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  • Writer's pictureMartin Benefer

Empty Your Mind

Ever sat and admired the absence of thought in nature?

Have you considered how the same emptiness of mind could benefit you?

Thinking plays a massive role in modern life, and for good reason. It helps us reflect, determine what we want, prioritise, makes plans to achieve our goals and problem solve along the way to stay on track.


But it can also detach us from the world around us, reduce our connection to others and dominate our lives, detrimentally impacting our health, our effectiveness and our wider positive impact.

Thinking certainly has its benefits. But it is also has its downsides. Knowing when, why and how to stop is key.

I think therefore I am... (stressed, distracted and ineffective!)

Overthinking can lead to worry, anxiety and depression, seriously impacting health and wellbeing.

But it's not just your health at stake, it's your ability to function, to engage in the world and succeed at those things you've determined are so important from the very thinking you've already done!

  • Ever find yourself lost in your thoughts, missing what someone says?

  • Trying to think your way out of a problem, only to make it worse and spoil the day in the process?

  • Or take twice as long to complete a task because your mind is elsewhere?

It's critical to know when thinking is helpful and when it is not. And to be able to disengage from it so it doesn't dominate you - a problem that's been known for millennia...

"The mind is an excellent servant, but a terrible master"

(Buddhist saying)

Beginner's Mind

Disengagement from thinking is not always easy, to say the least! There are many tools and techniques out there to help and it's testament to the desire we all have to switch off that pursuits like yoga and mindfulness practice are now so popular. I encourage you to try a simple approach: Adopt a beginner's mind

  • Consider the enthusiasm of a wide-eyed child at play,

  • The focus of a dog with a ball,

  • Or yourself when you've been totally absorbed in something new.

Giving something your full attention, as if you were a complete beginner, eager to learn as much as you can, allows your thoughts to naturally fade away without any conscious effort. They're squeezed out by the uncompromising focus you place on the world outside your head to ensure you don't miss anything. The result? More connected and more responsive to the world around you.

Contrast that with the distracted thinker, disconnected from the outside world - concerned about the next question, the right outcome, the answer to the problem, how to act or how to help. By adopting this approach you move your focus inward, away from the world outside. You distract yourself from the present moment to the detriment of the person or task in front of you in need of your full attention.

Your focus moves into your head and your connection to the world around you is lost

Instead, by choosing to adopt a beginner's mind you allow yourself to set aside all you know and with it your judgements, expectations and assumptions. You empty your mind and, for that moment, give yourself completely to what's in front of you. So, if you find yourself overthinking, eager to empty your mind, simply try this:

Assume you know nothing and adopt a beginner's mind

To think or not to think...

Thinking and the absence of thought both have important roles to play if we're to be effective in life. There are times to think and times to stop. And we need the foresight and ability to choose which serves us best in any given moment.

Unfortunately, despite the benefits of an empty mind, we live in a culture that tends to revere thinking by default and squeeze 'not-thinking' into 20-minute slots of switch-off personal recuperation!

Without tipping the balance too far the other way, try fully incorporating both into your daily life.

Adopt a beginner's mind and see what happens. You may be surprised at how much more connected, effective and impactful you become, benefiting not only you, but those around you.

Good luck!


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