I am asking you to please reject any "tradition" that tells you your mind is a dangerous place to be.
I'm begging you to stop believing your mind is the enemy, that your thinking is flawed, or that you "shouldn't go alone into your head," or make decisions on your own.
Here at Destiny Architecture, a more helpful belief is that your mind is what you make it.
Where Do Such Odd, Unhelpful Beliefs Come From?
The easy answer is that flawed thinking comes from flawed spiritual traditions. I can't tell you how many times I sat in a 12-step meeting (I've been sober since 2013) and heard someone beat up on their own thinking.
But we aren't victims of a mind that is unchangeable!
Despite what you've seen on TV (the latest Ted Lasso episode, Sunflowers, makes a point of saying it), you don't need an external source to change your mind.
The more difficult answer is this: our "stinkin' thinkin'" comes from years of habitual conditioning that creates what we call in yoga samskaras.
That's a Sanskrit word, but I see it as no accident that it contains the English word "scar" if you listen to it closely. My personal take is that these are "scars" on our minds. A samskara is a belief, or a groove we've carved in our minds, so it can be a good thing too.
I've been learning about my samskaras for more than two years now and I continue to find new ways to define what this is—a habit, behavioral pattern, unconscious belief, subconscious belief in the driver seat I'm unaware of... I could go on and on. When you excavate one, another always follows! This is the healing work that is never done. It's important to therefore view it as a journey instead of a destination.
It's a healing journey.
It's a spiritual journey.
Notice no one ever says "spiritual destination" or "healing vacation." You will hear the word retreat though! Which, to me, means "going deeper within."
How Does One Sharpen The Mind?
First of all, stop seeing your mind as the enemy. Healing began for me when I began to reject certain 12-step beliefs such as:
- "I am always a step away from a fall!" (Also a Christian belief, which the 12-step program steals from).
- "My mind is a dangerous place to go alone!"
- "First thought wrong!" (This implies all thinking must be run past the all-powerful Sponsor/Group).
- "I can't make decisions without others being involved." (This is what they tell you when you first get sober, and it may be true at that point—but this is not empowering. Once you're a couple of weeks past detox, you need to learn to make decisions on your own and begin to trust yourself again so others may too).
- And so on... There are probably dozens of these. Now that I've laid out a few, I'm sure you can list some of your own.
Second, it's time to go within to find the answers you seek. This is what I help people do as a life coach. No one can tell you "what to do." That's not what people pay me for. I help people rediscover their inner wisdom that society drives them away from—yes, this is often due to spiritual traditions that lower self-esteem.
How to go within?
- Meditation: You find your inner essence, the quiet within, and raise your self-awareness through regular practice.
- Self-care: Use the self-care practices that are available to you that suit where you are on your journey. At any given point, that can be massage, Reiki, acupuncture, personal care, exercise, physical therapy, polarity therapy, talk therapy, etc. There are hundreds of healing modalities out there.
- Spiritual traditions: Prayer, meditation, your spiritual path (which may or may not contain religion). All traditions help us find our place in The Universe.
- Yoga: This is the oldest "technology" for helping us find our way, discover personal empowerment, and build mental/emotional/spiritual stamina.
"Ok, But I Try To Meditate and I Can't Quiet My Mind!"
I hear this a lot. Like, every damn day.
When you start meditating, it's like trying to find a calm glass pond within a choppy sea. After a while, you get better at your practice and you calm those waves. Or, as Patanjali tells us in the very first yoga sutra:
Yoga is the absence of the fluctuations of the mind.
I place meditation in that category, too. But when you first sit down to meditate, you probably twitch, wiggle, and think your way through it. I thought I'd list ALL my initial meditation struggles from 2015 so you can feel less weird. We all go through this!
Here are some of the things my mind noticed that drove me insane in 2015 when I deepened my meditation practice. I wrote them all down just to get them out of my head:
- My mind is all over.
- My oven makes clicking noises.
- I'm chewing on my lips.
- I'm thinking about all the work I have to do.
- I'm remembering old memories.
- I'm thinking of something I saw earlier on social media.
- Tomorrow's plans and to-do list.
- "My gut hurts."
- "I'm tired."
- "I can't focus! My brain is scattershot!"
- I want to do Reiki and breathe and I realize I just want to escape myself. (I was two years sober at this point too!)
- I begin humming the Pixies song, "Where is My Mind?"
- Thinking back on poignant moments from the day.
- I think I hear a party nearby.
- I can't wait to talk to my friend tomorrow.
- Here I am trying to meditate and my cat is crawling on me. (A couple of cats later, and this still happens btw).
- A random memory of working in radio pops in and I am wondering what prompted that memory to pop into my mind.
You get the idea. A mind is a busy place. The goal isn't to become instantly free of thoughts. The goal is only to move toward that with each practice of yoga &/or meditation.
This is why I'm also making it easy to meditate along with my guided audio meditations. They're about 10-15 minutes long and drop right here every Friday. Here's the latest one.