Tame Your Mind
Jul 29, 2015 05:12PM
● By Joan Kaplan
Everyone would like to stop searching for the keys to living a fulfilling life. We’ve already explored various methods and collected a storehouse of knowledge. But, have we really experienced an improvement in our lives? We already know the importance of healthy diet, exercise and a positive outlook. So many endeavors initially seem interesting and inspiring, but after we come down from the “high” of an inspirational weekend, what comes next? Are we merely entertaining ourselves?
It would be great news to find that the most important vehicle, no matter what other avenues of interest we pursue, is right under our noses and has been there all along. It’s a vehicle that is good in the beginning, good in the middle and good at the end. It will never become outdated, irrelevant, lose its popularity, and we can never grow out of its benefit. Once we understand this key, it can become our best friend for the rest of this lifetime. If we forget it, we can always return to it.
This key is called taming the mind. It means getting to know the workings of our own minds intimately and seeing how the principle, “through our thoughts we create our world” actually operates. It is what teachers, sages and wise ones have been saying for centuries in different ways. It is the subject of popular books with a variation on the same theme every decade. It is much deeper and more profound than it seems on the surface. You can practice in whatever religion or spiritual tradition you prefer. But, you must have this essential element to create health and peace in your life. This is what the true warrior’s path is about. The real battlefield is the inner world.
No beliefs, no religion, no rules. Just you and your mind. Sound easy? Alas, perhaps it is easier to remain asleep than to wake up, to entertain our minds with conjecture rather than to meet our own minds straight on. Perhaps a little like asking a fish to notice the water it has always lived in.
Wavering between hopeful fantasies and fearful doubts is a mark of an untamed mind. We can learn steps to bring that wildness under your control and begin to learn how to be the master of our own house. This is what is meant by the statement, “the mind is a good servant, but not a good master.” Through mindfulness we can tame our minds and train them in ways that will bring more satisfaction.
These are good places to start:
Bring your attention toward conscious breathing. Sit with the spine straight. Take a comfortably deep breath, counting slowly (1-2-3...) on the inhale and slowly (1-2-3...) on the exhale. Feel your body, especially the air expanding your diaphragm. Do this for five breaths for a minimum of 3 times a day to begin. Slowly increase number of times per day. As you become more comfortable with conscious breathing and counting breaths, begin to just follow the breathing without the counting and begin to notice feelings and sensations in your body.
Nurture positive thoughts. When you notice negativity in your thinking, breathe deeply and redirect that negativity toward a more positive train of thought.
Demonstrate self-love and forgiveness. Stop judging both yourself and others.
Be authentic. There is no one else you have to “be,” so simply relax and embrace your own personality and attributes.
We create the quality of our lives through the activity of our minds. Or, to quote one of my wonderful teachers, “everything is dependent upon the condition of the mind”. Let’s learn to work with our obstacles in a positive way to create happiness, both inside and out.
Joan Kaplan, MA, holds a Master’s degree in clinical psychology and meets both in person and by phone for private consultations in Conscious Life Guidance and Coaching. For information, call 941-921-5641, email [email protected] or visit BodhiCoach.com.