Watch your thoughts
When you are asleep in life, thoughts completely take you over. You fail to differentiate between who you really are and the thoughts that take place in your mind. You accept your thoughts as totally true and blindly react to them. For most people, their thoughts are in the background. They are a constant drone of noise that they are completely unaware of. As we awake, we realise the distinction between the thoughts of our mind and who we truly are. Our true self is peace, happiness and pure joy. It is the out-of-control mind that creates suffering, agitation and misery.
To begin this process, watch your thoughts. Be a good gardener of your mind. Be attentive to what is growing in your mind, just as a good gardener is aware of the weeds that are trying to take hold while at the same time nurturing the ﬂowers. Turn up the volume of your thoughts. Bring them to the surface. Observe them. I’m not talking about thoughts that we need to deal with a practical situation. Instead, I’m taking about the background noise in your head as you perform certain activities or routines throughout the day.
Keep an eye on repetitive thoughts. What thoughts do you repeat over and over again? How long have you been running these thoughts through your head? When do your thoughts arise most frequently? What affect do these thoughts have on your body? How do you feel when you think these thoughts? Do you reach a conclusion from these thoughts? Do they help you in any way? How much time do these thoughts take from you?
Don’t analyse your thoughts, as I don’t wish to replace one form of thought with another. I just want you to notice your thoughts, how often they occur and how you feel as a result of them. Do you feel tense? Do you feel happy? Do they distract you? When you are tense does this affect people around you? I would like you to become aware of this. By watching your thoughts without reacting to them, you learn about the nature of thought and become less of a prisoner to it.
For example, when you are talking with somebody, do you have a lot of thoughts? When you are reading a book or doing a task, does thought after thought distract you? When you go for a walk in nature, is your attention in your head or are you really seeing, hearing and feeling what is going on around you? When you are driving, do you lose track of the journey and enter the stream of mind? When you are brushing your teeth, is that all you are doing or where is your attention? When you are eating a meal, are you enjoying each mouthful or did your mind take you over soon after the ﬁrst bite? When you have breakfast, are you also reading the newspaper, the writing on the cereal box or whatever else is available? As you drink a cup of tea, are you really tasting what you are drinking, sip by sip? When you go to the toilet, are you really there at all or is your attention elsewhere?
Please do the above and, in every situation that you ﬁnd yourself in, watch how you are thinking. Are you really living life or are you solely living in your head? Are you missing what is going on around you or are you really connected? Is your mind causing you torture and draining you of energy? Do you think to reach a conclusion or are your thoughts a merry-go-round with no ﬁnality? Be honest, as you are not alone. Humans have lost the ability to control their minds. They have no idea of what is taking place in their mind. They are asleep.
Is the mind the absolute truth?
Many inﬂuences shape your life: events, TV, propaganda, literature, advertising, family, friends, parents, society, education and religion. All of these things develop and condition the programmes of your mind. In turn, this inﬂuences how you act, react, perceive and interpret. Ultimately, no attitude, behaviour, thought or opinion is truly yours.
One child grows up with a parent who constantly fears poverty. Year in and year out, he listens to his father talk about a lack of money and all of his bills, and wonder aloud about what money is coming in the future and whether he will have work in a few months. His father is afraid to spend money for fear of the future. The child listens to this from day one to when he gains independence and leaves home. His father has a poverty consciousness and chances are that it will be passed onto the child. Later in life, whenever a decision is made relating to money, the child who grows into an adult will look through his poverty consciousness. Every time he receives a bill in the post, his stomach will tense. Anytime that he goes to the bank to deal with a small issue, he will worry about it beforehand. If someone overcharges him, he will get very agitated. He will make choices solely based on money. This person will constantly fear and worry about ﬁnances. A loss of money will be a great hardship to him.
Another child lives in a household of similar means but with a father who has a comfortable attitude about money. He is careful and does not overspend. He does his work and earns a living, even though sometimes it is not easy. Things always fall into place. This father does not constantly complain about a lack of ﬁnances. If he has a tight few months, he realises that this will change. This child will grow up to be an adult who does not fear for a lack of money.
The ﬁrst child who grows into an adult will believe his viewpoint to be absolutely true. Tension, anger and arguments will arise if his partners’ behaviours differ from his. The second child will grow into an adult without such heavy opinions regarding ﬁnance and money. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is acting out of free will? Are you any different?
Our mind is shaped and conditioned by many factors over which we have no control. Many of our thoughts are shaped completely by our past, and are based on the opinions, habits, events and actions of other people. For most of us, we are living a life imposed by someone else. Do you think you are living a life free from the inﬂuences of others? Don’t accept what your mind throws up at you to be the absolute truth. We all form opinions about people, situations and events. But are these completely true or are they based on our past conditioning?