A few years back I loaned a book to a friend thinking she might connect with it because of a conversation we had. The book was Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and after reading it she thanked me for saving her life.
I understood her sentiment. I hadn’t literally saved her life, but the contents of the book had had such a profound effect on her that she was a changed person; she now had the understanding that we are not our minds. It’s a most magical moment when the concept is grasped that you don’t have to acknowledge a thought in your mind and attach a feeling, emotion, or belief to it. You can view it instead from the sideline, choosing to watch it pass through your mind or choosing to give it your attention. When you know your thoughts are separate from yourself, you’re in a neutral position and can then choose your reaction to them. Way easier said than done.
Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” –Eckhart Tolle
My practice is weak at best and I’m often caught up in thoughts of the future or of past experiences. I only go through periods of heightened mindfulness. Usually something unsettling is happening in my life that reminds me to look inward and figure things out, hence bringing me back to a mindful place. Or maybe I have an untrue thought that I don’t want to think into a reality.
Example, I’ve found my mind worrying about my children’s safety. It’s just a split second, but my thoughts have gone so far as to envision scenarios, like say an accident on their bicycle. At those times I purposely think, ‘Look at that thought. It’s not my reality. My children are safe and healthy.’ and I picture the thought leaving my head (the thought is something I can see, separate from me, like say a book). And then I don’t put my worry on them. I try not to give them 27 bits of advice which would only clutter their brains as they cycle off to the park like ‘avoid soft sand, don’t cycle too close to the wall/into the middle of the road, don’t look back over your shoulders, go slowly down the hills, it’s okay if you lag behind, make sure you’re all together, and so forth’. Besides, I already told them all that when they were learning to cycle. And they have common sense.
It takes practice, practice, practice to maintain a separateness from one’s thoughts though. What helps? Meditation. Again, there’s room for much improvement regarding the time I allow for mindful meditation, but I’m working on it.
“Science confirms the experience of millions of practitioners: meditation will keep you healthy, help prevent multiple diseases, make you happier, and improve your performance in basically any task, physical or mental.” –Giovanni Dienstmann
It’s easy to imprison ourselves in our thoughts, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to the emotions they create in you. They have the power to heal or to wreak havoc on our health. Feelings like fear, anger, irritation, judgement, insecurity, and blame can imprison us and create sickness and disease, but the good news is that we can free ourselves. When I have physical issues, I turn inward– from shoulder pain to cold sores, spells of headaches, nausea, and pimples, I’ve found causes rooted in my thinking and approached them from a psychological point of view. I ask myself, what stinkin’ thinkin’ is causing these issues? A hearty dose of self-reflection can sure be a prescription for a healthy recovery. I wonder what these symptoms might have progressed to if I hadn’t addressed them and corrected my mental attitude.
My two trusted resources for accurate and deep understanding as to the cause and effect relationship between physical ailments and mental patterns are Deb Shapiro’s Your Body Speaks Your Mind: Understanding how your emotions and thoughts affect you physically and Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. Both are brilliant books, one that was recommended to me and one that I came across by chance.
The only thing we are ever dealing with is a thought, and a thought can be changed. Most of the time when we are in pain, it’s because we are responding to our thoughts about something.” –Louise Hay
You’ve probably heard me whinge lately about my schedule. Not enough time to do all the creative and personal things I want to do and not able to do them when I want to. In a nutshell, I was feeling terribly sorry for myself, like a petulant child discontented over not getting an unrealistic desire. Not out loud, but worse, keeping the feelings inside and ignoring them while they seeped out in passive aggressive ways.
Of course, I started becoming physically unwell. Even after this understanding– all that I wrote about the mind and what I have come to understand and believe– I was still throwing myself a pity party instead of focusing on the goodness of all I have in my life regards to people and opportunities and health.
The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.” –Eckhart Tolle
During this time I sent a book to a friend in America, totally unrelated to this topic, just one I thought she would like. In turn, she sent me one back, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative living beyond fear. It was just the kick in the pants I needed to get out of the funk I was in.
This, “I do not know of any creative soul who does not dream of calm, cool, grass-growing days in which to work without interruption. Somehow, though, nobody ever seems to achieve it….Reality’s demands are constantly pounding on the door and disturbing them.”, is one of many wonderful, though often quirky, points of view by Gilbert that was helpful to me.
For anyone involved in personal or professional creative pursuits and anyone who, like me, is feeling a bit fragile about it all, this book is very inspiring in an ‘as serious as it is, don’t take it all so seriously’ kind of way. I don’t agree with everything she thinks, but she did change my attitude about a couple things, most importantly my outlook on working a job while pursuing creative aspirations.
Don’t abandon your creativity the moment things stop being easy or rewarding because that’s the moment when interesting begins.” –Elizabeth Gilbert
A friend once said to me ‘If you’re not careful you might learn something new every day’ and over the years I’ve grown to love this humorous truth and to repeat it many times. I adore when I reread a book or just reference a section of it and something new and salient is gleaned.
The books I’ve mentioned here have been invaluable to me. I admire the authors, respect their candour when sharing their personal experiences, and how when doing so, they edify others. I appreciate how I’ve benefited from their hard work.
Life does not come with instructions on how to live, but it does come with trees, sunsets, smiles and laughter, so enjoy your day. –Debbie Shapiro
On that note, I shall love you and leave you with hugs and love, peace and light,