Last time, I discussed the epidemic crisis of emotional and psychological health in our country and how it gets started, perpetuates itself, is commonly treated and how it affects not only our health, but the health of our pets as well.
In this blog, I will address what we can do in order to heal ourselves from these health issues instead of depending on drugs and therapy in order to help us get by with our disease. Depression, anxiety, and all persistent harmful emotions, from a conventional medical perspective are the results of long-standing hurtful feelings. These harmful emotions and feelings are the end results of attachments to thoughts or perceptions that we have carried around for some time. The more we believe these thoughts that affect our emotions, the longer they persist, the more ingrained they become in our physical body until they become a pattern that reflects itself in the life we live in each moment.
How do we break this vicious, harmful cycle? By getting to the source of the problem: our incorrect thoughts and their attached emotions. We humans are the only living creature that has the ability to be aware of themselves. Because we have an evolved brain that has an enormous forebrain, we can actually be aware of our thoughts, emotions and actions. We might be reading a book and our thoughts are on the content, but at the same time, there is an awareness of the fact that we are reading a book. Our mind, which is an accumulations of our thoughts, is constantly evaluating each moment, attempting to control our actions and thoughts in order for us to create a life that we desire. Or, what we THINK we desire. This certainly includes thinking of ways to avoid what we fear or don’t desire.
Just watch yourself walking down the street. Your mind is narrating each moment. “Oh, no. Here comes Martha. She is so annoying. Maybe if I go to the other side of the street, she won’t see me. That outfit she is wearing is hideous. Didn’t her Mother teach her anything?’’ You know that movie I watched last night could have been better if it wasn’t so violent. What should I do after yoga this evening? Maybe I will check out a Meetup group. On and on and on. The mind never stops and it picks out the things that you are emotionally attached to. “You know, I never really liked Martha anyway. You know, she doesn’t even have a dog. Imagine that. Someone who doesn’t like dogs.”
In time, we might even begin to get annoyed at the mind chatter and want to find ways to get a break. We might turn to meditation. “Ok, take a breath. One, two, three, four. Am I doing this right? I don’t feel like anything is happening. Oh, I am having thoughts. I can’t do that. One, two, three. How long have I been doing this? Fifteen minutes? Oh crap. Only two minutes. I can’t do this for fifteen minutes. Meditation is not working. Maybe I should take up Tai Chi.”
It can be enormously hard to turn off the mind chatter, especially for those of us who were never taught at an early age how to spend time alone and quiet. Why is it so important to escape from the influence of our thoughts? Because they interfere with what is important. And, that is reality in the present moment. They make the real seem unreal and the stories they create dealing with the unreal cause our emotional suffering.
Our experiences in each moment can be aligned with only two perspectives: fear or love. We have to choose in each moment what we want to align ourselves with. When we choose fear, we suffer. When we choose love, we don’t. It is that simple, but it is extremely hard to break the patterns that have made us choose fear over the many years. All suffering, emotionally, deal with choosing fear instead of love. Choosing the unreal over the real. Choosing the mind over the heart. This is the underlying theme in all religious and spiritual teaching since the beginning of time.
The mind, created by us as an attempt to protect us, exists in a fearful state. It is the dominant activity in our moment. Is it a surprise that we choose fear instead of love? No. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can start being aware of our choices and realign ourselves with what is real, what is loving and what is a life that we were created to experience. You can do this because it is the Truth and there is a Truth that lives inside you that has longed to awaken and express itself through you. Know this, believe this and it will take you to the jumping off place where you will enter the world of Truth, one beyond the limitations of the fearful mind, one where each moment will be an awe-inspiring event.
In order to find the Truth, the real, the love, we can’t add anything because it is already here. We find what is real, what is loving by removing what is NOT real. Like wiping away the foggy mist on a window, you reveal the truth of what life is really like both inside and out. You become aware of love instead of fear.
How do you start this amazing experience? Baby steps driven by the Truth that is inside you. It starts by turning your attention away from your mind and its harmful thoughts. You take the first baby step by sitting down in a quiet place and turning your attention on anything that will keep your attention away from your thoughts. You might focus your attention on your breath, the sounds in the room, the feelings in your hands or fingers. The point is to keep your attention on something besides your thoughts by being aware of what is happening in the moment. Thoughts will arise and that’s ok. Just don’t engage with them. Don’t get frustrated that they keep happening. Just return your attention to something besides your thoughts. This is how chanting or mantras works. This is how a labyrinth works. It is all about keeping your awareness off your thoughts.
Take a walk in nature. Nature, the connection to the earth, is grounding and energetically balancing. But, like Thoreau said, “When you go for a walk in nature, leave the busy mind at home.” Do things that you love to do, you know those things that are timeless. Play music, write poetry, sing, dance, paint a picture. All of these actions connect us with our creative nature, one that does not require the critical mind and keeps us in the real present moment.
Pet caretakers have a great advantage. The love that we have for our pets is a great attention getter. When we spend time with our pet, one on one, in the present moment without the mind’s participation, bingo, we have stillness of the mind and that connects us to life itself, without the mind’s assessment. If we take the opportunity during that mindless, present moment to feel the heart to heart connection between ourselves and our pets, we transcend to a higher energy state where unification is experienced and wholeness is present.
In time, and with awareness, you will begin to see yourself thinking and you will refocus on what you are doing in the moment. Then, there will come a time where the mind will be in the background of your consciousness and you will be focused on real life in the present moment. You will be able to use thoughts when you need them. They will come without emotions attached. You will control them. They will no longer control you. This is how it is meant to be.
Your mind will tell you that this is too simple and that it won’t work. That is because the mind cannot know the Truth. The Truth is beyond the mind. This is why you have to rid yourself of the attention of the mind in order to find the Truth. Using the mind to find the Truth is like using a flashlight to find the sunlight. It cannot happen. Remember, love, truth and reality are experienced when we remove those things that keep us from knowing this: thoughts and emotions. Once you have a tasted reality, you will know that being without the mind’s influence does not mean you will become apathetic and lifeless. You will experience loving awareness and complete fulfillment in each moment and genuine appreciation of the life you have been given. You deserve it. You were put here to experience it. Now, its up to you to make the changes so that it can happen.