“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
People are unaware how much attention is given to unimportant events in their lives — awareness is pivotal in most instances.
When I am engaged in menial tasks, my thoughts often wander aimlessly.
As the pilot of my mind, it is my job to reel in my thoughts so they don’t overpower me.
The conscious mind can be considered both a wild stallion and a chimpanzee, wild and erratic at times. The mind thrives on being in a state of flux. It recalls the past and predicts the future with ease, yet it has a disdain for being in the present moment.
Consider this: “What are you going to think next?”
You will notice it is challenging to stay in the present moment without your thoughts taking somewhere else. You don’t know what the future holds, although your mind draws conclusions based on historical information.
The mind is a storehouse of data.
We rarely engage in conscious thinking, rather we draw on our storehouse of information. From age two to six, you are in a subconscious learning state. Most of your thoughts and beliefs are formed during this impressionable age.
You don’t see the world as it is, you see it as you are said the American essayist Anaïs Nin. Subjective reality is the term that describes this state of being. It is subject to the experiencer viewing the world through his or her lens. These lenses are filters in which you create your present and future experiences.
“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.” ― Marcus Aurelius
Being mindful of your thoughts means not engaging with them to gain validation. For example if you have a thought, “Karen is stupid, why does she repeat this behaviour?” your mind searches its mental record to substantiate the thought. If you have an earlier experience of this, your mind will draw on it and associate it with the present moment to confirm your thought.
To avoid this, use a neutral thought, “Isn’t that interesting.” This is observational in nature and does not require the mind to look for answers. The premise of this suggestion is to ask your mind empowering questions rather than frame it in the negative.
“You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” — Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes
Judging a thought means associating whether something is good or bad. When you judge a thought, you categorise it according to your preferences.
With a negative thought, your mind create a disagreeable association. It relates the thought to you being bad, since you are the creator of the thought. Instead, allow thoughts to flow through your mind like calm waters and don’t be attached to them.
Be a silent witness through meditation. Find quiet time and observe your thoughts for ten minutes or more. Imagine them as a river flowing through your mind. Call up an image of a serene river to form a stronger mental association.
When you create this scenery, you disassociate any meaning to the thought. In terms of the river analogy, this means water flowing in different directions or changing force. Observe what is taking place without engaging with the thought.
“Where does a thought go when it’s forgotten?” ― Sigmund Freud
It is vital to create new thoughts while cancelling undesirable ones. If you are prone to sabotaging your job or career, you might engage in the following thought: “I’ll never find a job I like. All the good ones are taken.”
When this thought appears, observe it and replace it with an empowering thought such as: “The perfect job or career is making its way into my life in an easy and effortless way,” or “I am attracting the perfect job or career in an easy and effortless way.” Look for evidence of your new thought (belief) to support it.
Cancel out the limiting thought and replace it with a new one, so your mind has a new reference. You are training the mind by providing it with a new stimuli and removing the old association.
Persist with this exercise, since it takes time to realise the benefits. I have been practising these techniques for years and occasionally stumble when a stray thought emerges.
“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” — Buddha
Having a thought does not mean the thought is real. Question the motive of your thoughts. If you entertain thoughts of lack and wish to attract prosperity, challenge any limiting thoughts around poverty.
When you engage in thoughts such as, “I’m poor and broke,” cancel the thought and examine whether there is any truth to it; you will see there rarely is. It has been repeated often that your mind has become habituated or comfortable believing it.
You will notice a pattern or theme to your thoughts. Knowing this, you are equipped to tame the thought process. This is akin to knowing how a child behaves in a tantrum.
Armed with this information you can navigate your way out of danger and not fall victim to your thoughts again.
The more you work with your thoughts, the better they serve you. The goal is to befriend your mind and become attuned to its natural rhythms.
You become mindful of your thought process and attuned to the peaceful state of your inner self.
Awareness and patience is required to master your thoughts. In time, you will find harmony and an unwavering peace that no external condition can unsettle.
Originally published at medium.com