Mindful about your thoughts
Your mind is amazing. Thoughts come up all the time, as well as emotional states. However, these thoughts actually start to arise at a subliminal level before they come into conscious awareness. Many times, a thought arises, together with an emotional feeling, before you even know it is there. When this happens, and you are not aware of it, the thoughts are rooted in your mind (consciousness).
Being more aware of your thoughts, you now know that you are thinking and/or feeling something, and this can help you to become more aware (mindful) of what you say. When we identify with thought, we give it power and allow it to rule our mind. The thought then brings about our emotional state, for example if the thought is connected to something painful, then pain, depression and/or anxiety. We try to get rid of it by “looking at the bright side.” However, because the thought has already been given power over the mind, it is there; stuck in the subconscious! How, you might ask, does that work? In a nutshell; your subconscious mind is like a computer hard drive. It cannot distinguish between what is true or false; anything that is being said, believed, or told are stored there. For example, if you tell a child he / she is stupid, the child will start to believe it, store the “idea” in his / her subconscious, and believe – and become – stupid! That is why it is important for us to think before we speak, as words can be more powerful than we think.
Owning the thoughts that pop up in your mind brings you a step closer to being more aware, more mindful, of your thoughts and feelings. We create thought patterns, thus emotional states, by habit. When we think in a certain way due to our beliefs or the way we were brought up, it is often difficult to break the thought patterns. Mindfulness and meditation are two ways to teach yourself to become more aware of the thoughts entering your mind. Before it becomes stuck (and causing a certain emotional state), you acknowledge the thought as it arises at a subliminal level. You just know when this happens; you are aware of it but you don’t get attached to it.
So often we attach emotions to our thoughts through habit, but what we don’t realize is that by doing this, we give our power away. By being mindful we allow the thoughts to surface, but we don’t get emotionally attached to it. Indeed, not easy; and I am not saying that you cannot become emotionally attached. By giving our emotions too much power over our logical thinking, is not good for anybody. There must be a balance between logic and emotion; between heart and mind.
Mindfulness (and meditation) teaches you that you should think of your thoughts as a movie scene – you are aware of it but you don’t get attached to it. Your brain has more power than you realize and it is the state of your mind that holds the key to whether or not you give thoughts the upper hand over your emotional well-being or not. You always have a choice; you can choose what to think, what to believe, what to feel, just as you choose what to eat, what to drink and what to wear.
A free mind is not a blank mind without any thoughts and/or feelings. It is a mind that is able to observe the thoughts and decide whether or not to become attached to it or not. You become the observer and not the participant. Being in the present moment, the here and now, is important. Life has its ups and downs; sometimes things happen that you have no control over and your emotions and thoughts throw you off balance. When you can become still and be in the moment, then you can calm yourself and know that “this too shall pass.” Deep breathing is a wonderful way to calm you down, as it slows the heart rate and helps the mind to become clear and still.
Instead of becoming overwhelmed or submerged into a situation, you stand back, look at it from all angles, bringing your mind and emotions into balance. This doesn’t mean that you cannot feel or say anything; it simply means that you are taking your power back and not allowing your thoughts to “run away” with your emotions. You become a person that is still loving, but you are more balanced and, because of your state of mind, you can deal with situations better and be at peace at the same time.