In every moment we have thoughts that propel the direction of our life. Try it! When a thought comes into our thinking mind, notice how that thought changes our state. We may feel irritation, joy, or frustration. What if we say “I am irritated by this thought and I want to be.” The first step of any process is ownership. First, we must take responsibility for our thoughts. We created them after all. If our thoughts create irritation, then isn’t the logical conclusion to choose a different thought?
Disclaimer. Thoughts in and of themselves are neutral. It’s the judgments, about my thoughts that cause havoc. Random thoughts are counter productive. Then judgments or attachments to those random thoughts are destructive.
So why do we refuse to take ownership? Is it possible we do this because our ego has assigned some blame outside of ourselves? Our ego, or thinking mind, is sure that if ‘x’ was different then we would not be irritated. What are we telling ourselves by this way of thinking? Aren’t we really saying something outside ourselves must change in order for us to be joyful?
Does this sound like the reasoning of a sane mind? The belief that other people, and situations, will somehow change, and once they do, we will no longer be irritated. Does that sound like a recipe for joyfulness in this moment?
Our thinking minds are undisciplined. So how does one go about disciplining their minds?
1. We take ownership of our thoughts. These are my thoughts. I created them. I can choose to create new thoughts.
2. We change our focus. When we are irritated, we can consciously, mindfully, and purposefully look for things that bring us joy. It may be as simple as, being joyful to feel the sensation of being full. To think outside of ourselves today and imagine how many children are going hungry. To think outside ourselves and imagine how many people struggle for their basic needs, like clean water to be met. We can look at a tree, our children, our parents, or any number of things in our life and choose to see abundance. This is the correct use of our thinking mind. It is a tool. It can work for us, or against us, and the choice is ours.
“When it rains look for rainbows. When it’s dark look for stars”. – unknown
3. We can choose to be non-reactive. When we divorce ourselves from our thinking mind. We can purposefully witness what is going on in there, rather than unconsciously going through the day with mental chatter running in the background. It is by tuning in, that we will recognize how our thinking mind has been mis-creating.
Boredom, anger, sadness, or fear are not ‘yours,’ not personal. They are conditions of the human mind. They come and go. Nothing that comes and goes is you.” – Eckhart Tolle.
4. Pay attention. For five minutes just tune into all the random thoughts that float through our minds. After each thought replace it with “isn’t that interesting?”. Then consciously say “I choose to be joyful. Since I choose to be joyful what thought can I linger on that will bring me joy?”. For me it’s often my children. It’s usually something small and simple like tuning into to things I take for granted.
We have the power to do this all day long. If we are tired, it’s because we have allowed our thoughts to wear us down. Thoughts like “will this happen, how can I make this happen, where is this going, what did she mean, why did he do that, what were they thinking?” We think, if we think long enough, an answer will come. Is it not true for most of us, most of the time, our creative minds find solutions just when we stopped thinking? What is that space outside of our thinking mind? The space of presence. The space of being.
I have learned I am more energetic, more joyful, more creative and more productive as a result of disciplining my thinking mind. I think less, and accomplish more, because my thinking mind is not draining my life force with negativity. Stepping outside of the judgments of my thoughts, instead choosing to be in a vulnerable, alive and awakened state allows me to see past the reactive thinking mind of others. This allows me to watch others vent and recognize their attack as simply a cry for help; because they feel powerless and afraid. It allows me to have compassion; without getting into the place of ego, where I feel the need to ‘fix’. People are not broken. We do not need to ‘fix’ others and we do not need to be ‘fixed’. We are asleep. We can spark remembering in each other when we live in this space of joy. It reminds us all, we have a choice to WAKE UP.
Wake up! Wake up! Be alive. Live. It takes work. However, how much energy does it take to hold onto all those thoughts? What price have you paid for being sad, bitter, resentful or disappointed? And when our minds are darkened, who suffers? Does the person we believe harmed us suffer? Do they suffer over our anger? Do we think we can ‘show them’ and ‘make them feel our pain’? And what really do we get from this? It may feel good for a bit, but then we need something else to feel good about. Our entire mood is contingent upon things outside ourselves and so who has all our power?
This is not to say we become doormats. Quite the opposite. We learn to take swift action because we are longer bogged down in our thinking mind plotting and scheming. We learn to be direct and clear, but there is no reactivity behind our words and therefore our calm frankness can be heard. We no longer become attached to ‘our plan’. We give our assessment, and if instructed to change course we are flexible enough to just move it forward.
“To know yourself as the Being underneath the thinker, the stillness underneath the mental noise, the love and joy underneath the pain, is freedom, salvation, enlightenment.” – Eckhart Tolle.