Living in the Now – Part 2 of 3: Understanding the Mind

As we experience our individual yet profoundly interconnected journeys of transformation, we inevitably encounter obstacles, challenges, or, otherwise known as growth opportunities. Thoughts and emotions become valuable tools that can help us become clearer and more attuned to our Higher Selves. Thoughts and emotions also have the potential to assist us in destroying all that we have persevered to attain. Thought alone, when it is no longer connected with the much vaster realm of consciousness, can quickly become destructive. Through an understanding of how our minds operate, we gain the ability to see why it is so important to be aware of the chatter within. Being aware of this chatter consequently enables us to be conscious of the present moment.

Thoughts and Emotions

For many years, seekers of divine wisdom have studied the importance of protecting our personal energy – the energy that we hold with ourselves in this moment, the energy that has been allocated to us for the purpose of benefiting our Highest Good, the energy that can enable us to serve others if we so choose. One of the ways that we, as humans, expel the greatest quantities of energy is through feeding our constant streams of thought. In this way, most people sleepily go through their lives allowing their minds to control their experiences and influence their choices. In this unconscious state, our thoughts continually control who we are and keep us living in the past or somewhere out in the future. Our thoughts either keep bringing us back to memories that provoke states of anger, resentment and regret, or they coax us into a state of worry, in which we are afraid of something ‘bad’ happening in the future. Choosing to live in either of these mental states means that we are escaping this precious NOW and preventing ourselves from experiencing the joys of the moment.

Our emotions can be another incredible drain on our energy. Some people may feel that they lose more energy through their emotions than through their out-of-control thoughts. Emotion arises at the place where our thoughts and our bodies meet. Emotion is our body’s reaction to thought. We might say, emotions are a reflection of our thoughts in the body.

The moment the body reacts to a thought, an emotion is created. The image above can be interpreted as an energetic depiction of this process.

Let’s look at an example to better understand this concept. A hostile thought will create a build-up of energy in the body that we call anger – the body is getting ready to fight. The thought that we are being threatened causes the body to contract. This is the physical side of what we call the emotion of fear. Research has shown that strong emotions even cause changes in the biochemistry of the body, which represents the actual physical aspect of the emotion. Of course, we are not usually consious of all of our thought patterns. It is often through watching our emotions that we can bring them into awareness.


Hostile Thought manifesting into Emotional Response

Sometimes, a conflict exists in which we find ourselves thinking ‘no’ while our emotions say ‘yes’. Just by observing our bodies, we can tune into our higher senses of awareness. The body will always present a truthful reflection of what is happening on the level of our thoughts and emotions. Look at the emotions, or rather, ‘feel’ them in the body. If there is an apparent conflict between your emotions and your thoughts, the thoughts will generally be the lies while the emotions will be the truth…not the ultimate truth of who you are, but the relative truth of your state of mind at the time.

For example, imagine that you are trying to decide between two job offers. You have logically analyzed both opportunities and understand the pros and cons of each option. Yet still, you don’t know which door to walk through next. What do you do? Well, you could try observing your body as you think of one job, and then do the same as you consider the other option. Is your body giving you subtle hints about which offer you would feel better taking? Do your muscles feel tight and your limbs tense when you imagine one job, while with the other you feel yourself relaxing into your chair and taking a breath? Sometimes, the clues are obvious, while at other times you might be so stressed that the Universe’s hints are difficult to sense at first. This is when relaxing into your body as much as you can will help tremendously. No one knows the answers to your questions but you. The key is to pause and listen to yourself instead of looking externally for the answer. You will find your way. There is no need to waste energy worrying about what might happen if you make the wrong decision. Focusing all your awareness on connecting with your Higher Self will bring you to where you want to be. It is that simple.

