Living Begins & Ends with Our Mind

The Buddha: “Learn to Be Friends with “Your Mind”

STEP 1:  LISTEN AND ACKNOWLEDGE

 Like all good Human beings, you are going to have to learn to listen to your Mind.

Minds, like people, can relax and let go when they feel heard and understood.  Practice gratitude and thank your mind for its contribution. “Thank you, mind, for reminding me the differences between: “Fulfilment & Success: Aspiration & Ambition: between Contentment & Greed: that Health is my Wealth: Togetherness with family and friends my cherished treasure ”

“Thank you for telling me that I may always be alone and never find love and have a family.”  “These are important areas of life, and I need to pay attention to them, and do my best to take advantage of every opportunity that comes up. I also need to learn from past experiences, so I don’t keep making the same mistakes.”

STEP 2: MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR MIND

 You may not like what your mind does or the way it conducts itself. In fact, all that negativity can be downright irritating sometimes. But the fact is, you are stuck with it and you cannot (or would not want to) just lobotomize it away. In the Book, The Happiness Trap, Dr Russ Harris uses the example of the Israelis and the Palestinians to illustrate your relationship with your mind’s negative thoughts. These two old enemies may not like each other’s way of life, but they are stuck with each other. If they wage war on each other, the other side retaliates, and more people get hurt and buildings destroyed. Now they have a whole lot less energy to focus on building the health and happiness of their societies. Just as living in peace would allow these nations to build healthier and more prosperous societies, so making peace with your mind – accepting that negative thoughts and feelings will be there  -that you can’t control them, can allow you to focus on your actions in the present moment, so you can move ahead with your most important goals without getting all fouled up. You don’t necessarily have to like the thoughts or agree with them  – you just have to let them be there in the background of your mind, while you go out and get things done.

STEP 3: REALIZE YOUR THOUGHTS ARE JUST THOUGHTS

 Most of the time we do not “see” our minds. They just feel like part of us!  Dr Steve Hayes, the founder of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, uses the concept of being “Fused with your thoughts” to illustrate this relationship. To be fused means to be stuck together, undifferentiated. You feel like your thoughts and feelings are YOU and so you accept them unconditionally as the truth without really looking at them. “I’m thinking I’m a failure and boring – gee, I must be a failure and boring. Well. Isn’t that nice? Now I feel really wonderful.”  This kind of simplistic logic seems to prevail because we cannot see our own minds, so we have difficulty stepping outside ourselves and getting an objective observer’s perspective.

In actuality, our thoughts are passing, mental events, influenced by our moods, states of hunger or tiredness, physical health, hormones, sex, the weather, what we watched on TV last night, what we ate for dinner, what we learned as kids, and so on. They are like mental habits. And, like any habits, they can be healthy or unhealthy, but they take time to change. Just like a lazy person cannot get up and run a marathon right away, we cannot magically turn off our spinning negative thought/feeling cycles without repeated practice and considerable effort. And even then, our overactive amygdala’s will still send us the negative stuff sometimes.

 STEP 4: OBSERVE YOUR OWN MIND

 The saying “Know thine enemy.” is also applicable to our relationship with our own minds. Just like a good leader spends his time walking through the offices, getting to know the employees, so we need to devote time to getting to know how our minds workday today.  Call it mindfulness, meditation, or quiet time. Time spent observing your mind is as important as time spent exercising. When you try to focus your mind on the in and out rhythm of your breath, or on the trees and flowers when you walk in nature, what does your mind do? If it is like mine, it wanders all over the place – mostly bringing up old worries or unsolved problems from the day. And, if left unchecked, it can take you out of the peacefulness of the present moment, and into a spiral of worry, fear, and judgment.

Mindfulness involves not only noticing where your mind goes when it wanders, but also gently bringing it back to the focus on breath, eating, walking, loving, or working. When you do this repeatedly over months or years, you begin to retrain your runaway amygdala. Like a good CEO, you begin to know when your mind is checked out or spinning its wheels, and you can gently guide it to get back with the program. When it tries to take off on its own, you can gently remind it that this is an interdependent and essential part of the whole enterprise of  ‘Your SELF’STEP 5: RETRAIN YOUR MIND TO REWIRE YOUR BRAIN

 There is an old and rather wise saying, “We are what we repeatedly do.”  To this, I would add “We become what we repeatedly think.”  Over long periods, our patterns of thinking become etched into the billions of neurons in our brains, connecting them together in unique, entrenched patterns. When certain brain pathways – connections between different components or ideas – are frequently repeated, the neurons begin to “fire” or transmit information together in a rapid, interconnected sequence. Once the first thought starts, the whole sequence gets activated.

