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Thinking is not living. Thursday August 6, 2015

My friend Martin Stepek wrote this the other day – I think it is worth sharing.

"We are often consumed by our thoughts: concerns, planning, worries, anticipating, daydreaming.

Thinking is not the same as living. It's more like a commentary on a film than watching the film itself, or a guidebook to a city than being in the city itself.

So what is living?

Living is the raw experience we can only ever have in the present moment. And it can only be experienced in six ways – through our five senses and the immediate, undiscerned mental or emotional reaction to the events of any moment.

We know our five senses well even when we ignore their power or potential – and they do have power.

I was walking in Chatelherault Country Park yesterday, enjoying the views, plants, raindrops that were still settled on leaves. Then I noticed that my mind had wandered to Switzerland, to where my son is, newly out of hospital after a major scare.

This was me unintentionally thinking, ruminating on the ups and downs of his life in the past two weeks.

I let those thoughts and feeling evaporate by placing my attention to the raw sensations around me, and I was immediately hit by a beautiful smell of wet grass.

This instantly triggered a sense of raw pleasure which I was able to just be with, followed by a sense of appreciation that it was mindfulness practice that enabled me to move from serious thoughts to a lighter joyful real life sensation.

This doesn't mean it's wrong to think. That would be absurd: unhelpful in our lives, and moreover, impossible anyway as they come so thick and fast.

Instead we should think when we choose to think, when it's appropriate or helpful to think.

And we should choose which thoughts and feelings and moods and emotions to have rather than be pulled around in every direction, good and bad, at the volatile random whim of our minds.

Those unasked-for thoughts and moods so often remove us from being aware of our real life, the visceral tangible power of what our five senses and immediate mental response can bring to us.

This is why mindfulness is so important and helpful in our lives. It literally brings us back to the moment and all that is full and present for us in that moment. It is where joy and appreciation reside.

Think when you need to think. Thinking is a remarkable tool, but like any tool it is only useful when you use it at the right time and for the right purpose. And don't lose life through overthinking."

When could you let go thinking today and 'be' in the moment?

A Moodscope member.

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Sally Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 6:50am

Very good indeed. Food for thought, Les. Thank you!

Anonymous Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 7:57am

Thank you Les. I'm still wrestling (sometimes winning, sometimes not) with meditation as it has started to show me my wild horse mind. I loved your blog this morning, it's come as a reinforcement and encourages me. Love from the room above the garage x.

Adam Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 8:55am

Yes! Great post!

Anonymous Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 10:38am

Thanks very much - the part about being pulled around by random thoughts and whims is so right! Thanks for sharing this

Julia Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 10:39am

I am wrestling with mindfulness too. In theory it sounds wonderful and the living in the moment and not thinking must be good for us over thinkers. I think my problem is more to do with me! I always feel I fall short of the practice when I'm doing it and quite often cannot wait to get it over with. But Martin's writing is so convincing! And I also trust you Les to know what is right.

Anonymous Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:05am

Hi Les, your friend Martin is brilliant. This is one of the most beautifully clear explanations of mindfulness ever. Please thank him for us and thank you for posting it.
Seeing those words 'don't lose life through overthinking' makes me quite emotional. Onwards and upwards! Hope you are doing well. susan xx

Mary Blackhurst Hill Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:32am

I'd like to echo Susan ' s words above. Spot on and most helpful for me today.

DawnC.Ritchie Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:53am

I had an experience like this only last week. I'll write a blog on it this weekend :D x

Anonymous Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 12:15pm

I could have, and should have been letting go of thinking (and especially over-thinking) twice already today: the first time whilst walking the dog and the second whilst I was weeding the garden. Instead, during the dog walk, I was cross that I had to keep up with my husband who walks faster than I do and then cross that I was too hot! During the gardening, when I should have been appreciating the lovely flowers that still bloom, I was thinking about how a neighbour has upset me a few weeks ago and it still hurts...and as I see her garden from mine, it brings the moment back. I know it is silly to hold on to what happened a few weeks ago, but I hate upsetting people and I hate that she thinks nothing of upsetting me....especially whenever she calls on me for something, I drop tools and go to her straightaway.

This afternoon, after lunch, I am resolved to gardening without thinking....smell the roses, appreciate the blooms whether they be weed or not!

