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Posts Tagged “thinking”

Do you ever get upset?

Upset smiley face“I never see you upset. Do you ever get upset?” At least once or twice a week, someone asks me that question, as if they are expecting that someone who truly understood how the mind works must never be anything but calm and happy.

So sorry, that’s not how it works. There is no way to anticipate what might come into our minds, and sometimes, the thoughts we bring to our minds carry with them upset, angry, frustrated, negative feelings. Of course, I get upset, just like every other human being on the planet.

The difference between me getting upset before I learned how thinking works, and me getting upset now is that now I don’t care if I’m upset. It doesn’t feel important to me. It feels like a passing experience, sort of like a thundershower. And I know not to take it seriously because I know what it is — just a torrent of negative thoughts passing through.

The reason people don’t see me upset now is that I keep it to myself and don’t pay much attention to it, whereas in the past, feeling upset used to be my go-go-go!-signal to take action and, by golly, track down that person and give them a piece of my mind, or write that nasty letter and let someone know they couldn’t take advantage of me, or speak harshly to people I perceived as letting me down, or call a friend to seek commiseration.

Understanding how our minds work, and the nature of thought and experience, does not make us immune to upset. It just makes us disinclined to pay much attention to it. So what? It’s just my own thoughts creating the temporary experience of being upset. Let those thoughts go and different thoughts will come to mind. Then I’ll feel different. I know better, now, than to take seriously or act on upsetting thinking because doing anything in a low state of mind does not work out well at all. (Have you ever actually solved a problem by yelling at someone, or sending a nasty letter?) And I don’t need to burden my friends with my negative thoughts because it’s up to me to see them for what they are and let them pass. Talking about them just holds them in place. And among my friends, there’s no one who would actually discuss them anyway. I know the look — the look that says, “You must be kidding me? That makes sense to you?” In the world I live in, we’d both be laughing in a matter of seconds because it’s absolutely silly to get all worked up about the smoke and mirrors of up-and-down thinking.

So, sure, I have the feeling of upset, sometimes several times a day. But I see it as a signal to slow down, quiet my mind, and wait for a minute. When I get that tight, tense feeling that signals a droopy mood, I don’t try to figure out what’s up. I know what’s up. I am thinking myself into a lower mood. No need to feed that cycle. I turn away from it, rather than indulging it. And then, at the speed of thought, it goes away as other things come to mind, and I start feeling more like myself again.

Often, I ask my clients, “How cheaply are you willing to sell your peace of mind?” Usually, it has never occurred to them that they have to sell it or give it away to lose it, even for a second. Peace of mind is the natural default setting we fall back to as soon as we let go of what pulls us away from it. The only thing that can pull us away from it is our very own negative thinking that we’re making up, all by ourselves, seeing as real, and taking seriously.

The gift of understanding the Three Principles that explain how we create our own experience is that we’re always in the driver’s seat. We get to decide whether to stay upset, or leave it alone. We get to decide whether to take the risk the quick relief of yelling or hurting ourselves or someone else, or get the reward of the quick relief of quietly seeing our thoughts/moods for what they are: Nothing. Images on the screen of our minds. If they’re worthwhile, helpful and uplifting, we can hold onto them and build on them, enjoy working with them. If they’re petty and discouraging and gloom-inducing, we can turn our backs on them.

Of all the gifts I have received in life, the most precious to me is the deep realization is that I am in charge of me. Life is not in charge of me. Nothing can bring me down but me. If I don’t think my way into stress and sadness, I can handle anything life brings me with wisdom, insight and good will. I can get upset and get over it, and do no harm.

What could be better than that?

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What is a calm state of mind?

Let’s start here: Calm is not merely the absence of stress and upset. People settle for that, but to settle is selling the infinite human potential short. “Well, I’m not upset and I’m not feeling totally stressed out, so I guess this is as good as it gets.”

Wrong! So very wrong! That’s only the least bad it gets.

Calm is not empty; it is full. Calm does not reflect the absence of trouble, dissatisfaction and ill will ; it reflects the presence of peace, gratitude and contentment. Calm is not a personal feeling of checking in with oneself and being OK; calm is an impersonal feeling of seeing beyond oneself and being deeply connected with all of life. Calm is not still and inactive; calm is engaged and involved in every moment. Calm is not neutral to what’s happening in life; calm is in love with life and everything in it. Calm is not quietly  indifferent; calm is unconditionally loving. Calm is not cool; calm is warm.