Theories of Emotion

Daniel Coleman’s categories for theory of Emotions shown below in effect advocate a KISS philosophy.

Keeping it Simple, Straight, and practicing mindfulness in matters/things under our control and detached over matters/things out of our control.

This way we can keep thoughts/things that help us improve and let go ‘Off’ Thoughts/ Things which drag us into negativity and helplessness

Theories of Emotion – Daniel Coleman

Autopilot is great for driving a car, but no so great for emotional functioning. For example, you may have deep-seated fears of getting close to people because you were mistreated as a child. To learn to love, you need to become aware of the whole negative sequence and how it’s biasing your perceptions, label these reactions as belonging to the past, and refocus your mind on present-moment experience. Over time, you can begin to change the wiring of your brain so your prefrontal cortex (the executive center, responsible for setting goals, planning and executing them), is more able to influence and shut off your rapidly firing, fear-based amygdala (emotion control center). And this is exactly what brain imaging studies on effects of mindfulness therapy have shown.

 STEP 6:  PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION

 The pioneer of Self-Compassion research, Dr Kristin Neff, described this concept as “A healthier way of relating to yourself.”  And that is exactly what it is. While we cannot easily change the gut-level feelings and reactions that our minds and bodies produce, we can change how we respond to these feelings. Most of us were taught that vulnerable feelings, are signs of weakness – to be hidden from others at all costs. Or “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie.”  These bits of common-sense philosophy were dead wrong! Authors, such as Dr. Brene Brown, provide us with a convincing, research-based argument that expressing your vulnerability can be a source of strength and confidence, if properly managed.

When we judge our feelings –we lose touch with the benefits of those feelings. They are valuable sources of information about our reactions to events in our lives, and they can tell us what is most meaningful and important to us. Emotions are signals telling us to reach out to for comfort or to take time out to rest and replenish ourselves. Rather than criticizing ourselves, we can learn new ways of supporting ourselves in our suffering. We may deliberately seek out inner and outer experiences that bring us joy or comfort – memories of happy times with people we love, the beauty of nature, creative self-expression. Connecting with these resources can help us navigate the difficult feelings while staying grounded in the present.

SUMMARY

 To understand our own mind, we need to make friends with it.  

Get to know and acknowledge its contribution, realize its nature, make peace with it.

Treat it kindly. It would repay us with a lifetime of loyalty and service to the values and goals that we most cherish.

Humour

Learning to laugh at ourselves is a catalytic converter to be friends with our Brain

Closure

What our Brain is

Let us consider our: brain to be the mother board and the Mind the internet.

The protocol drivers are our Thoughts, Feelings, Behavior, Actions and Attitude.

These define our leadership Persona: The Way we dress, speak. Our Body language, our poise and bearing, Interpersonal relationships and our response to emergent, happy situations.

In sum and substance our ” Attitude’ is borne out of our response to circumstances. Epictectus the slave turned Philosopher succinctly sums it up

Curtain Call

Our Life is finite with opportunities infinite. Human living is just about 28000 days with golden years of living for about 20000 days. There are many examples of human creativity that are proof to Human *Touch & Reach* in Creativity. (Let us Get over human cruelty for an instance! that is the doing of an evil mind)

To be born as a human and blessed with wellness of “Mind” warrants humans to nurture goodness of Heart . This needs constant nourishing of our Mind.

Living Begins & Ends with our Mind and how well we understand it.

Guide lines gleaned above from the Web, are valuable learnings to all human beings in gathering wisdom through steps shown in the tree of living.

These to the author’s mind are above and beyond the mortal aspects of Life’s “Ups & Downs”

Tree of living Life in Fitness Equity

God Bless ‘Us and Our Mind’

Foot note (Important)

These notes are collected from various sources including some from the author’s own experience of four decades in the Indian Navy

Jai Hind

God Bless

Barry Bharathan

Always await your critique on blog or on mail: rinavenkat@gmail.com

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