Over the weekend I spent time with a person who sees the world from the view of blaming the government and president for all the problems and is angry at people who think and act differently then he does. In the past I asked questions about what he was saying (anger came my direction) but this time I just watched and listened. I noticed that his thoughts and his beliefs caused him a lot of suffering. I felt for him and wished he was open to at least to a dialogue.
I did make a recording to help him sleep and he reported last night that it works well and he is sleeping through the night. Even though I could not help him with his thoughts, I was at least able to help him with his sleep. He usually can’t sleep because he worries and is upset about the world.
How come we humans get so uptight over our own thoughts? How come we have to be right and don’t like to be questioned? How come we would rather worry and be angry then change our thoughts and have peace of mind? He has a really bad heart, which his doctor say can’t be fixed at his age. Does his mind have something to do with his broken heart? How could it not be a significant factor?
The mind is so powerful: it can be creative, it can imagine new possibilities, it can become more aware, it can figure our amazingly complicated problems and solutions, it can write poetry that touches the heart of others, and so many really amazing things. It can also be powerful: by holding on to beliefs that put a negative spin on life, by having thoughts that are destructive to well-being, by rationalizing doing things it knows inside are wrong, by arguing against its best interests, and by filling a person with anger and fear.
Do you know what your mind is up to? Is it an asset for creating the life you want or is it a dark shadow that takes much of the fun out of living? Or maybe it is somewhere in between and you try to ignore it most of the time?
Your mind shapes, colors, determines, and creates your experience of life. If you aren’t taking control of it in some way then most likely you have some serious bumps in the road. An unbridled mind is bound to run amuck and generate a lot of fear about what it feels it can’t control.
Mindfulness is a wonderful practice for bringing the mind under control. There are many helpful books out there (Thich Nhat Hahn and Jon Kabat-Zinn to name two excellent authors who write about mindfulness) that will show you lots of methods for mindfulness. I prefer the simplest of methods and I have written about this method previously.
This method is to bring your attention to your breath. You simply watch/sense/experience the inhale and exhale of the breath. Then you notice what comes up to distract you, which is most likely thoughts and feelings, and then you again bring your attention to the cycle of your breath. This method when explored begins to slow down the mind and helps you notice what is going on with your thoughts. You continue watching, noticing distractions, becoming more aware, and relaxing naturally. When you are aware of your thoughts (and the emotions they stir up), you can choose to change them. This awareness can even help you see that thoughts are not real, only words we give meaning to. From this point of consciousness you can change your thoughts to reflect a more positive, compassionate and peaceful way of seeing yourself and the world.
It really is that simple. If you want to suffer you can by letting you thoughts run wild. If you want to be happy and at peace you can shape your thoughts to match the experience you wish to have.