by Judith Bobbe, LCSW
“Whatever we think about and ponder frequently becomes the inclination of the mind” Buddha
Thoughts have great power. Thoughts and habits of thought create a mindset, which influence how we perceive reality.
When we are involved with negative thinking we feel powerless, drained, angry and alone. If we stop and look, we notice that we feel constricted in our bodies by negative emotions as well, which reinforces the negativity of the mind.
In reverse when we think optimistically and with openness to other points of view, we feel expansive free and strong. We grow in our capacity to be connected with life. We can breathe more freely.
The ironic problem of being human is that we identify with our thoughts. We identify with a very small part of who we are. We think there is nothing larger in us than the contents of our own logic.
In this we become trapped because the logic of our minds is so patterned by the past, so created by previous experiences, that we cannot see outside of ourselves. We have a continual need to protect ourselves by protecting our own point of view. Because it is so familiar, we believe it to be true.
We cannot get outside of the mind, using the mind alone.
Practices such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga and breath awareness, give us glimmers of experience of larger truths. We get a felt sense of a larger world within ourselves. We practice shifting our attention to an experience of something larger and more mysterious, over and over again.
We want to live in these larger truths because we know somehow, that there is a limitless presence that we are a part of. We are happiest when we feel connected. We feel calmer and can let go of worries and negative thinking.
Connecting with a larger sense of presence can be an elusive pursuit. We repeatedly revert to the traps in our own minds. The good thing is that if we compassionately look at the dynamics of what happens inside our own minds, we can soften the patterns which create self imprisonment.
Patterns are parts of ourselves which need attention and care.
The process of growth in self- awareness is therefore a spiritual path, a pursuit of connection, both with larger parts of ourselves, and with relationships and the world in all its aspects.
A spiritual path is a commitment to cultivating openness to change, even when it is uncomfortable, and even when there is no guarantee of the results of our efforts. We become more naturally aligned with those glimmers of light, which with practice, grow into a flame. The flame warms and encourages us to be persistent.
The light within is always there and when we connect with it frequently, it drives us to become happier and more compassionate with ourselves and with all of life. We can be courageous and live differently, easing away from doubt, and inhabiting our strengths as the new normal.
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