How can you get outside of your own head and live in the present moment? That’s not a rhetorical question. How do you get outside of your own head?

Zen waterfall

I give my answer (along with some state control exercises) in the latest Danger & Play Podcast. WARNING: This is some esoteric stuff. If you approach this with a closed or negative mind, it will sound like nonsense.

If you actually apply the exercises to your own life, you will be able to get out of your own head.

Click play or find it on SoundCloud or iTunes. And while you’re at iTunes, be sure to give me a rating or review. We are blowing up in the ratings, with 67 ratings and 42 reviews. Every review brings us all closer to creating a real community of like-minded men.

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Show notes:

  • Go somewhere big to remind yourself of your own smallness.
  • Big places include the ocean, mountains, or a Zen Garden.
  • You can also listen to house music, self-hypnosis DVDs, or buy a Zen waterfall.
  • Perceive rather than judge.
  • Use all of your available senses  – see the ocean, smell the ocean, taste the salt that is floating in the air, feel the sand on your skin, hear the waves crash.
  • Once you have released oxytocin and serotonin into your brain, pause.
  • Hold that state. Reflect on how your body feels.
  • Then transfer that state of being in the present moment to everyday experiences.

Danger & Play
Podcast #048 Transcript:
How to Get Out of Your Head

And we are back, welcome. This is Mike from and today we’re going to talk about how to get out of your head, how to be in the present moment, how to be more engaged with the world and to not stand around and get lost on your own thoughts.

This podcast comes from a reader question and the reader question goes:
“I have a question. How would I get out of my own head? Sometimes I find it difficult to stop thinking about stuff and just be present in the moment. Even when I know I’m foggy and even when I know I’m not in the moment it feels like my mind just spirals out of control when I think about not being in the moment.”

It’s a great question and it takes a lot of work to learn how to be in the present moment. And the best way to learn how to be in the present moment is to practice being around big things. Then you take the state control podcast and you learn how to change your state when you are around small things.

Be around big things.

Have you ever been to a Zen garden? Have you ever wondered why is it that flowing water calms the mind?

zen garden temple

Why is it that when you’re at the ocean and you’re on the sand and you hear the waves crashing in and it’s very mellowing? Why is it that thunderstorms and big bold storms can be soothing and actually help you sleep sometimes? Why is it that there’s a metaphor that philosopher’s use that talks about going to the mountains or going into the wilderness?

My answer is that you need to be around big things to realize how small you are.

The problem that we all have is that we only live in our own minds and we only know and understand our own consciousness.

There’s an experiment in the philosophy of consciousness which goes “How do you know that anyone else has consciousness?” I know I have consciousness because I can perceive my consciousness or I can kind of see my consciousness but that becomes sort of recursive doesn’t it? How do you see your own consciousness? What is consciousness? How do I know that you have a conscious mind? I can watch you and observe you and see you doing things that seem consistent mind, but how do I know you’re not just zombies? Or how do I know you’re not characters in a video game and that I’m the only one who has consciousness and that everyone else is just an automaton?

A philosopher of language who talked about conscious, Wittgenstein, he called it the beetle in the box metaphor. Your consciousness is like a beetle and you see this beetle in a box. You know this beetle exists, but you can’t see the beetle in anyone else’s box. You can only see your own beetle. So because of that it’s hard to get out of your own head because that is your existence. That is all that you base your existence on.

But when you go out in the ocean or you go into the mountains and you hear the thunderstorm and you just lay down there you can get out of your head because you’re completely humbled.

That’s why surfing (although I don’t surf), surfing is so Zen for people. You’re completely reminded of how small and insignificant you are and that there’s a huge world outside of yourself. And then you just sort of start flowing.

So an exercise that I do is, I live by the beach so I walk to the ocean when I feel like I’ve been in my head a little bit too much and I’m starting to go a little bit too crazy. Maybe I bring a green juice, maybe I don’t. And I just lay down, I like the sunset especially. And I just lay on the beach next to the ocean far enough away that the waves aren’t going to crash on me and I do it at a time where I’m not going to get a horrific sunburn. And I just lay back, stretch my arms out, and spread my feet apart (almost like you’d do a snow angel.

