it is looking for.

Instead of following the illusion that it might be possible to think my way to peace, Adyashanti suggests it is possible to open to the peace that is in fact already present.

begin to show your mind that peace is available in the present. Literally bring your mind’s attention to the greater peace of awareness.

Peace is present within. It is possible to find a peace that exists deep in my being, no matter what my external circumstances may be. If I can see my true fear and let go of the illusion that I can think my way out of fear and into peace, then the peace that is my true nature will begin to emerge.

In addition to the practice of self-awareness and honesty that come from the discipline of asking what I am afraid of, Adyashanti recommends becoming aware of my breath as an avenue to reconnect with my innate peacefulness beyond mind.

And give your mind something to do in the form of following your breath. Just follow the breath whenever you can during the day, because it will calm your nervous system and give your mind something to do other than to obsessively think. Of course thoughts may come, but anchor them in the breath. Be very, very patient and kind to yourself. Very patient and very kind.

~ Adyashanti

“The Way of Liberating Insight” Study Course

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul promised that

the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.(Philippians 4:7)

Peace is an inner state. Peace is not an outer condition. A peace that depends upon outer circumstances being a certain way will never truly be peace because outer circumstances always change.

By stopping, being still, and becoming aware of my body and conscious of the gift of breath, I reconnect with that inner state of peace that is always available and that no circumstance can destroy.