One of the most slippery aspects of learning about the body/mind is this confounding human consciousness. A very human belief is that how we perceive life is a constant. Well, like everything else in life , that too is always changing. There are so many different influences upon our thought patterns: our health, the seasons, different stresses and worries, if we are rested, If we are exhausted, day to day hormonal balances, how people around us are behaving, how we are behaving, our relationships, the weather, our upbringing, our patterns of internal dialogue and these are just a few of the ever-changing landscapes that are always affecting our body/minds every moment that we live on this mudball rocketing through space.
It is also my belief that from time to time patterns of thoughts appear, much like a cold or virus, that plays havoc with our normal (if there is such a thing) operating systems. What are some of the signs we are caught in these patterns?: Circular thinking, (thoughts that just keep rolling through, over and over and over), Blaming all of your problems on something or somebody else, Depressed thinking, negative thinking about yourself and others, Incessant arguments in your head with others, incessant arguments with yourself, feelings of self-righteousness, pig-headedness, anger. Let us all be real, this happens to all of us. Welcome to the human condition.
The first step is to become aware of your thinking patterns. Meditation is a big help here. refer to my meditation #1. The other thing is to start to do things a little differently in your daily routine. Change your morning routine, take a different route to work, start to look at your daily patterns and shift them up. The other thing to do is once you start to notice your thoughts, especially negative ones, is to notice them. Shine a little light on them. Don’t try and change them, don’t go to battle with them, just watch. Once again it is about paying attention. For a great book on the subject pick up Anthony Demello’s book called “Awareness“. I think this should be assigned reading for everyone on the planet.
So why this post from me, today? Because I noticed, I was getting stuck in some unhelpful patterns. What did I do? I sat down and did meditation #1 for 30 minutes or so, then shifted my focus to the New Forest. Then played some Tai Chi and tried to play it differently than I have in some time. Is the pattern gone? I think this one may take a few days. However, I did feel it shift, I did notice a change, and the Monkey mind that I started with was less hyper more relaxed. There is a misconception, that someday we will arrive at this place where everything is wonderful, that we will never have , anger , depression, fear, discomfort. To me, the key to living a contemplative life is to be involved with the dance of change, knowing that there is a more encompassing self than the one that says: I Am Happy! I am Sad! I am Tired! I am Angry! The idea is to know that you will have all of these emotions pass through you, like clouds in the sky, and not hold tightly to any of them. Instead saying to yourself, ” I have happiness passing through me! ,I have anger passing through me! , I have sadness passing through me, and so on. You just pay attention.
You view the comings and goings of your thoughts with what we refer to as the Three D’s. Distance, Delicacy, and Deference. Briefly, when and event or thought comes into focus, you first view it with a little distance, in other words, you don’t grasp at it, you just look at it, from a distance. As if you are viewing yourself from a distance having that thought or you involved in the event. Secondly, you view it with delicacy, which means instead of grabbing ahold of it like a wrestler you instead hold it like a child reaching out to hold a finger. Thirdly, is viewing the thought or event with Deference. Deference is yielding to the thought or event with a courteous respect, not making any judgements, as to its rightness or wrongness, just gently and kindly watching it. Then with practice and over time, thoughts become what they are, thoughts and the endless stream of them. This is a great exercise for viewing yourself and others.
Because it is so annoying to have to wake up, and see your thoughts for what they are. Here is a pretty picture of fall leaves in the Smoky mountains to distract you.
Now, back to playing! Pay attention! Watch your thoughts!