The Fighting Mind
This post is about to get super personal, but I feel it’s important to dive into how our minds work. Quieting the thoughts, and aligning them with our spirit (or our “true self”) is one of the main purposes for practicing yoga and meditation. Underneath all of the hullabaloo, our intuitions (which is really the language of our soul) are consistently trying to get our attention, but we don’t listen, and I think that’s an ingrained part of the human condition. We tend to ignore our intuitions, but give major heed to our mind. We listen to the mind even when we know our intuition knows what’s best; a lot of times, I think this is the reason for most of the issues we’re currently having not only in this country, but on this entire planet.
I’m not sure what happened, but lately, I have really been feeling a major split between my mind and my spirit. When I listen to my spirit, I feel at peace. I feel as though I’m living my purpose and living presently. I feel happy, aligned, and like I’m doing what I was put here to do. For me, my thoughts are a different story. I have a very negative narrative that replays over and over again until I have no choice but to succumb (which usually has me spiraling into a depression rather quickly). My mind likes to tell me that I am pathetic. That I will be alone forever and that I’m unloveable. It likes to remind me that I’m fat and ugly and I’ll never have the things I want in life unless I lose weight, change my personality, and live life as a “normal” person. Now, I know not everyone has thoughts that are this harsh, and some have thoughts that are much worse, but I think somewhere along the way, many of us have picked up some negative notions about ourselves that have been adapted into our daily lives. And it always seems to be the negativity that comes to the forefront. We start to live out our thoughts. Also, notice how I referred to the mind as its own entity. Because it is! Just because these thoughts might be arising in our brain doesn’t really mean that they define us.
The mind is conditional. It helps us to rationalize what we see going on around us. It’s very literal. It takes our experiences and translates them so that we may make sense of them and interpret them. The thoughts we have will never go away completely. I think this is important to note because this is a common misconception about the goal of meditation. Conscious thought is what makes us human and we should embrace the fact that we have it. However, where we go wrong as humans is that we trust our thoughts as the ultimate truth. Growing up we learn about ourselves through the perspectives of other people. We listen to the way our parents speak to us and treat us, we listen to the way we are received by the other kids on the playground, etc. And therein lies the problem. Experiences and reactions from other people are responsible for forming our psyche. We start to think that if other people see those traits in us, then they must be real.
The other problem with our thoughts is that they take us away from the present moment. How easy is it to drift off into a daydream? You start thinking about what to have for dinner and an hour later, you’re thinking about how nice it would be to travel to India some day. There is absolutely no problem with daydreaming, but when we start to do it often, we miss what’s going on right in front of us. We become shells of ourselves, in a sense, because we’re not living, we’re not experiencing, we’re not doing. We’re stuck in a place of what if’s and what could have beens. And these places aren’t real. The past has already come and gone. It’s a memory. The future isn’t here yet, and we couldn’t control it, even if it were.
It’s an exhausting battle to fight against yourself, but if we want to find any semblance of peace in this life, we must. We have to remember that our thoughts are merely impulses, just like our emotions. They arise and they disappear, and that’s it. They are not the hardened truth, they are merely our interpretations of our experience. They are not interpretations of reality, because everyone’s reality is different based on their OWN experiences. Make sense? In other words, our thoughts about ourselves are merely opinions that have been reflected back to us over time. And any opinion can be changed, but it takes work. That is why wellness is so important. On a surface level, it helps to see that we’re worth the effort of being cared for, loved, and cherished. But deeper down, it helps to quiet the noise, to bring our thoughts into harmony with our intuitions, to live from an authentic place where we’re trusting ourselves and making the best decisions we can.
So, the next time you feel some type of way about yourself, just give yourself a little hug. We are all doing the best we can in this life. There is no right or wrong way to live. There is no right or wrong body type or job or eating method, or anything, really. We are all individuals, so the most important tidbit I can leave you with today is you do you (as long as doing you does not bring harm to others!). Stop the fight against your own brain, accept yourself in all your wonderful glory, and let peace find you.