Taming an unruly mind is not unlike training an unruly dog. Patience, persistence, determination, intention and love are all included. It’s most effective to leave behind the all-too-human propensity towards self-criticism, which doesn’t contribute anything valuable to the process of gaining mastery over our minds. The instructions have been available for eons – the ancients (think Buddha and Padmasambhava) codified a system for inner peace that has proven to be challenging to us modern humans.
In this universe of polarities, right and wrong, good and bad, up and down mour surface situations continue to change dramatically sometimes from one day to the next. Technological “advances” seem to have had the opposite effect on the human spirit. Addicted to “devices” many people do not seem to be aware of the world around them, bringing it all down to a tiny screen on a tiny electronic box, called a “Smart Phone”. Those nuggets of magnetism are miraculous, no doubt, and become more so every day. How is this possible? The human mind is also miraculous, unrelentingly imagining then creating improvements, modifications and changes to the way things function.
The down side of all this activity is the need for a busy mind. It has come to be called ADD, attention deficit disorder, which is replicating mightily these days – and is perhaps the siren song of our civilization. It seems that most of us have forgotten how to sit quietly and contemplate. Here is the challenge! There is a lot of evidence that a wealth of material possessions does not bring happiness or deep peace. In fact, clearing clutter has become a best selling idea, only made possible by the overabundance of non-essential items that tend to collect when we have expendable income. Clearing our homes of excess things doesn’t necessary clear our minds, but interestingly the processes can be parallel in their unfolding. What this means to me is – clearing mental clutter is a process of examining thoughts and choosing whether to turn the volume up or down on them. Recycle, compost or just donate to the landfill, but get rid of unhelpful thoughts!
It’s a good start to simply ask yourself these basic questions: is this thought helpful and supportive, is it relevant and useful, and does it make me feel good? The best test of a thought is how our body responds when we think it. We all know what it feels like to have the white hot heat of anger, or some other uncomfortable feeling grab us and wrestle us to the symbolic mat. In our discomfort it is easy to lash out – causing harm to those we love. It is a sign of maturity and the wondrous benefit of effective inner work to be able to choose wisely under emotional duress. It’s a work in progress for sure, it’s certainly more desirable to my mind than remaining are willing mired in old ways of conflict and abuse.
Taking a stand in our lives to shift our relations and learn to truly love is, in my belief, the one true path in life. Other things matter little in comparison, and the I’m sure that at the end of our lives what really matters is how much love we shared. There was a bumper sticker going around “he who dies with the most toys wins”. Nothing, to my mind could be farther from the truth. Choose love, dear ones.