If you kids have never grown up in the Midwest or in a cold climate, maybe you’ve never seen snow but, Google “snow angel,” and kind of how you get your body. You just completely spread out. And instead of thinking, “How do I get out of my head?” You just listen to the water. Just listen to it. That’s all you’re doing, is you’re starting to perceive it and you’re starting to become conscious aware of the waves crashing in. Maybe you open your eyes and see the seagulls flying. And then you kind of see the sky and you see the colors in the sky start to change because we’re approaching sunset and you see the blues and the purples and the yellows.

And you just focus on that and listen to that and then eventually you’re going to get out of your head.

Because why?

I don’t know why.

I remember the first time I saw the mountains; it made me believe in god because I said “Wow these mountains are beautiful,” and think I thought “Well everybody would think the mountains are beautiful right?” There’s something about us. There’s something about our DNA that makes us view mountains as beautiful and spectacular. And that makes us view water and other things as spectacular. And that makes us view the universe and that looking out into the universe and the stars. There’s something inside of us in our DNA and I don’t understand it. I don’t fully comprehend it. I’m not here to tell you what god exits or what kind of god exists. But there is something universal in all of us that make us see things as majestic, bold, and sublime. And that that gets us out of our head.

Again, this is a mystery. Maybe you guys understand it and why we are that way. So that’s how you start getting out of your own head. And then what you do is (this goes back to the state control) once you get out of your head, you start to “pin” that feeling into your body.

So let’s say I’m on the water and the waves are coming in and I’m smelling the salt and I hear the seagulls. I see the seagulls. All I’m doing is perceiving. I’m not judging. Perceiving not judging. I’m not saying “what if this seagull takes a shit and the shit lands on head. Or, I wonder if this water’s polluted? Should I really be lying on this sand? Is the sand clean? What if a sand crab bites me? “

You are just perceiving everything. And when you get with something so big and so much bigger than you, you’re able to just take it all in. And then once you sort of reach that state where you feel like you’re not inside of your head…This is going to seem contradictory like so many things that I talk about but you have to go do it…if you just try to apply your Western logical mind to you’re just going to say, “Well this doesn’t make sense because he’s about to tell me to get inside my own head.” But when you do it, you realize that’s not what you’re doing.

So you’re perceiving, taking it all in. Perceiving not judging.

And then all of a sudden your body and your physiology is going to change and you’re going to feel, maybe some sort of elation. You might feel some sort of connectedness. You might feel very spiritual. You might feel an overwhelming sense of love or an overwhelming sense of compassion or an overwhelming sense of surrender. I can’t tell you what you’re going to feel, but I know what I personally feel.

I tend to personally feel more connected to other people and more connected to my work and the art that I do at Danger & Play. And one reason why I’ve been able to open up more to you guys is because I’ve learned how to perceive and not judge. Because when you perceive and not judge that includes not judging yourself. That means I can open up more. I feel more connected to people. I almost feel like I have to tell this story.

Some of the ideas that I have for posts are things that maybe I would have been afraid to talk about or pictures of my skin and that struggle I had and how horrific that was. You know, people could take those pictures and make fun of me on the internet, mock me, and there’s a lot of mischief people could make with that. Posting your pictures online you lose control of the message and people can do whatever they want to do and there are a lot of bad and mean-spirited people out there. So a lot of things we don’t do is because were afraid, “What if people judge us?”

That’s because we’re judging ourselves, so when you get into this big vast expansive situation with mountains, water, or you could even get a self-hypnosis DVD or white noise. You could even get a water fountain for your own house. Actually the coffee shop I’m about to head to, has a no cell-phone policy and it’s practically a miniature Zen garden.

