Before you can unlock the mind you need to acknowledge that it might be locked. And, how do you find out if it is locked?
The secret is to notice what you think.
Most of the time there is a stream of thoughts running through your mind, dictating how you live your life – and you can follow that stream on autopilot, if you choose. After all, a lot of those thoughts are simply replays of the instructions passed to you by well intentioned people like parents or teachers or pastors.
If you never actually examine the thoughts you live by, you’ll never know whether you’re locked into patterns of behaviour or ways of seeing the world. And, if you’re locked in, what might you be missing out on?
Here are some practices you can use to examine that flow of thoughts.
Morning pages, as described by Julia Cameron in the Artists Way, is one way you can uncover what’s going on in your mind. Another way is to try some form of meditation that allows you to stop all your busyness and watch the thoughts that come into your awareness. Mindfulness is one form of meditation you can try.
Something else you could experiment with is writing down what you do each day and looking for patterns, or pay attention to the words you use in your daily speech. Do you hear yourself saying the same thing over and over? What words are you using to describe the world you live in?
Do you have a tendency to insist on being right? You know – It’s your way or the highway!
It’s such a liberating feeling discovering that something you have always thought was right or true isn’t, especially when it’s a limiting thought telling you about something you can’t or shouldn’t do.
Go on, give it a try. You might surprise yourself.
Thanks for dropping by, Peter.
For those of us living in Southern Australia the traditional biblical picture of hell has been a living reality this last week. We have endured five days straight of 42 degrees C plus ( that’s around 108 F plus for those living in the non-metric world) daytime temperatures, fanned by hot northerly winds, and very warm nights. Large parts of South Australia and Victoria are ablaze thanks to thousands of lightening strikes, and a few angry arsonists who can’t stand to let Mother Nature have all the fun. Tonight, Friday as I write, a weather changing storm is blowing through and spreading ‘out of control’ fires. Here in the city, where the power grid worked overtime to keep our air conditioners running day and night, I am typing this on my iPad by candlelight, as the storm has knocked out the power lines in my suburb.
For those of you living in northern parts of the USA and Canada, the last few weeks have been a lot closer to the version of hell described by Dante in his Inferno – a frozen lake at the bottom of the underworld. That sort of puts paid to that expression “When hell freezes over!” According to Dante, it already has.
So, is hell a hot or cold place? A better question might be, is hell a place at all?
Hell is more a state of mind than a place from where I sit, and you don’t have to die to go there. Hell is that state of mind where you believe nobody loves you, that everyone is out to get you, there is no God and there are no good people in the world. It’s that place where life has no meaning or purpose, and you have no value. You may have been there. I’ve been in the vicinity. I can recall a time when I was describing my life as dull, colourless and boring.
How do you get out if you realise you have wandered into hell? The first step is to recognise it’s your own mind that has put you there, and then stop denying you’re there. You can’t get out of any place if you don’t acknowledge where you are. Getting out of hell is like getting out of anywhere else. You have to start from where you are. Looking honestly at the stories you are telling yourself, and recognising that they are stories and not facts or truths, is a good place to start. Listen to your stories and then ask yourself – is it a fact? Where’s the evidence?
Most of the stuff we tell ourselves, or let others tell us, is nothing more than opinion based on interpretation based on previous opinions. And that goes for what I’m telling you too. You need to check out what is true for you. Don’t just take my word for it.
Time for some self-honesty if you want out of hell.
I’ll leave with this thought. There is nothing keeping you there outside of your own mind.
Loving yourself is the way out.
Thanks for dropping by, Peter.