In my first post in this three-part wellbeing series, I explored relationship with body and shared what works for me. Now, I'd like to explore the question, what is Mind?
I've been curious about this question for years. In the past, I have understood mind to be the storehouse for the brain that governs intellect, analysis, reasoning and decision making. It is the trusted warehouse of information for western civilization and the home of our thoughts.
Now, I understand mind differently. After years of inquiry and massive growth, I’ve come to develop a different relationship with mind: Mind with a capital “M”. Divine Mind connects us all – and I’ve come to see it as the innate intelligence that makes up everything and connects us all.
Some call it wellbeing, some call it innate wisdom, some call it the universal intelligence. Whatever we call it, I know one thing for sure: I can rely on it, unwaveringly. And, although it may be difficult to describe in words (hence why this blog post has taken so long to write), Mind has an impeccable reliability to provide personalized, applicable and timely insights to current decisions, challenges, and situations. The more I rely on it, the more I am blown away by its perfection and timeliness – giving me exactly what I need exactly when I need it.
Mind is not thought. Thoughts come from Mind. Thoughts are the natural state of human thinking. We have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts a day, yet it takes most of us some growth to understand that we get to choose which thoughts we want to focus on and bring into form. Yes, thoughts are form – meaning, whatever we attach to, we experience as our reality.
“I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts,” just like “I have a body, but I am not my body.” This has taken years of practice to remember. Thoughts are tricky. They appear to be so real. But, truthfully, thoughts are just thoughts until we attach to them, digest them and feel them. Thoughts manufacture feelings and become powerful projectors that create the reality we experience — again, only when we digest them, believe them, anchor them and feel them.
Lower quality thoughts produce lower moods and vice versa, lower moods produce lower quality thoughts. When I am in a low mood, like being at the bottom of a dark well, my vision is limited to the number of options I can see. When my mood is high, like being on a mountain top, I am able to see more expansively and more optimistically. I am able to see the peaks and valleys, the forest and not just the trees.
When I find myself in a lower mood, it is difficult to remember that new thoughts will eventually come in without me having to force, fix or try any tactics to get them to change. This has been a huge learning for me as I have studied positive psychology, psychotherapy, and healing traditions that are riddled with tactics to help you “think your way” to happiness. I learned methods like “cancel cancel” when a negative thought comes in or “focusing on the positive” to channel my mindset. Sometimes, those strategies work but for the most part, thoughts will come and go on their own, without me intervening. After a lot of practice (and I am still practicing), I can trust wholeheartedly that my mood will shift at some point, because that is the nature of mind — it changes. When our mindset changes, our thoughts change, and when our thoughts change, our feelings change.
That all said, there are a few things I can count on that help quiet the monkey mind and help me see thought as a transient natural passing that comes and goes, on its own.
Recognizing I am in thought. This simple awareness creates just enough space between my identity and my thoughts - the realization that they are not one and the same. I am not my thoughts, I am just having low quality or high-quality thought. And, those thoughts will change and shift on their own.
Not buying into them. As I stated earlier, in a given day, we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts or 35-48 thoughts per minute. Not all of them are true. In fact, most of them are coming from our beliefs, our habitual thinking, our conditioning, and our lived experiences as if we are in a circular play that keeps repeating. Often, we are just simply in habitual thinking.
Change my focus. Literally picking a different subject to focus on, talk about or explore helps me release whatever I am grinding on. You see, what we focus on comes about. I can count on my wisdom and the intelligence of something greater than myself (Divine Mind, Innate Nature, Wellbeing, or whatever one calls it) to bring me a solution, an in-sight, or an idea that will escort a new way to view the challenge or opportunity I was working through.
Getting out in nature. Going outside and surrounding myself with beauty fills my mind, body and soul. I do my best to bring my presence to what surrounds me. I bring awareness to the feeling of the air upon my face, the tree branches and leaves, the colors and life-force all around. I find the sun and thank it for its vibrancy and life-giving force, light and warmth.
Three Principles. Three years ago, I got introduced to the Three Principles of mind, consciousness and thought as a result of attending an intensive with my dear friend and Mind Body coach, Scott Kelly. I gained a new understanding of how life works, that left with me a deeper sense of peace and flow then ever before. This led me to further my study with other Three Principle coaches like the Pransky’s, Barbara Patterson and Elsie Spittle. My co-leader, Jeff Shuck, and I have experienced a bunch of retreats and coaching from these incredible guides that helped us trust and lead ourselves and team in the most profound and fulfilling way.
The Work. Author and speaker, Byron Katie, is an enlightened enigma who has helped millions of people question the truth and validity of their thinking. Her story is fascinating, and I’ve found that her simple question, “Is it true?” to be profound and powerful.
Meditation. Whether I am guiding and leading others through meditation, or being led, I settle, quiet and find myself letting go of whatever is on my mind. This has been one of the most enjoyable practices that I’ve had the privilege to participate in and lead for groups. Witnessing, noticing and observing without attachment. Opening myself to the flow and the current of life that is always on and always on offer.
One of my recurring lessons in this lifetime is the idea that I have thoughts but I am not my thoughts. I have a mind but I am not my mind. I have a body but I am not my body. I am so much more and so are you. There is something deeper, larger, and more powerful that makes us up and connects us all. It is mysterious and formless and yet it carries a wisdom within that is guiding us along the way.
What have you found that works for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts and invite you to share and comment so we can learn and grow together.