Poorly-directed thoughts and feelings can clog your brain. In extreme cases, cyclic and persistent negative thinking can cause mental illness and depression.
1. Don’t judge
Your mind is bombarded with 5 million sense data per second - and that’s just what science knows about so far. However, your conscious mind can only be aware of 7 sense data at a time. Of course there is variance between people, but the conclusion is clear: we filter what we observe on a monumental scale.
Our conscious judgement of reality causes us to ignore millions upon millions of sounds, sights, smells, and other sensations each moment of every day. Do not make meaning of that which you see with your senses. Observe what is, without judgement.
2. Even when it’s personal, it’s not personal
Every one - every single one of us - owns a mental map of reality which we use to navigate the topography of our world. We can’t possibly know everything there is to know so we make short cuts, we assemble in our minds an idea of how things ‘are’. Each of us uses this set of beliefs as a lens to perceive and filter what we observe (see above).
And to make matters worse, every angry voice, every soul sucking memory gets replayed and relived in our imaginations each day, quite literally causing us to experience these dreadful moments in our minds over and over again.
So the next time you are being attacked, maligned, aggressed upon - remember: this poor soul is not really responding to you, the glorious infinite being that you are. Your transgressor is responding to their mental image of you - which is not you. So don’t take it personally, ok? Shine on you crazy diamond you!
3. Come back to yourself
There is a way of being in the world which is infinitely preferable to being tense, collapsed, stressed-out, and unaware. Take a moment to pause - wherever you are and even in this present moment as you are reading these words - to consider that how you feel and what you think has a profound affect on how you ‘are’ in your body.
And as you do this - as you stop to ‘look around’, think of relaxing the tension in your neck so that your head will gently release in a direction best described as ‘forward and up’ - which is to say, releasing away from the shoulders. Do this now - do this later - do this often.
4. Cultivate a sense of ‘no mind’
So you are observing without judging. You are not taking things personally - even when they seem personal. And you are beginning the mental projections that will help you undo the startle pattern of tension (step 3 above). While you are in this state observe your breath - allow it to happen, in fact. Observe the sensations of the present moment, again without making meaning of them. Moreover, don’t make meaning of even your thoughts.
Let your thoughts come and go as they please without leaving footprints in your mind. As you get better at this, see if you can have no thoughts at all. This is called ‘flow’ - and yes it can be learned.
5. Let go of what you fear to lose
Fear is the mind killer. If you are half the sci-fi nerd I am, you’ll pick up on at least two movie references in this bullet point. But the truth and impact of these maxims are without question: do not let fear govern your thinking for it will limit the way you manifest your intentions with your body. This is also the essence of Yoga when it is taught well.
6. Give up trying to attain your goals directly
You can achieve your goals obliquely. Push too hard and there will be too high a price to pay for attaining what you desire. Anger, disappointment, stress, and fear-of-loss will severely limit the enjoyment of whatever you achieve (see step 5 above). Pain will harass the stiff and inflexible body of the over-achiever. Ever heard of the unhappy and lonely millionaire? Or the suicidal movie actress? Unfortunately we all have.
Achieve your goals indirectly by following the steps in this guide. Your path will reveal itself when you are balanced in mind and in body. Health, wellness, and youthfulness of mind should be your first goal. Let your talents carry you the rest of the way.
Stay fit, and be well!