“She should listen more. I am an introvert. A perfectionist. This is not for me. I have to give 100% at all times. He is selfish. I can’t handle mess. It’s not fair. This shouldn’t happen to me.”
Recognise some of these? Hello thoughts. We have thousands of them a day apparently.
I have them a lot. Thoughts about others, myself, situations in life, work, children, even the weather. I always had, and always will. However, things are not quite the same around thoughts as back in the day: I used to believe them. I no longer do. As thoughts are lies.
The workaholic powerful mind
The mind is a thought producer. And it works 24/7. It chats and makes stuff up. Rules, should-be’s, could-be’s, would-be’s, opinions, worries, conclusions, interpretations, and so on. Thoughts are powerful. We can all relate to feeling better about something after a good conversation. We changed our thoughts around it. And sometimes we go back to feeling bad – we changed our thoughts again. See how unstable this is? Our thoughts bash us around. They determine how we feel. Taking us through the (e)motions, the so-called up’s and downs, highs and lows. All over the place.
A place of stillness
Now, imagine going through life with a sense of calmness regardless of what we are going through. Whether we experience sadness, anger, disappointment, stress, jealousy, frustration (yes go in, keep adding), somewhere within us there is a place of stillness – where everything is calm and okay.
This isn’t a fairy-tale. This place exists. It doesn’t replace another place; it just exists alongside everything else.
We all have this place within us. It may just be a bit fogged up, eclipsed. But it is there. Imagine it like the sun. Always shining. We may just not see it because of clouds, rain or fog. Even the whole earth can be in the way sometimes! But we know the sun is always out there. It’s a fact.
This place within us is real too. We do have a sun within us. Constantly shining, no exception. And its not affected by the rain, clouds, fog or earth. It just does its thing non-stop. Absolute stability, unshakable and untouchable.
This place, I call inner truth. Absolute knowing, being, our truthful us. The place of our heart. The fog, rain, clouds in this metaphor are our beliefs, rules, opinions we have created over time. In one word: thoughts, the place of the mind.
Fogged up, but still there
Over time it is likely our lives have fogged up. We haven’t seen that sun for a while. And may have forgotten the existence completely. Or we may still know it’s there, but we just can’t find the way through that fog! Lost.
And now all we are left with are our thoughts, our set of beliefs, rules, opinions – the rulebook. Which we fall back on for guidance – and then life starts to look like the first paragraph from this post. It’s narrow, fixated, a bit numb. It wants to find what is wrong, searches for explanation, solutions or something to blame.
It’s not effortless, free and loving. It’s not living fully.
Let’s bring in some sunshine.
Just seeing, not believing our thoughts
Unfortunately, we can’t switch off the mind. Just like the sun always shines, the mind always produces thoughts, it’s just what it does. But let’s see whether we can reduce their impact on us, so they don’ take over.
The suffering in regards to thoughts has nothing to do with having the thoughts, but everything with believing them. Just think about how one and the same experience can upset us deeply, but wouldn’t affect someone else at all. This has all got to do with how we relate to the experience, which comes from the thoughts we have about it. The event is still the event, our thoughts determine the experience.
Our task becomes to recognise our thoughts. See when and what thought is at play when we feel upset, stressed, hurt, frustrated and so on. What is the thought I am having about this? And is what I am thinking true? Can we leave the thought for what it is? An output from the mind? Full stop.
Just this seeing alone helps to relate to the experience differently. We become our own observer. We take ourselves out of the experience. It is like watching a movie in which we are the main character. We are no longer just the main character; we are also the audience watching the movie itself.
We are splitting in two: the one with the experience the one watching the one with the experience.
Splitting ourselves in two
The place we are watching from is ‘the real me’, inner truth, it’s where the sun I talked about earlier, shines. The real me is the wisest part within. It has no opinion, rules or preference. It’s okay with any situation, with not knowing, with being uncomfortable, and with any feeling that arises in life. It’s just really relaxed and takes life as it comes.
The real me watches the ‘doing me’. The one who has all the experiences, the one who lives life: doing, thinking, feeling. It’s the place where the mind lives, with all its rules, beliefs, opinions and ideas.
Not resisting, just shifting
The challenge and the invite is to stay with ‘the real me’. To not let it fogged up. Connect with the sun, become the sun, watching the fog and clouds appearing and disappearing. See all thoughts, and realise they are not the real us. Saying ‘this is not me, it’s just the mind’, is helpful to me.
No further engagement with the thought. So not resisting it either. What we feed will grow. Resisting it is feeding it with power. Let the thought just be.
This attention shift means a power shift; thoughts become less powerful, the real us becomes more powerful.
We may still have all our emotions and feelings, but we no longer get bashed around by them.