by Judith Bobbe, LCSW
” An old grandfather is speaking to his grandson about what causes the violence and cruelty in the world. “In each human heart,” he tells the boy, “there are two wolves battling one another—one is fearful and angry, and the other is understanding and kind.” The young boy then asks, “Which one will win?” His grandfather smiles and says, “Whichever one we choose to feed” Tara Brach
We each have fires, energies within which we nurture and feed. The fires of love build connections and the fires of anger create disconnection.
Sometimes we feed parts of ourselves, with attention and energy, without realizing it, simply out of habit, and often these parts are not beneficial.
There is a choice we can each make every day – do we feed the fires of anger, fear and resentment, or the fire of love?
Feeding the fire of self-knowledge, and compassion offers us clear perception, and is a very good thing.
The fires of anxiety and the silent smoldering embers of depression, on the other hand, drain the life force and cause deep unhappiness.
Until we take the time to notice and to think about it, we can by habit, feed emotional tendencies which cause unhappiness. Many people unwittingly feed these destructive fires and do not know that instead they can learn how to cultivate the inner fire of light and self- love.
The true self is self- luminous and we can develop our ability to access it and make it stronger.
Meditation practices, breathing exercises and yoga postures cultivate the fire of vitality, love and strength. So do being in Nature, being creative, and loving others.
When we build our strengths , it is not only a physical process, but also mental and emotional, clearing away the dross of habits steeped in fear, negativity and avoidance.
When we do breathing exercises we strengthen and clean the lungs. More essentially, we enliven and clarify the nervous system, and the complex web of mental and emotional patterning, which is the basis of our perceptions, expectations, and our actions. These patterns comprise the basis of our approach to life.
When we stoke the fire of self- illumination, we strengthen the body, the mind and the heart. Creative self – awareness grows and becomes a framework for developing a happy life, day by day. Attachments to anxiety, depression, stagnation and fear, all become less attractive, and change happens more easily.
The only aspect of ourselves that is constant as long as we live is our own inner light.
When we use practices which strategically and systematically allow the inner light to burn stronger, we are leading a life of freedom: the freedom to choose to let go of old patterns and to create new ones instead.
Many people seek change within themselves.
For change to be real it cannot only happen in the mind. The mind is totally influenced by its own habits, and is a sell-reinforcing loop. The mind on its own can be a trap.
Familiar thoughts feed on each other and we can obsess and get lost in it all.
Actually the most efficient way to change mood, and thoughts, is though the breath. We cannot talk ourselves out of a bad mood unless there is also a sustained awareness of how the body supports and influences the mood. The breath works directly on the nervous system, which in turn, influences thought in a different way.
As human beings we are usually identified with our moods and our thoughts, so much so, that it is often hard to comprehend a most basic truth: that how we see the world is totally dependent on our inner life.
When we are sad the world looks grim. This is only a simple example. More basically, the deeply ingrained unconscious expectations we bring to each day are often so invisible that we cannot see how much they influence our choices and ability to access our own unique capacities.
The most innate capacity that we are all born with is the ability to love. The need for connection actually keeps us alive.
The basic human urge is to love and be loved. When life experiences cause contraction and fear, the ability to love becomes diminished, and as a result self- confidence becomes weaker, and openness to our most luminous self becomes obscured. We can get stuck in patterns of neglecting our selves as confidence weakens.
Alternatively, we can open and heal these contracted states through emotional self- inquiry, supported by working through the body and the breath. Wise choice of practices cultivates self- love, health and a deep sustaining connection to our inner light. What we do with our minds and bodies every day has a huge influence on our ability to grow and to heal old wounds, and an opening for strength to develop.
” A sense of connection changes one of the most basic elements of the brain, which is how you perceive threat. It changes the world into a safer world.”
For more information please see my website: http://www.personal-discovery-chicago.com/meditationmindfulness.html