If we were the ocean, calm would be the deep, dynamic currents that perpetually steer the waters around the globe. If we were the colors, calm would be a gorgeous rainbow, lifting our hearts and spirits with its graceful arch. If we were the sky, calm would be the north star, faithfully guiding us no matter where we were temporarily. If we were a rolling meadow, calm would be the wildflowers, brightening and enlivening the landscape.

The most wonderful thing about a calm state of mind, though, is that we don’t have to work at it to have it. It is what we have, it is the ordinary spiritual state of human beings, but for all the thinking we do around it. Calm is simply the beautiful feeling that emerges from a mind at rest. It takes no effort whatsoever.

Calm seems ordinary to people who are at peace with the deeper logic of created experience. We use the energy of life to create forms within our own minds and become conscious of what we’ve created. When we leave that process alone to work naturally, we create calm because, basically, we are creating a flow of thoughts connected to the flow of life. We move away from calm when we engage ourselves in thinking about our own thinking and trying to “fix” things or figure ourselves out.

Sydney Banks said, “Seek without seeking, for what you hope to attain is already within you.” (The Missing Link, p. 139) That essentially simple idea offers profound hope for peace among all mankind, if only it didn’t seem “too simple” to people who are striving mightily to make themselves into what they think they should be instead of  being what they already are.

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Getting over “it”

Often people talk about distressing events in catastrophic terms. “I don’t know how anyone will ever get over that!” Or, “It ruined my life; I’ll never get over it.” Or, “It was so awful, I’m not surprised he/she can’t get over it.” We talk as though there are “its” in life that track us and yap at our heels like indefatigable terriers after a fox.

Once the moment of something is over, though, the only “it” is a memory. And what is a memory? It is a thought carried forward through time. And how does a thought get carried forward through time? We keep re-thinking it. Otherwise, it would be stored away like a winter sweater in the tropics, tucked away where we could find it, but irrelevant to the present.  So we’re not looking for it. Forgotten, but not gone. Part of our life we leave in storage. If someone asks, “Didn’t you have a heavy cable-knit sweater?”, we can remember that we did. But we don’t drag it out and put it on and spend a lot of time sweating in it.

It has always struck me as odd that we all find it perfectly reasonable and understandable that we forget where we put things, we forget people’s names, we forget the details of last year’s birthday, we forget promises we made, we forget to do routine chores, we forget to return phone calls, we forget appointments, we forget our last addresses, we forget groceries we meant to buy. Thoughts slip into storage and we fail to retrieve them all the time. Yet we find it unreasonable and beyond comprehension that something to which we attach negative significance could slip into storage and not be retrieved.

How would our brains sort that out? How would the brain select what is forgettable from what is unforgettable? Thoughts are just fleeting energy traces. They all look the same to the brain. It is our own mind, our own creative power, that assigns significance and directs the continual re-creation of certain thoughts. The brain is part of our physical world; our minds are spiritual, the energy that infuses our physical body and empowers us to direct our life, to exercise free will over how we will hold and use our thinking.

We can remember anything. But we don’t have to remember any particular thing. We are in control of which thoughts we bring to mind and which thoughts we leave alone or allow to pass. That is why the Principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought refer to spiritual truths, not formed ideas. In the formless spiritual realm, there are no choices between this and that. Things are. It isn’t like we can pick and choose when the Principles apply and when they don’t. They are life itself in motion, infinitely. We are the energy of Mind creating Thought and experiencing our creations via Consciousness. All the time. It’s our thinking that generates our personal realities, and what we don’t bring to mind is not part of our reality in any given moment.

So we can always get over anything. We can simply allow it to stay folded up among all the other items in storage, unrecalled, once we have learned what we can from it.

I thought of this when I was working with a family not long ago. One of the children was “traumatized,” and could not stop talking about all the abuse she sustained from her alcoholic parents and how she just couldn’t live happily because of it. Her sibling was not interested in discussing that. “It was 10 years ago,” she said. “I’m glad it’s over. I can’t see much point dragging it into my life now.” They were only a year apart; they had exactly the same memories of childhood. But they were using their gifts of Mind, Thought and Consciousness and their free will very differently in relation to them. One was stuck in time; the other was living in the now.

In the words of Sydney Banks, “Discard the restless, haunting ghosts of yesterday and set yourself free to live the beauty of today,” (The Missing Link, p 104.)

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