In a previous article entitled ‘The Role of Character Development in Physical-Mental-Spiritual Wellbeing’, we took a look at the importance of character development and how we have to put off instant gratification and even be willing to endure some discomfort, if we want to progress in life. In a nutshell, we can say that animals live for instant gratification, whereas civilized man (‘man’ indicating humans, as in men and women) lives for higher values. The more civilized the man or woman, the more they are willing to put of pleasure, for today, in order to get more pleasure and less pain, at a future point in time. Also in this article we noted that we have to look after our mind, and that society presumes mental wellbeing, efficiency and happiness, while not making any provision for its development. In this article, mind your mind, we shall look at the topic of mind and how we should mind our minds, and not presume that our mind will function properly simply by chance!
Our first consideration, when we think about minding our mind is mental hygiene.
So what is mental hygiene?
Mental hygiene is the process, whereby we maintain a clean mind, both by not letting dirt into our mind, in the first place, and also cleansing our mind of any dirt, which has already gotten in there.
So firstly, how do we prevent dirt from entering into our mind?
Well mental dirt is not like physical dirt. We are not talking about dirt under your fingernails here! Rather, we have to understand what constitutes a clean versus an unclean mental mindscape.
If we take the concept that ‘man is the measure of all things’ to be a true indicator of man’s potential, then it indicates that all the potentialities of nature are to be found within the human being. This suggests that we have an infinite potential, which chimes in with the concept that man is made in the image of God. Not that we look physically like God, but rather that the same traits and elements are to be found within the human psyche.
Now this might sound like an unusual concept, but it’s actually a popular concept, which dates back thousands of years. It’s difficult, in this secular era, to talk or write about such broad concepts as most people, these days, are too enwrapped in the technological and scientific biases of this present age. A couple of hundred years ago no scientist could do any work, without mentioning God, and today no scientist can do any work, while mentioning God!
Anyway, what I am proposing here is an ancient philosophical concept, whereby the ancient dictum from Hermes Trigmegistus applies, which says “as above so below” which indicates that what is in heaven (above) is also on earth (below). Now this indicates that man has the potential to be heavenly, thus the earth can become a new heaven, which really means that every person can become a divine person!
So what has this got to do with minding your mind?
Well if it is true that there is an absolute reality and that this absolute reality (God) manifests itself in this temporal universe, and that man most perfectly embodies this divine manifestation; then it stands to reason that the closer we become to our divine nature, that the closer we come to being and feeling happy and integrated. This is the case because God represents complete integration, whereas the opposite of integration is disintegration or chaos.
Ok, I know it’s a lot to take in, but think of it this way, if this principle holds true, then the more we align ourselves with God’s will, the more we will be happy and integrated. Hence, the more we align our minds in accordance with God, the better our mind will function and the happier we will be!
You may or may not agree with me, on principle, but just try out this exercise and you will note, that as you practice it, that your mind will become more grounded and you will feel happier.
So why are we unhappy and ineffective?
We are unhappy and ineffective, because there is chaos where there should be integration. The more we integrate ourselves, the happier we become and the more efficient and effective our mind become, in the process!
So if we want to mind our minds, then the first set is to prevent mental pollution. How do we do this?
We have to realize that the human mind is like a computer and just like a computer, a computer is only as good as its programming, and so too is the case with our own minds. So, think of it this way, the input devices for this computer (our mind) are six fold, being our five senses and our own thinking processes. Now on top of this we are taking in these inputs 24 hours a day. But in particular, we (our ego) are in control during waking hours. So during our waking hours, all of our senses and our thinking, in general, are inputs. So we should be careful about what we are inputting into our minds.
On a physical level things like loud music, external pollution and even bad company (hanging out with negatively acting people) all act as negative inputs.
Meanwhile on a mind level, the books we read, the TV programs and movies which we watch, the conversations which we partake in and the thoughts which we freely spend our time on, all can be considered as possible sources of mental pollution.
So we have to make a point of being careful, who we hang around with and what inputs we accept. Also, we have to look to our environment. For many people, they are living in areas which are not in accord with their inner aspirations, which can be quite stressful.
