Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Many Lies and Deceptions of the Over Active Mind

There seem to be 2 pretty common questions and issues that find their way into my inbox: how to keep relationships while on the spiritual path and how to stop all the chatter of the mind. Well, I've been writing about the relationship one a little bit as of late. I've talked about the evolution and transformation of relationships and how they all naturally come to some kind of completion because nothing is truly permanent in this world. So now, I'm stepping back out of the beautiful heart center and back up into the noggin for a little bit.

What Do You Want?
The internal programs that play out in the mind can seem quite daunting. They can get you thinking and potentially doing so much and so fast that you really have no idea what you're after. It's kind of like chasing your tail around and around in the yard, and God help you if you catch it. Then what? You're just biting yourself in the ass.

And I think some of you have probably hit that point. It's kinda like trying to be a champion of something or making a start-up work. If you're so lucky, you suddenly get to where you thought you should go and there's no one else there. You've sacrificed all kinds of other things--all kind of important things--only to get to the point where you thought you'd be happy. That happiness may be there, but if so, it is there only briefly, leaving you to vainly create and pursue other goals. Perhaps you set off on that next quest, but the result will be much the same because what you truly want is within you.

The Lie of the World Holding Your Fulfillment
One of the great lies that our minds have been taught and which it now regularly feeds back to us is that some external event will make us truly happy and fulfilled. Think about it? Why are you in the relationship that you're in, doing the job that you do, dreaming of the things that you dream of? Why are you on the "spiritual path?" You may be surprised to read this, but the "spiritual path" is not taking you towards your fulfillment--at least not in the way that you've been trained to think of it. Instead, the spiritual path is more like a full cavity strip search where all of you is stripped naked and bear. Because that's the only way to truly live and be fulfilled--it's to have all of our burdens taken away from us. Of course the problem is that we don't think of all the shields, walls, attachments, and things as burdens. We think we need them to define ourselves which leads us to the next big lie.

The Lie of Defining Yourself
Have you noticed how people (or yourself) get caught up in the phrase, "Well, this is just who I am." No. For most people in the unconscious state, how they are is how they were taught to be. They think that they've chosen it, but usually, they haven't spent any time at all to understand the programming that their families and societies have given them. It can start at the absurdly superficial with someone saying, "Well, I'm just a Dolce and Gabbana gal." No. Of course not. That's just an ego choice. Then it can get down into more subtle things like, "I'm just a love, not a fighter." Perhaps. Or are you hiding from the demand to stand up for yourself?

The list of lies we have to define ourselves is extensive. Here's one that doesn't seem like a lie: "I'm smart." Based on what? That's a comparative statement, and if you want to really piss off a "smart" person, then put him or her in a position where they aren't the most knowledgeable about a subject. But that's not even the point here. It's the ego attachment to the idea of being smart that's the problem. It's the ego attachment to all these different traits that we think we are that is in the way. Even the ones that seem like "good" ones can be just as problematic. I had a wonderful conversation last night with a new friend about how all these monks in a monastery were "trying" to be kind and harmonious to each other. But because of all the unworked out issues, it had turned the monastery into a vile and angry place on the deeper level. That attachment to trying to define themselves as "always peaceful" has instead created an enormous shadow side of unacknowledged emotion. And that example extends to all of humanity in how we try to act specific roles, and it is part of why we are so sick.

Accepting All Aspects of Ourselves
The mind is really just a record player or computer. It can have the record it's playing be replaced, or it can be re-programmed. That's the good news. And oh by the way, having traits and characteristics that are distinctive to you is just fine--it's the constant attachment and the record repeating over and over again that this is who you are that's the problem. For instance, I don't have to be a spiritual teacher. Having had my full cavity strip search a couple of times, those two words--spiritual teach--are simply clothes that I put on. I can take them off. That's what I'm encouraging here. I'm not telling you that you should become mindless lumps with no preferences for anything. That's nonsense. But right now, most of you don't even understand your preferences. You don't know why you like what you like or do what you do. That's not a mean thing to say: it's a statement of fact.

Others of you have started to chip into this big iceberg of lies, and you may feel overwhelmed. But you've gotten started, and that's important. There is that warm soft core of yourself that you're working your way towards. So as you go, I encourage you to take heart. You created the mental programs that are playing in your head, and so you--and only you--can create new ones. If anything, as you go, you're going to feel more empowered and lightened (seriously, your body will often feel like it is physically carrying less). This is part of the en-lightening process, so just let go of the lies and delete the programs that do not suit you. You don't need them.


Tips and Techniques for Facing the Over Active Mind
Well, I don't expect to be very ground-breaking with my tips on this stuff. Anyone who has been reading this blog can pretty much guess what the first two will be. But I encourage you that you can do this. That's the most important thing in all of this. We can get caught up in the lie that we're powerless to change ourselves or our worlds, and that's just not true. So keep in mind when you do any of these tips that you're in the process of taking back your power--potentially for the first time ever.
  1. Meditate. All right, who didn't see that one coming? The one thing I would say here is that this is about paying attention to your thoughts and not trying to get rid of them. There are also plenty of different forms of meditation and different amounts of time that you can meditate for. I recommend at least 15 minutes a day because if you can't even create that much time for yourself, then you've got a lot more to review in your life than you may realize.
  2. Journal. Yep. Not a surprise for many of you. Write out your thoughts. What are they about? What are the stories? And then most importantly, where did those stories come from? I find that tracing the story backwards is like getting to the root of a weed. As you cultivate the garden of your soul, it's important to get to the root cause of things so that you make lots of space for things to grow in your life.
  3. Love. Love yourself, that is. The spiritual path is a path of love and not self-abasement. You're not going to get this all right. It won't be perfect. Things are going to get messy, so perhaps for 5 to 10 minutes a day, just stop and put your hand on you heart. Close your eyes and focus on how much you love yourself and appreciate the work you are doing to live in your fullness. This alone may be a powerful practice and bring up many things for you.
The Calming of the Mind
In some ways, the mind is also a screaming child who just wants to have its need met--its real needs. Many parents out there know that a child oftentimes has no idea what s/he wants. In many ways, that's your mind. It's just being doing what it's been trained to do. And while the ego (which is more a collective of traits and perspectives) has thought it's been ruling the mind, it really hasn't. You've been crashing around pointlessly through life even when you thought you were in control. You may be extremely humbled to see how out of control you've been. The good news is that this can be done, and as you meet the needs that you have, things will calm down like the child that gets the bottle it didn't know it wanted. And gradually, you'll begin to find a clarity about yourself, others, and your life that you didn't know you had.

And then the real work will begin.
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