Watching your mind

Something absolutely fundamental to every individual in every aspect of life is the ability to watch your mind. The ability to watch how your mind works, and gently guide it in the direction you want is a powerful skill invaluable to all those who want to be successful, whatever success means to them. It requires honesty and strictness with yourself, evaluating your thoughts and feelings, and being able to hold them up to your personal standards. 

Picture A River

Picture a river, floating down that river is a series of logs, some big logs & some small logs, all bumping into each other but moving past your viewpoint at the river bank nontheless. Each of these logs is a thought or feeling. The bigger the log the more energy that thought or feeling has. 

As these logs float down the river you watch and acknowledge them, noticing what other thoughts and feelings pop up from acknowledging them. The goal is not to pick and choose which thoughts or feelings you like and focus on those, but to focus on all of them equally, even the most uncomfortable and painful thoughts. As you go through this process of acknowledging these thoughts and feelings as they go by, try to pick up on how each one affects you. 

Do they give you a warm fuzzy feeling?

Perhaps they piss you off or frustrate you?

Perhaps they pull at your attention, trying to make your train of thought go down a rabbit hole. 

Acknowledging these thoughts as they pass by is simple ( but not easy ) and is a good way of meditating with these thoughts. As you hold this image in your mind of the river and logs, you can watch as the logs pass right by you. You are not forcing attention towards a particular thought or feeling, simply being aware of it as it continues floating down the river, until all they are is little blips on the horizon, now long gone. 

Allowing these logs to go right by, not holding on to any particular one, is hard. Each of them tries to grab your attention and take you in a particular direction. Fortunately though we have the power within us to let go from this pull, not shaming the thought, not praising it, just watching it float by. 

This gives powerful insight to us, noticing how these logs effect us, how we choose to respond to them, and how we can use any of them, even the negative ones, to our advantage. 

How you think is how you are

Thoughts and feeling make up our mind, how we think, feel, and respond is how we deal with life, and all the external aspects of it that we cannot control, exerting our power over the one thing we will always have control over: our minds. 

Your thoughts and feelings make up who you are. How you act or react, how you deal with adversity, and how you treat yourself and others throughout your life. 

Being aware of we think and feel, means we are aware of who we are, in the present moment. We are not looking to the past, instead focusing on the right here, right now.

Who we are at the most fundamental level, is what we give our time, energy, and attention towards. What we do, what we talk about, what we think about. 

If you notice your thoughts trend towards the negative, if your speech tends towards blame, if your actions tend towards the irrelevant. I have good news for you: you are in full control of all of these, they can be changed and improved, just as your personality and attitude is malleable, so too are your thoughts, speech, and actions. 

Noticing negative thought patterns and replacing them 

When I was struggling with depression and overthinking, the act of noticing negative thought patterns and their catalysts was my ultimate weapon, it was the single most important tool in my armamentarium to pull myself out of the deep and dark mental pit. I knew that my problem was rooted in my mind, which meant that it should have been something within my control. 

As my awareness of my mind grew, I learned that I had to separate my sense of self from my thoughts. I would not allow the negative thought patterns in my head to ruin me. I watched my mind, and I searched for patterns, what thoughts lead toward a negative spiral? If my thoughts were already spiraling I searched for the root cause, what was it that I gave my attention to that started these spirals?  

I worked backwards from a negative spiral and back-tracked until I found the catalyst. 

I did my best to learn from a thought, making sure that if the same catalyst pops up again, I would not give it my attention, I would simply (but not easily)  acknowledge it, move on, and do my best to replace that negative energy with positive energy. When I did not have the strength to think positively, I would compromise with neutrality. 

Rather than ignoring the painful thoughts with distraction and deafeningly loud music, I forced myself to acknowledge them, to question them and do my best to learn from them. This was hard, at sometimes it felt damn near impossible. I had to work with what I had, but with limited energy and severe insomnia, I could not give very much. I gave as much as I could, but made sure to be forgiving of myself at all times, being kind & understanding in my own head. 

Gently guiding our thoughts 

Whatever circumstances we are in, whatever adversity we have been forced to deal with, we will always have power over our minds. There is aways something useful that we can take from any adversity, we can learn something, or use the obstacle as a chance to practice virtues such as patience, perseverance, and determination. 

We can find a pattern in our thinking or reactions that we don't want to continue and make an effort towards that. If we don't want to be the person that is always blaming others for what happens to them, we can practice holding ourselves accountable. If we want to be the person whose words make an impact, we can practice speaking only when needed, and improve at articulating our thoughts. If we want to be the person who always boosts the energy in any room we're in, we can practice spreading positivity & encouragement. 

We can think as best as we can in the present moment, and act as best we can in the present moment. Giving the task at hand our all, so that even if it does not end up perfect, we can walk away accomplished, knowing that we did all that we could. This is key to getting rid of regrets, if you always do the best in your present circumstances, then the only thing to do when something goes wrong is to learn from it. 

We can use control of our minds to bring control over our lives, guiding our thoughts in the direction we want to take them in. 

The particular direction isn't as important as taking the first step is. You will figure it out as you go, but you have to get going first. So don't overwhelm yourself thinking you have to be change your whole life, only 1 thought that you can improve on. We can forever accept that we are human, we should be kind to ourselves and to others, while we all go traveling on our own journeys. 

All you have to focus on right now, is right now. Taking a step forward. 

When the next moment comes, take another. 

And another. 

And another. 

Keep Journeying,