Thank you Les, as has been said above, Martin's words are well-written and make mindfulness easier to reach. Karen (

Anonymous Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 2:05pm

Hi Mary, i'm sorry you're feeling low today. You love colour so much that i must ask: have you tried the new colouring books for adults? Possibly a way to be in the moment although i don't know, haven't tried them. Hope you feel better very soon. susan xx

Eliz Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 4:18pm

Beautiful Les! xxx

Ece Erdem Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 9:45pm

Amazing commentary. I realized that myself while I was reading books about awareness. And I practiced mindfullness, that changed my whole life, the way I look at things. I started appreciating what the divine creator created, and it taught me love, patience, and slowing down to realize beauty hidden in little things. thank you for that enlightning post :)

Melanie Lowndes Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 10:50pm

Great post and great thought for the day too! Thank you Les.

Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:16pm


Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:22pm


Mindfulness for me is simply being more and more self aware......which you can do more simply, in any moment, than more formal meditation.

Both can for sure help......and kids just love the mindfulness activities where you simply accept what is going on around you - even someone storming out swearing.....that is with it....and notice where your own thoughts go......and live in that 'present' called now.

Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:22pm


Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:24pm

Hi Anon

We are all so easily pulled around.....and we of the say we have no time....usually not the case.

The most important thing to decide is what is important and stick to it!

Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:32pm

Hi Julia

Notice what you even say.....'I think my problem' you are absolutely is your 'thinking'......and after years if not decades of IQ 'thinking' compared to EQ 'feeling'.....its a strong habit that can be challenging to break and thus change.

Commitment & Desire are the keys elements here....

How much do YOU want it?

Knowledge and Skill (need to - outside in) are completely secondary to Desire (want to - inside out)

How much do you WANT it?

Also - if you write, never mind say - 'I always feel fall short'...your already programming your sub conscious.

Start talking to yourself differently............ :-)

Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:40pm

Hi Anon

Aye - I thought it might help. He is a fab teacher.

Martin was recorded for BBC Scotland this week............
"For those who are interested I was recorded and interviewed partly during and after last night’s mindfulness session. Some people who attended last night were also briefly interviewed about mindfulness, so thanks to everyone who were happy to do this. Laura McIver of BBC Radio Scotland is doing a feature on happiness at work. It will be broadcast on the morning of 22nd August and repeated the following morning as part of the Business Scotland show. It’s a very early morning show – 6.ooam and 7.30am on Saturday and Sunday respectively but more reasonably will be available on the BBC I-player for a few days after broadcasting. The whole show is 3o minutes long and the lot about happiness and work will last six minutes."

Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:43pm

Hi Mary

Thanks....... and I can say a friend of mine uses the adult colouring books and finds it one of the most restful things she has found...........

Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:44pm

Hi Dawn

Look forward to the blog..........

Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:46pm

Hi Karen

Spot that moment - there is nowhere to go and nothing else to are safe ..........just be (not do) and notice what is in your awareness.......


Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:47pm

Thank Eliz..........Martin really.. :-)

Les Thu, Aug 6th 2015 @ 11:50pm

Hi Melanie

Thought for the long as not too much 'thinking'.... :-)


DawnC.Ritchie Fri, Aug 7th 2015 @ 8:56am

You made me smile. Thank you Les :D x

Eliz Fri, Aug 7th 2015 @ 2:08pm

but you wrote the blog didn't you?

Eliz Fri, Aug 7th 2015 @ 3:12pm

sorry Les, went back to read your blog and realised someone else wrote it. Probably better to say Thankyou Les for posting someone else's piece of writing as I found it very helpful. It didn't look like your writing as you have a different writing style which I did notice.

Rich Harrison Fri, Aug 7th 2015 @ 7:52pm

This is real blogging.
People helping each other, discussing.
I was rabbit punched last night. Of course, I'd been drinking. As I sat in the ambulance, I wept quietly, while the female paramedic looked on. I knew that it was the beginning of the rest of my life. I was cleaned up, and after being discharged, I caught sight of myself in a mirror. Dried blood snaked down my neck. Good old NHS. And then I did something that made an orderly smile. I put my shades on. At 5 a.m., I left the hospital, and walked toward the sun. My Rock 'n Roll lifestyle. ( I also happen to adore the novelists Stephen King and Clive Barker ). Peace and Love, Les and Julia. Stay as sweet as you are x

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