UNDERSTAND YOUR MIND TO GAIN A SENSE OF CONTROL
'Rule your mind or it will rule you' said the Buddha.
But how? How can we stop our habitual thinking and take control over our mind?Knowledge is power and knowing how our mind works is a great place to start.
Imagine yourself as an energetic field. In a state of equilibrium this field is neutral, balanced. When this equilibrium is hit by another energetic field coming from the outside, it causes a reaction in our mind: our thoughts arise. Immediately after that our emotions rush in as a reaction and in an attempt to re-establish our neutral. When someone says or does something, our mind forms a thought to which our body reacts by an emotional response.
But more often our balanced state is thrown off by our own thoughts to which we emotionally react, disturbing our equilibrium. Becoming aware of this, we realise we are responsible for what we think about and how we think about things - we are responsible for how we make ourselves feel as a result of our thinking. A chain reaction of someone else's or our action - our thought reaction - our emotional reaction to our thought runs perpetually throughout the day. And it doesn't end there! We react to our emotions by generating more thoughts about how we are feeling and why, engaging in endless chatter with ourselves, which further changes our emotional stateand and our energetic field for better, or worse....
Becoming able to provide space for our emotions, leaving them undisturbed to do their job, they naturally fade away. Not engaging in thinking right away, but allowing them to wash over us, is the only way to understand what they are trying to tell us. Doing so requires us practising 'non-judgemental emotional surfing' which means riding an emotional wave simply observing our feelings.
Even without others interfering, our own mind talks to us constantly about others and ourselves and unless we are aware of it, and can observe this happening, we are unable to harness its power and manage our thoughts. Imagine how some of us torture ourselves with unpleasant thoughts leading to experiencing unpleasant emotions which lead to intensification of these without having any awareness whatsoever. It is a scary place when our own thoughts run rampant with us having no control over the emotions they evoke because we are not skilled in our thought observation. Unable to identify that most of our thinking processes are stuck on an endless repeat, we become overwhelmed and highly unproductive with our anxiety levels rising, topped up with poor concentration and disturbed sleeping patterns.
Not being able to disengage from our thoughts is a recipe for a disaster.
Engaged in thought rumination we are unable to focus on what we are doing right now, which makes us less likely to notice how we are really feeling. Our inability to stay present only deepens our emotional disconnection - the connection we have with ourselves, our inner truth. By being engaged in thinking, we do not give ourselves the chance to feel the emotional currents running through our bodies, hence don't get any feedback about how negatively are our thoughs affecting us. Our endless worrying makes it impossible for us to be present to the damage of a constant emotional dis-balance and the dis-ease in our bodies. Our focus on negativity in the form of potential (largely imagined!) threats floods our bodies with stress hormones and damaging chemicals in a vicious cycle of fear - unpleasant thought - unpleasant emotion - fear - etc...
When we lose sight of all the positive in our lives, we cease to feel pleasant emotions and our life becomes a living hell. We deal with it the best way we can - with the help of alcohol, sleeping pills, or prespription drugs. But running away from our unpleasant emotions ins't a sensible solution but a very temporary one. Indeed there are extreme cases of mental disease for which drugs are initially required. However, the problem occurred in our minds. Our unawareness and the lack of understanding of our thinking-feeling processes caused it. So why getting ourselves addicted to drugs? Why would we resort to masking our symptoms? Why hurt ourselves even further? The problem is that we have emotionally disconnected from ourselves as a result of having no self-awareness or emotional management skills. Won't this worsen with the use of numbing substances?
Know that there are other, although lengthier, nevertheless healthier and sustainable methods I list below which I have all successfully tested. They are the tools for breaking the cycle of negative, habitual thinking:
1. Practicing gratitude helps you to shift your focus to all the positivity in your life (believe me there is plenty!), which re-establishes some balance by bringing on a calm, content atmosphere. Life isn't all about the chase or survival. When you manage to shift your focus and feel good again (even for short period of time to start with) you be begin to clearly separate yourselves from the stress that you would otherwise be experiencing.
2. Learning about your mind will help you learn about your Ego, how it can serve you and when it definitely won't. You will learn to observe your thoughts and see how they make you feel, and in time you will understand that you are not your thoughts but the one who can observe and change them. You will learn how to consciously choose to view situations and yourself in the light, which will empower you to choose your future.
3. Getting to know yourself will help you to see that who you thought you were (the wrong, weird, not enough you) you are actually not! That what your mind proposed about you just isn't true! Your curiosity and courage will grow and help you with breaking down your false belief system. This stage takes time and dedication, a commitment to self-reflection, and desire to find out the truth.
These tools supported by meditation for example, will put you back in touch with yourself - with your emotions and intuition.
To start this process we needs to wake up to something not being quite right. To wake up metaphorically (and those treated with suppressant drugs literally!) to the fact that we are not happy. There are many who are much happier, and it isn’t because they have more but because we feel more. Because they know exactly who they are and how they feel, which makes them more connected to themselves and life. They understand others and how they feel which makes them more connected to everything alive, which provides them w ith sense of belonging. Rather than focusing on surviving, imprisoned by their minds, they focus on being alive and staying connected, enjoying the vibrant life in our garden called the Earth.
Thank you for reading. If my article contributed to understanding yourself, please be generous and share it with others.
Copyright © 2016 Michaela Patel