There’s a waterfall and that water just becomes very hypnotic and very trance-like.

zen water


And another thing I do to get out of my head is I listen to certain house music, especially certain types of trance music. And then when I do that, really powerful trance music, like I’ve mentioned Above and Beyond and I’ve listed a few of my songs…really powerful music will take you over if you surrender to the process. Let it take you on the ride that your brain is going to go on. Just take the ride. Or as Hunter S. Thompson said about drugs, “Buy the ticket take the ride.”

I’m not advocating drug use or anything like that but that’s what you’re doing: buy the ticket take the ride. Go to the ocean and just do it. Don’t think about it. Don’t nitpick my arguments and say, “Well Mike said to get out of your head and go to the ocean and then he tells you to perceive the ocean and not judge it, but then right as you start to feel it and perceive it he tells you to start thinking about it and channeling this. Well that’s completely illogical. I’ve just completely refuted his argument.”

No guys, you think that I’m not a logical person and don’t understand that? But another way to get out of your head too is that experience isn’t always consistent with what we consider to be Western logic.

Because again right, I just shredded my own argument. You guys are smart; you can just shred my arguments. But if you just go out and do what I’m suggesting you’re going to say, “Whoa, OK. That does make sense. What he told me to do seemed contradictory but it’s not.” Then you start to appreciate the value of paradoxes.

And that’s another way you start to get out of your own head, is if you read Zen riddles or Zen paradoxes. If you try to apply a logical mind to it you just get stuck on your own head and you just don’t appreciate it. But then when you learn to appreciate paradoxes for what they are suddenly you’re able to get out of your own head. So again get a self-hypnosis DVD, some kind of white noise or water noise, whale songs. I’m sure there’s a bunch of different products on the market, if you guys know of any great products let me know.

If you live by the water, go to the water. If you live in the mountains go to the mountains. Just go somewhere and listen to house music. Go somewhere where there’s something just so big and so overwhelming that you have to take in the sensory experiences and then you stop judging.

OK, now you’ve stopped judging. And you start to feel that elation. It’s almost drug-like. A guy that I’m friends with 30 Days to X sort of talked about how he’s able to create an oxytocin overload in his body and I said “Yeah I’m able to do that too, we’ll do a podcast.” Man it’s hard to explain. But you start to feel oxytocin, serotonin…I don’t know what neurotransmitters. Again, I don’t even fully understand a lot of this stuff.

And when you have that feeling inside of you, that feeling that you’re connected and that you’re perceiving not judging then get back inside your body. “What do I feel like? Where do I feel these feelings? Do I feel it in my arms, my hands, or my brain?” It doesn’t matter where you feel it. You might feel it in your erogenous zones, there’s no wrong answer because you’re still in perception mode. And you start to pin this now. Pin this feeling into you.

“OK, this is how I feel when I’m not in my head.” And then you do that repetitiously. Do it again on the beach. Do it again. Do it every day. Do it as many times as you can throughout the day. Do it as many times as you can throughout the week. The important thing is that you just start doing it. And then suddenly, once you’ve been able to pin these feelings to a certain experience, then you’re able to reverse engineer it.

So right now, I’m making myself not by inside my own head. How am I doing it?

Either consciously or unconsciously to change my physiology and I’m changing my physiology to feel the same way I feel when I’m at the ocean.

So even though I’m not at the ocean, I’m able to feel that way as if I’m there. Granted, it won’t be quite as powerful as when you are there, but it’s still a very powerful feeling. And then suddenly you’re not in your own head. You’re not thinking, not judging, and you’re brain isn’t spiraling out of control. You just become in the moment and you become very Zen.

And this is all active meditation. I’m not sitting in a corner in the lotus position OMing to a gong. I’m actively meditating and actively engaged in my life, that’s how I do it. Does that make sense?

This might sound esoteric, if it doesn’t make any sense, just go do it. If you go do it, it will make complete and total sense.

If you just read the words on the screen and you think “Ehh makes sense (or not),” it’s not going to make sense.

You have to actually do it and when you do it that’s how you get out of your own head.

Thanks for tuning in.

This is Mike from I’ll talk to you soon.