One of the biggest keys to happiness, maybe THE biggest, is controlling the mind. People tend to identify themselves with the random thoughts that dart in and out of their minds on a daily basis. However, you are not the mind, you are the Observer that sees the mind’s activities. The real You is pure consciousness that is neither male nor female, black nor white, Jew nor Gentile.
Now, even though the mind is not the real You, it does wield a lot of power. The thoughts we let dominate our minds influence everything from our health to our economic status to our feelings about other people. Has anyone ever been mad at you due to a story they had created in their mind about something they THINK you did or said? Then, when you finally cleared it up, wasn’t it amazing to observe how so much drama could have occurred around absolutely nothing? That is the power of the mind.
Mediation and Yoga teach us to control our minds so that we are not at the mercy of its whims. Meditation teaches us to identify with the Observer, the Spirit within, not the mind. When the mind does what it does during meditation (which is wander to useless things), meditators train their minds to return to their chosen focus. They do not chastise the mind nor follow it on wild goose chases. They treat it like a child, or a beloved pet, that needs to be properly trained in order to enjoy civilized company.
Similarly, Yoga teaches us to relax every muscle except the ones that are doing the hard work. This takes great discipline. Yoga also teaches us to accept what IS rather than forcing what we WISH. People who can’t learn to do that usually injure themselves, then give up Yoga. Yoga teaches us that wherever we are, right now, is perfect in its own way. Yoga is not goal-oriented like other forms of exercise; it is consciousness-oriented.
So, how do we apply these principles to everyday life? We are the Observer, not the mind. So, whenever something happens, we have the power to dictate what we tell ourselves about what happened – which determines our level of happiness. For instance, if you get a bad grade or lose your job or get dumped, you have a choice. You could allow your mind to tell you the following: “See, there! You are a loser! This kind of thing always happens to you! Why do you even try!?” Or, you could say “What is this moment trying to teach me? What kindness can I show myself to ease the pain of this situation? What is my next step?” Either way, the bad grade or the lost job or the ended relationship is what it is. The only difference is what you allow your mind to do with the situation, which determines your happiness and, often, your future success.
So, rather than allow our minds to run wild like out-of-control children at Costco, we can choose to ask ourselves the following questions:
1) What do I know? (as opposed to what stories am I making up about this situation) For instance if you see your husband talking extensively to a woman at a party, that is all you know. If you want to know more, such as what were they talking about and why was he talking to her so long, you would have to ask him…
2) Is there another way to look at this situation? For instance if someone gets promoted over you and your mind immediately cries “UNFAIR!”, ask yourself: “Is it possible they worked hard for the promotion?” “Is it possible I have not done my best?” “Is it possible that the Universe is trying to get me to move on to a different job or career altogether??”
3) How does my Higher Self want me to respond to this situation? For instance, with the first example of the husband talking to a girl at a party, do you think your Higher Self would have you fly into a rage and spit out accusations to your unsuspecting life partner? Probably not. Higher Self knows that this is not a real issue and that you should just remind yourself to be grateful that you got a hot man that you love! (On the other hand, if this is a real issue and a pattern of shady behavior, your Higher Self has probably been telling you that for a long time – LISTEN, for God’s sakes and take care of yourself!)
There are many many benefits to training the mind and it is a LIFELONG practice. Just like with exercise, training the mind must be continued regularly, forever, in order to reap the benefits. But the increase in peace, security, confidence, and general well-being are well worth the effort – and it gets easier with practice!
Peace and love. Have a great week and continue to follow your bliss…