Now this does not mean that we have to live like monks in ivory towers, but what it does mean is that if you are not strong enough to handle negative, psychically poisonous people and physical locations, jobs etc., then it is better for you to find a better alternative. An example of this would be say a person, who has a gentle nature, and who works perhaps in a very stressful office environment, where there is a lot of back biting and so on. For this person, such an environment might be very distressing and maybe if so they should consider moving to a new job. Another example could be a person, who says they work in a customer facing role and they are shy and sensitive in nature. In their case, maybe they should look for a role which is non-customer facing, which might even mean a change in career, because they can’t handle the stress of dealing with awkward customers. Finally, we might have an example of a person who works in a very stressful job and yet who can switch off and think of something more inspiring, the sort of person who lets the stress roll of them; well in this case this person can continue in this job, as long as they can still remain positive and upbeat.
For many people, they should consider changing job or even city or country, where they live, whilst for others, who are perhaps either less sensitive or just tougher personalities, its fine to remain in even the most stressing of life situations. It will all depend upon personality, but the key thing here is to make sure that your job, family, friends and environment do not get you down!
Secondly we have inputs like books, movies etc. and the conversations which we engage in and the internal dialogue, which we engage in, within ourselves.
There is absolutely no point in having conversations, which make us feel bad and in thinking or talking within our own minds in a negative and downbeat manner. Your inner condition is the most precious thing in your life, because if you do not feel good about yourself, then how on earth are you going to be happy as a person?
Also, more than likely such negative thinking will get you into an ineffective mental state. As the old saying goes “God helps those who help themselves”, suggests we have to be open to opportunities. If our thinking, and feeling, is negative then we are only inviting negativity and limitation into our lives!
Ok so we should be consciously aware about our environment and make an effort to think and feel more positive, but what about mental pollution, which is already lodged inside our brain banks as it where?
Cleaning already existing mental pollution requires two techniques, which are:
A). Cleaning off Impressions: Visualize that all disturbing impressions are leaving the body. That light is entering into the front of the body and that a dull gray vapor is living the back of the body and with it too all of the complexities, painful feelings, negative thoughts etc. are also leaving. For more detail on mental cleaning, take a look at this article here.
B). Build up a reservoir of positive thoughts, believes and feelings: To do this requires the daily practice of good mind-feed, whereby we get into the habit of boosting our minds with positive books, videos, films, conversations etc. This is a difficult process, because most people and TV programs etc. on this planet are basically negative in nature, but it can be done. The key to remember here, is that the reason why most people are stressed and unhappy is because their minds are loaded down with negative thoughts and feelings, and that these negative thoughts and feelings are constantly been topped back up, by such things as the media, popular TV and movies, newspapers, the radio etc. So to counter this we have to make a concerted effort to put positive uplifting thoughts, ideas, feelings and beliefs into our minds.
How to Fill Up Our Minds with Positive Thoughts, Beliefs, Feelings and Ideas
Okay let’s take a look at each one of these in turn:
Thoughts: The first thing which we have to focus on, when training minds, is thoughts. From thoughts come beliefs and from beliefs come feelings. So we get positive thoughts, by making a point of switching off all negative TV programs; either avoid negative conversations or at least avoid becoming emotionally involved in them and also we should be doing the exact opposite, whereby we watch positive TV programs, movies, reading good books, having good conversations etc.
When you try to do this at first, you will suddenly be overwhelmed, by the difficulty, here in avoiding negativity and finding something positive to read or watch. You can take this as a form of education, because unless you try to do something like this, you will probably never realize just how much negative, soul destroying inputs are to be found wherever you go!
In particular, I notice for myself, and probably most people do, that first thing in the morning, it is difficult to be upbeat. I think this is because early in the morning, our mental defense systems are on low ebb and consequently our insecurities become more noticeable. But just because you are stressed in the morning but good later on, doesn’t mean that something radical has changed, but rather it means that you are protecting yourself with activities and thoughts, which make you feel better. The key to long-term happiness and wellbeing, is not in feeling good all of the time, but rather in a willingness to sit with the morning negativity (or whenever you tend to feel stressed), and working through those tough thoughts and feelings, towards a more integrated inner state!
