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Conscious action prevails over state

“The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.” Ram Dass


two people together looking at a laptop


Or your mind can be either an excellent tool for dealing with life, or a tyrant.







Brilliant on-board computer

Your mind is a brilliant on-board computer which, if you task it, will go to work, often overnight and over days, to come up with a solution to any problem that you set it.


For example, when younger, I spent a few days dismantling and reassembling my car’s engine, having changed its big-end bearings. Despite oaths and threats it wouldn't start. Exasperated, I went to bed and next morning woke up with the answer: I had not timed the engine correctly. I did, and it started.


How the mind does this is that its processing system scans its filing cabinets of your life’s memories and experiences, and identifies either a solution that worked in the past, or an innovation based on your past, that might work now.


This is your mind at its best: humming away in the background, guiding you through your life’s concerns and situations, using your experiences.


Or a tyrant

Untasked however, and if you are unaware, it can, and generally will, become a tyrant, looking for problems; worrying you about them, and distracting you from being focused and effective in the present.


Your mind evolved to have your body survive and in the absence of its being tasked, will task itself to seek out threats and then worry you with them using its same filing cabinets, though not to find solutions but to find problems. It extrapolates from your past and projects into your future which will be both a function of your past and, because of your mind’s inherent negativity bias, fearful.


You experience yourself worrying - fearing the future based on your past. When your mind is using itself and you in this way, it is unavailable for specific problem solving. Your mind has you, rather than you having it.


Prolonged worrying and negative thinking can also affect, adversely, your emotions, feelings, and mood. In other words the state with which you engage with the world. Worry also disconnects you from the people around you who then experience you as disconnected and unengaged.


Change how you relate to time

To break this cycle of worry, distraction, and anxiety, and leave your mind free to connect and access its truly creative power, you have to intervene. But how?


Change how you relate to time.


In the present there is generally no immediate threat to you so your mind resists being in the moment of now. If there were an immediate threat, it would come into the present and react appropriately but, otherwise, your mind will send itself into its interpretation of your past or its projection of your future to seek out possible threats.


But the past and future don’t actually exist; they are constructs of your mind, or fantasies, and there is nothing you can actually do in them - they’ve either gone, or are yet to come.


So your mind’s fixation with them splits its focus in the present which is the only time you can do anything about life.


Psychological time and clock time

Eckhart Tolle, in his classic book, ‘The Power of Now’, defines two types of time:

  • Psychological time’ which is identification with the past and ‘continuous compulsive projection into the future’ and

  • Clock time’, which relates to how you organise yourself in the world.


How you relate to both can relieve anxiety and enable you to be present and effective in the now.


When a situation has become a worry, you have allowed your mind to stray into psychological time when you can do nothing. The problem with worry is that it affects whatever else you are doing in the present moment; you are never quite present because your mind is on something, somewhere else.


Avoid psychological time; use clock time

To be free from present moment worry, just schedule when you will consider your problem, either alone or with others. This will be when you engage your mind to find a solution.


Just taking this scheduling action, stops the mind worrying and, knowing that it will be required to come up with a solution, pre-tasks it.


Having considered the problem or situation and come up with a solution - and sometimes that solution may be the least worst option - you then employ clock time again to schedule when you are going to take the necessary actions to move the problem forward.


Be present and free of worry

While actively considering your problem or situation and taking action on it you are present, in the here and now, and free of worry, as you are when you schedule your thinking time and action. Conscious action prevails over state.


So as soon as you become aware that you are worrying about or resisting a situation, schedule when you are going to consider it and when you are going to take action. Even not coming to an immediate solution but laying out the nature of the problem will programme your mind to work on it, subconsciously, overnight or over a period of time until you next consider it.


So be aware of psychological time and use clock time to transcend your worry and be present, free to use your mind as your wonderful servant.



Christopher Jones-Warner

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