The ‘knowner’ behind the ‘thinker’

So, when we talk about the ‘mind’, we refer to both thoughts and emotions. It is very important to be aware of both the thoughts and the feelings that we experience and strive to be the ‘observer’ as much as possible. When we are able to step out of the experience of the thought or of the emotion and really SEE it is for what it is, we are taking steps towards expanding our consicousness. We begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, and that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. We also realize that all the things that truly matter – beauty, love, creativity, joy, and inner peace – arise from beyond the mind.

The mind is a superb instrument if used correctly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. It is not so much that we use the mind incorrectly, for most often, we really don’t use it at all – IT USES US! We believe that we are our mind and this is the delusion – the point at which the mind has taken over us! It is almost as if we are possessed without knowing it, and so we take the possessing entity (our minds) to be who we are. In order to free ourselves from our minds, it is necessary to realize that we are not the ‘thinker’.  We are much more than that! We are the ‘knower’ behind the ‘thinker’.

Within each one of us is that deeper self that immediately recognizes spiritual truth, resonates with it, and gains strength from it. This is why it is so important to ‘watch the thinker’, which will then allow us to ‘feel the knower’ (or inner voice) on a regular basis. We must begin to distinguish these two components of the inner dialogue – the false self that performs a continuous monologue babbling on about involuntary thoughts that he is unable to stop feeding, and the real self, the knower of spiritual truth, that resides within each of us and is trying to re-gain power over the ego (false self). The Higher Self wants to make us whole and complete and bring us into the present moment, into the blissful state of love, peace and joy.

Love, peace and joy are not truly ’emotions’. They lie beyond emotions on a much deeper level and cannot flourish until we have freed ourselves from mind-dominance.  Love, peace and joy are deep aspects of our inner connectedness with Being. Thus, they have no opposites because they arise from beyond the mind – from beyond duality. Emotions, on the other hand, being part of the dualistic mind, are subject to the Law of Opposites. This simply means that we cannot have good without bad. In the unenlightened, mind-identified condition, what is sometimes wrongly called joy is the usually short-lived pleasure side of the common pain/pleasure cycle that many of us find ourselves returning to regularly. Pleasure is always derived from something outside of us, whereas JOY arises from within. The very thing that gives us pleasure today, will give us pain tomorrow, or it will leave us, and then its absence will give us pain. When true joy is experienced, we settle into an authentic peaceful state that cannot be shaken by the external presence of duality.

So, how can we learn to control our thoughts and our emotions and thus free ourselves from this identification with our minds? How can we learn to separate ourselves from the ‘thinker’ and learn to be the ‘observer’? The good news is that we can free ourselves from our mind by learning to listen to the inner sense as much as possible. Pay particular attention to any repetitive thought patterns – those old audiotapes that have been playing in our heads for years. This is what is meant by ‘watching the thinker’, which is another way of saying: “Listen to the voice within and be there as a witnessing presence”.

Listen impartially, that is to say, do not judge nor condemn what you witness, for doing so would mean that the same voice has come in again through the back door! You will soon realize that “There is chatter, and here I am listening to it, watching it.” This I AM realization, this sense of our own presence, is not a thought – it arises from beyond the mind. Therefore, when we listen to a thought, we are aware not only of the thought, but also of our self as the witness. A new dimension of consciousness will have just come in! As we listen to the thought, we feel a conscious presence – a deeper self behind or underneath the thought. The thought then loses its power over us and quickly diminishes because we are no longer energizing it through our identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary compulsive thinking.

Disassociate from the mind

The single most important step on our journey toward enlightenment is this: Learn to disassociate from the mind. Every time you create a gap in the stream of thought, the light of your consciousness grows stronger. Enlightenment means rising above thought. In the enlighened state, we still use our thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way. We use it mostly for practical purposes, but we are free of the involuntary internal dialogue. We thus create inner stillness. When we use our mind when a creative solution is needed, we oscillate every few minutes between thought and stillness, between mind and no-mind. No-mind is consciousness without thought. Only in that way is it possible to think creatively, because only in that way does thought have any real power.

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