"There is nothing in this world that can trouble you as much as your own thoughts."
How are you today? Is the sun shining over there, too? If not, I am sending you the sun`s love, warmth, and tickle! :)
Our mind naturally assesses, judges, and worries to help detect any risks, dangers, and threats. This might have been existential during the Stone Age, but now - intensified by the external world building on fear - we might have put a slight overweight and reliance on our mind. Nowadays, there are several tools to "master our mind", to "be more in the present moment", and to "meditate" to escape or calm our mind. But as you may have experienced (or maybe you might haven`t noticed), our mind can be so powerful that soon our fear-based thoughts take over control.
There is one nice, scientific explanation for this - while I won`t go into the scientific details, it basically outlines that with our constant thoughts of the same type (e.g. based on fear), a neural pathway has been established, that is mostly used, thus, inviting thoughts to go this route. You can imagine it like the biggest highway or the deepest groove where the water, when it e.g. has rained, naturally flows taking those paths that nature has formed. So when something happens in our outside world - be it someone`s comment, a surprising circumstance, or just the weather condition - depending on what highway, or neural pathway, we have been using constantly and conveniently, our experiences of life will naturally take the appropriate shape.
So, for example, if the weather is sunny (which it is today) - if we are not aware, this external event (sunny weather condition) will take our usual (in this case, fear-based) neural pathway and we will immediately think, "Oh, why is it sunny now? We can`t even do anything now during lockdown except for taking a walk, which would be crowded anyway, so it wouldn`t be even safe. What will the sun do to my skin? The sun is too bright to even go for a run. I am annoyed by the sun, ..." As you can see, these thoughts may not represent fear per se, but if you think of what fear does with us, it wants to protect us. And how does fear protect us? By judging other circumstances, things, people, even ourselves - to keep us where we are. So with these thoughts around the sunny weather, we will likely stay home safely, and do nothing, staying in our comfort zone.
However, if we are aware of this automatic reaction of our mind and want to build a new neural pathway, or highway, for our thoughts to go through, we need to practice mindfulness first, to break the cycle of our automatic thoughts and reactions. So every time you notice when your thoughts are wandering, or when you connect with your sensations in your body or your breath, the only thing you can really do only in this very moment, you are building your muscle in breaking your automatic pattern and fight-flight-freeze response mechanism. The outcome of building your mindfulness muscle will be a more empowered position to take decisions - on your thoughts, actions, and so basically life.
If we go back to our past example of the sunny weather - if we use our mindfulness and awareness muscles, we may think upon seeing the sun something like this: "Oh, wow, the sun is shining. How warm it feels on my skin. It is indeed very bright, but probably because the last weeks, it was rainy and snowy. Maybe I can explore how it will be to sit outside on our terrace to read and do my to-do list today. I am grateful for the sun, that brings warmth and brightness to our day." As you can see, there are so many thoughts and views we can decide to adopt, that will have a tremendous impact on the quality of our lives.
If you believe this all sounds too complicated or you wonder whether your mindfulness muscles are trained enough to make this shift, try this - Just ask yourself ONE question from time to time: "Is this thought helpful?"I love this one powerful question, because it can help to trick the rational mind. You may find out that often this thought is not helpful, often dragging you down and triggering other worrisome thoughts. So even if you cannot make the shift from negative to positive yet, if you can already break the negative cycle to come to a less negative position, this is already a huge shift and achievement. So explore, try it out, "master your mind", "be more in the present moment", and "meditate" ;-)
Love, from me to you,
What is your most used neural pathway? Let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my #mindfulmagic Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts, free offers, and news :)