In my previous post I wrote about how our minds are similar to children. Once we have understood and accepted this, it becomes easier to learn and understand how to take care of your mind. Most of us lead our lives believing that we cannot really take control of our minds. A man who has gained control over his mind is far more powerful than someone who thinks he has control over other people. Think about it. How many times in your life have you regretted saying or doing something and you ended up saying that you wished you did not say or do it.
Controlling our mind does not mean you are struggling and fighting with it. It simply means you pay attention to it and choose your thoughts. Our minds have been conditioned over many years into developing our beliefs which manifest themselves in terms of our words and actions. Our minds are pretty much like the hard disk of a computer. The more you keep putting information into it, it gets cluttered and starts to slow down. Periodically we try and “defragment” our hard disk. When it comes to our mind we defragment by taking “time-offs”. We go on a holiday or a retreat or some kind of distraction to rejuvenate ourselves. However our mind very soon starts getting cluttered again and we repeat the same exercise again in the belief that we are “recharging” ourselves. The fact is that what we need is not a “defragmentation” but a complete format and fresh loading of the operating system. I have found that by following the steps below you can start your defragmentation process and start seeing amazing results over a period of time.
1. Become Aware
The first thing that we need to do is to become aware that we have a mind (not your brain!). Being aware is beyond just knowing that we have a mind. Being aware is being conscious of the fact that there is a mind within us which keeps talking to us. It is similar to having an eye or an ear on something you want to monitor. A good example of this is that of a mother who has a young baby at home. The mother will go around doing her daily chores but at the same time is very conscious and aware of her child’s presence. This is why you see that mothers can hear their children cry even when there is a lot of noise around. This is the level of awareness that we have to develop with our minds. We must be able to listen and hear our minds and be able to attend to it when required.
Just like a child, your mind will start getting irritated, angry or hurt. Become aware of this and as soon as you see this, withdraw from your activity and heal the mind as you would heal a child. Talk to it and change the quality of the thoughts.
2. Feed the Right Information
Children don’t learn what we say but what we do. This is a reality which every parent (including myself) tends to forget. I have seen my sons do things which I showed them and have struggled to get them to do things which I have tried to teach them verbally. Our minds are similar and whatever you show it or feed it with will be what comes out of it in the form of thoughts. There are 3 things which influence out thoughts
- Past Experiences
- Belief Systems
Just like you would make sure that your child was exposed to the right television programs, the right friends and the right books, we also need to take care of our minds and ensure we feed the right information. Take a moment to reflect the kind of information you are feeding your mind. Most of us have developed into a habit of reading the newspaper or watching the news early in the morning. Most of the news today is around all the sorrow in the world or the evil acts of people. Even during the day we spend time gossiping about how our lives have become miserable and how we are coping with life. What do you think this does to the quality of our thoughts?
Become aware of the information you feed your mind with. Spend the first and the last 15 minutes of your day especially to feed your mind with positive messages, affirmations and motivating and inspiring information. Read something positive or listen to motivational messages or watch something which relaxes you and inspires you.
Talk to your mind as you would talk to your child. Very often we try and shut up children when they constantly ask us questions and reasons on why we have certain rules. Most of the times we end up saying things like “Because I say so” or ‘That’s the rule of the house”. What I have learned over the past year is that if you spend time explaining to children the reasons, they are more receptive to change. Similarly talk to your mind every day and discuss what’s going on inside you and how you can work together to resolve the situation and face the challenges. In the beginning this may seem funny and crazy, but trust me that it works and you will start noticing that your mind actually starts answering you back. The best time to talk to your mind is when you are quite and by yourself and cannot be disturbed. This is best achieved when you are sitting in meditation. This is the time for you and your mind to be talking to each other and prepare for the day ahead.
We need love and no matter what the situation we find it extremely difficult to not listen to someone who shows us love. Why do we think children are any different? I’m against spanking children to discipline them. A lot of parents argue that they beat their children because they love them and want the best for them. When you beat your child, all that you do to a child is to develop a fear in them.
We need to show love when dealing with our mind. Very often we end up getting frustrated on why we think in a certain way or why we have certain behaviors. Some people even go to the extent of torturing themselves as a way of punishment. Just like a child would develop fear, the mind too will start reinforcing your beliefs about yourself when you keep punishing yourself. Instead we need to first become aware of things which we want to change, acknowledge it, accept it and then move towards taking action to changing it.
Ask any parent how frustrating it is to get their child to start or end a new behavior pattern. Change does not come quickly and sometimes it takes days, months or even years to bring about a change. It really depends on how deep the habit is. One thing that is critical in the process is that of repetition. For example if you want to get your children to take their dish for washing after they are done with their meal, you will need to remind them for a few days or weeks before they remember to do it automatically.
Our minds are no different. Over the years we have been repeating things to it which have now developed into habits, perceptions and belief systems. We never paid attention to this and through our parents, teachers, friends and media; we were fed with the same information over and over again. The difference now is that we will consciously choose the kind of information which gets repeated. So instead of watching the news in the morning, we will watch something which motivates us. Instead of saying that we “cant” do something, we will keep repeating that we “can” do it. This is beyond just plain “positive thinking” or “affirmations”. It has far deeper impact on our core thinking process. While we cannot directly uproot the negative thoughts from our mind, what we can do is to keep feeding positive messages. Over time these messages will overpower the negative thoughts much like dirty water in a jar would spill out when you keep pouring clean water.
6. Give it Time
Give your mind time just like you would spend time with your child. Just like sometimes children need time to change or drop bad habits, our minds too need time to change our old belief systems and behaviors. . Your mind is not a machine (Your Brain is!) which you can just switch on or off when you want to. So don’t try to fight it. When you are trying to change your mind to think differently, it takes time. When the change happens, it happens permanently (till the next time you CHOOSE to change it)
A common question which comes to us is that if our minds are creating thoughts, then how we can use our mind to create thoughts which are different to what is already in there. It’s a very valid question and while I don’t have an answer to this, what I do know is that when we consciously feed ourselves with the right information, the mind starts creating thoughts accordingly. The mind is very intriguing and although there have been thousands of books written about it, we are still far away from discovering what it is capable of. But even with the little we know now, it is powerful enough to help us bring about the changes we need in our life.
Question : Do you believe you can control your mind? Leave your comments below