Too much thinking, not enough being

I think too much. I’ve been told this quite a few times lately. My doctor told me that my brain was working too hard. The Ayurvedic doctor I see in India flatly suggested I stop thinking. And then, the jnana yogi we visited in India confirmed that a person can definitely think too much (although this comment wasn’t intended directly at me the truth within the sentence was meant for all those who heard it).

I’m not advocating a complete shut down of my mind rather a gentle, and perhaps temporary, refocusing.  To help this new direction take shape I’ve taken up a new past time. Instead of pouring through scientific research papers about the benefits of various yogic practices, diligently transcribing Sanskrit or studying the psychological benefits of Indian philosophy I’ve begun to look at yoga picture books.

Not the kind of book that shows lithe bodies contorted artistically into yoga asana. Photo books about great yogis spiced up with a few of their anecdotes, Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul style. These kind of books used to either bore me or frustrate me. Now they fascinate me for their beauteous simplicity.

The other day I opened one such book to the timeless image of a yogi sitting completely relaxed, eyes closed as they felt the first light of sun rising over the Himalayas striking both their face and the waters of the Ganges simultaneously. When I closed my eyes I could feel myself being transported there, as if I was sitting on that rock. And I felt peaceful. A peace that I hadn’t been able to achieve with all my thinking.

The next page I turned to had this quote:

“Simplicity of life is the true secret of happiness.

[The] unhampered experience of joy, which lies within, comes out of simplicity.

Due to many things, due to many desires, modern man has unfortunately missed this.

Man has the key to happiness in simplicity.” Swami Chidananda.

My thinking has been making my life more complicated. I’d forgotten the simple peace that comes in being still and observing nature, whether that is a sunrise over the Ganges, or one over the misty ranges of the Blue Mountains that begin at the edge of my backyard. As a result I’ve decided to heed the advice of both doctors and yogis: I’m now taking it slow on the thinking and instead I’m trying to simply start being.

Image by jeminichronicles at flickr


  1. Kathleen

    April 6, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I spent the weekend camping and took many ‘things’ for my mind (in case I got ‘bored’). I ended up walking, swimming, sleeping and watching the many birds flying about. I felt connected, relaxed and at peace. Nothing much going on in the mind, just simple presence in nature. Bliss.

  2. Helen

    April 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Hi Kathleen, I’m the same. I always cram a few extra books into the car when we go camping. Once there I never use these crutches instead nature sets me on a different path of simply being. You’re right – it really is a slice of bliss.

  3. Jason Stephenson

    April 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Thank you for your writings. As I have recently started the practise of Yoga, I am gaining much from your experiences 🙂 Thank you.

  4. Helen

    April 26, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Hi Jason, Lovely to hear from you. I’m glad these thoughts are helping to shed another light on yoga for you. Namasté and I look forward to hearing more about your yoga journey.

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