Sunday, November 23, 2008

Leaf Falling and Mind Changing

Last year we missed this leaf-falling event. We were in awe that the tree was continuing to hold onto its leaves while all the other trees had already dropped. But then one evening, we looked out and all the leaves were off. This year I was determined to catch it in the act. Here is the video!

I was awake around 4am this morning, but unwilling to leave the warmth of my comfy bed, the sound of Patrick breathing, or that coziness of lingering. As I lay there, I decided to meditate and I was struck by how it is not necessary to meditate on gratitude. I know that sounds strange coming from me. But what I realized this morning is that if you meditate, if you seek silence, if you can get past all those thoughts that try to invade your space and truly get to the silence and connect with God, Source, Creator, Goddess, whatever you call that ineffable nothing-yet-everythingness, then gratitude will be the result. Appreciation bubbles up from somewhere deep inside. It's an appreciation for nothing in particular and everything at the same time. A gratitude for life, for love, for existence, for being. It's not so much a thought as a feeling and it just washes over one like standing under a waterfall. It's amazing.

Changing Your Mind

I've also been pondering the idea of changing habitual thinking. It really isn't complicated to change your mind. It isn't easy always and it takes some monitoring, but it is possible and there isn't any magic or mathematical calculating about it.

It's as simple as redirecting your thoughts. It isn't saying, "oh I'm going to change the way I think about that," and then you're done. It's seeing a thought coming and recognizing it and then stopping it or changing it into a different thought.

I remember reading a book called, I Will Never Leave You, by Hugh and Gayle Prather. While I don't agree with the general idea I got from the book that you stay with someone even if there's abuse, etc, I did appreciate one of the ideas in the book. It was the idea that there are usually patterns in our thinking. There are thoughts that set us up for failure, for conflict, for disappointment. In one scenario, the wife was washing dishes when her husband came home from work. He asked what she'd been doing and she, if I remember correctly, threw a dish at him and pitched a fit. This was all because she knew he was going to ask that, as he had every day of their marriage and in her mind, it was a sort of accusatory question, more like "so what have you been doing all day?", when for him it was really an innocent, "how was your day," kind of question. She completely set herself up for being angered by the question when she started getting mad just thinking about it before he even got home.

Have you ever been mad because someone said just exactly what you knew they were going to say? I have and I've made others angry by being the one who said what they knew I was going to say.

So, for this woman, she would need to stop herself and to maybe reconsider why her husband asks the question. She could decide that she needn't be defensive about what she did all day and just tell him, or just say that she'd done the same thing as every other day and how was his day. She could defuse the conflict by not allowing the angry thoughts to come before the poor guy had even thought about asking the question.

To be released from addiction requires a change in our habitual way of thinking.

To make that change is as difficult and as simple as observing the thought and then saying, "no, I'm not thinking about that!" and then thinking of something else.

I had a chronic thought a number of years ago. It was almost debilitating. When I finally realized that I was going to have to get over it or it was going to destroy me, I was able to start seeing the thought coming. When it would start to get a hold on me, I would literally shake my head and say, "no, I'm not thinking about that!"

It truly is that simple. The trick is to do it every time. The trick is to do it before the thought takes us to "that" place of sadness or darkness.

Of course, changing our thinking doesn't solve all our problems. It solves only the ones created by our way of thinking. But I bet if we study it for a moment, we'll realize that many of our problems are caused by the way we think.

Drama is almost always triggered by habitual thinking that leads to action or inaction.

We don't need psychologists every time to figure out a new way of living. We don't always need drugs. We don't always need chemicals. We don't always need some fancy mental dancing.

All we need is to see the thought coming and stop it. It's truly that easy. Try it for a day. Try it for an hour. After a while, the thought will just give up. Redirect your mind to something better; something more worthy of you.

It's an amazing gift that we are given that I just don't think we use often enough.

Let me say, it's not the same thing as keeping our "chin up." That implies to me that we smile through the dark thoughts, keep going even when we're blue, etc. No, what I am talking about is stopping the dark thoughts altogether; particularly if they are habitual thoughts that make life unnecessarily more difficult.

Boy, while I was thinking about this it seemed so easy to talk about but as I am typing, it seems harder to convey. The simplicity of it makes it complicated.

I'm just going to trust that you know exactly what I'm saying. Maybe one of you has a better grasp of the language needed to explain what I mean. If you do, please offer it. I think it's so important.

I just came back to add that I'm not talking about instances of grieving and things like that. Some thoughts have to be acknowledged and worked through to come to a healthy acceptance of things.

I'm talking about unhealthy thoughts, like regrets over things you can't re-do or undo, or addictions (you really can help yourself by not allowing cravings to take root in your mind), and things like that.

My love to you all. xoxoxoxox


Anonymous said...

This is a great post and I totally agree. The hardest part is catching yourself before the thought goes too far :-).
You described it just perfect. I saw an old Bob Newhart scene where he is teling one of his patient's to "just stop it!" when she was thinking something she no longer wanted to think. Works for me :-).

Patrick Foley Plummer said...

Oh my gosh! I love that you brought up the Bob Newhart thing. I say that all the time, "just stop it." LOL He made it so clear and I could definitely see myself in her at the time, "yeah, but...." I'm so glad you brought that up. Patrick and I actually were discussing that scene earlier today when I was talking to him about this post. :)

Patrick Foley Plummer said...

Ah, and once again I've posted as Patrick on his google account.