How to Control Your Mind and Thoughts
Want to change your inner world? Better control your mind, as well as your thoughts? Here's the only way possible.
BY: Dr. Steve McSwain
1. Meditate daily. If you're one of those persons who quickly excuses yourself as having tried meditation and discovering it does not work for you, that's the first thought you need to change. Why? Because it isn't so. So much of our thinking is just that - wrong. Deceitful. And, the most deceived person is one-and-the-same deceiver. You CAN learn to meditate and you must, if you wish to learn to control your thoughts and your thinking.
Books on meditation are as abundant today as cookbooks. I would recommend The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, written by Thich Nhat Hanh.
2. Observe your thoughts. Don't judge them, observe them. How many times has a thought popped into your mind - let's say some kind of judgmental thought about a colleague at work and, instantly, you jump into judgment mode, finding fault with yourself for even thinking something negative about someone else.
I would suggest an alternative solution to unwanted thoughts. Instead of quickly dismissing them and then judging yourself harshly for having such thoughts, start from the premise that thoughts are neither right nor wrong. They just are. It's what you do with your thoughts that introduce the "rightness" or "wrongness" of them. In other words, in the purported words of Martin Luther, "You cannot keep a bird from flying over your head; what you can do is prevent it from building a nest in your hair."
How? By observing your thoughts. In the east, this is called acting as the "witnessing presence." Like witnessing an accident and then reporting on it to the authorities. Be the observer of your own thoughts, even the ones that frighten you.
3. Cultivate the space between thoughts. In other words, as you train yourself to be the observer of your mind...you thoughts, you are actually cultivating what easterners call "the primary consciousness" that underlies all thinking. It is that "space between the notes," said Claude Debussy "that makes the music." If there were no spaces between the notes on a sheet of music, the sounds you would hear would not only be unintelligible but meaningless, even annoying.
This space is the place of internal peace. It is what some call "pure consciousness."
The idea of emptying your mind of thought is terrifying to many people.
Why? Because they mistakenly think they ARE their thoughts. This is the core error in our shared human experience. You are NOT your thoughts. You're not even the observer of your thoughts, although that is much closer to who you really are.
Why is this all so important? Because this is the only way to get control of your thoughts. And, if you wish to be happy, and who among us does not wish for this, you must learn to manage the mind. Otherwise, it will menace you like the constant dripping of a leaky faucet.
The problem in our western world is not that we do not know how to think. As enumerated so eloquently by the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle in A New Earth, "the problem most people have is not thinking; it is not knowing how to stop thinking."
Make this your spiritual practice for to do so is to pursue...
Dr. Steve McSwain is an author, speaker, thought leader and spiritual teacher. His books and blogs inspire spiritual seekers around the world. He is a devoted follower of Christ but an interfaith activist as well. He is frequently heard to say, in the words of Mother Teresa, "I love all religions; but I'm IN LOVE with my own." Read more from Dr. McSwain on his blog Your Best Life Ever.