Also, the trick to improving thoughts is to put a lot of effort into reading and watching positive information and in maintaining positive conversations. The easiest thing to begin with is reading good books; because it is difficult to find good TV and movies and also it is difficult to find people to have uplifting conversations with. So books are always a great help. Look for good books and develop a stash of really good uplifting books. The funny thing is that once you start reading, it makes impressions on your brain. It is true that something negative will impact your brain negatively, but by the same token if you read a good uplifting book, it will cheer you up. Just try it out, find a good uplifting book and read 5, 10, 15 pages and see how your thinking and feeling is, I can guarantee there will be a shift upwards!
Beliefs: Now the interesting thing is that beliefs rule our lives. While the famous movie ‘The secret’, was flawed, because it focused on the power of belief to the exclusion of hard work, nevertheless it made a good point about the necessity of belief. In the 1960s we had the rise of positive taking and the famous dictum ‘you can if you think you can!’, which in principles is good. However, the makers of the secret movie noted the importance of belief, as been more important than positive thinking. So believe is terrible important, so how do we develop positive beliefs?
i). Find negative beliefs and uproot them, as if they were weeds; for the negative beliefs are the weeds within your mind, which suffocate the flowers of positive beliefs!
The key here is to observe yourself, when you try this process of reducing negative beliefs, for in the process you will become aware of negative thinking patterns and beliefs.
ii). Work on developing positive thoughts, as noted above.
Feelings: So we have the uprooting of negative thoughts and beliefs, followed by the implantation of positive thoughts and beliefs, which in turn will result in positive feelings. A mistake which people tend to make, in life, is they want to change their feelings, but they want to do this in isolation, without changing their thinking patterns and beliefs.
No matter how hard you try to change your feelings, they cannot change without changing beliefs, and beliefs will not change without changing thinking patterns. So rather than trying to make yourself happy, you should work on taking changing your thoughts and beliefs, and happiness will follow. Feelings are actually psychic balance indicators, so they tell us how we well we are integrating our life experience, with our inner world. So instead of panicking when our feelings are not good, we should analyze them, the same way we would analyze the dipstick, in our car, or the pop up box on our computers screen. Take the feedback, from our feelings, and then work at understanding our thoughts and beliefs; work on integration, while eradicating wasteful thoughts and beliefs, and replacing them with better ones. Don’t worry about your feelings, as you align yourself they shall improve over time!
Ideas: As for ideas, new exciting mind broadening ideas will occur, as you open up your mind to new possibilities, as a consequence of changing your thinking and your beliefs and to some degree feelings. Also as you think better and belief better and feel better, it creates a feedback loop, which results in more positive thinking, beliefs and positive feelings. This process of developing positive thinking, beliefs, feelings and ideas is difficult at first, because of a lack of inertia. However, this will change as the positive thoughts, beliefs and feelings will result in changes in your life, which in turn will result in new ideas and better outcomes in your life affairs, which in turn will naturally boost your thoughts, beliefs, feelings and ideas!
Final Thoughts on Minding your Mind
Minding your mind is a vast topic, because your mind is such a vast frontier. The emphasis of this article, minding your mind, is to focus on two areas:
A). We are made in the image of God, and consequently life is not as sporadic and meaningless as it may at first appear. There is a plan, and the closer we come to the plan, the more balanced our minds become and the more integrated we also become. So there is an objective yardstick, by which we can focus upon and this is not a chaotic universe, we do have a goal to refer to and we can balance our minds.
The natural state of the mind is balanced; we have become unbalanced!
It’s like a good physical health, the natural state is healthy and if we don’t have health we have ill-health. We all know the word disease, but think again this disease is dis-ease, or lack of ease, lack of health, as health is our natural state!
God is not in a state of mental turmoil, nor should we be; while life is challenging we can work towards becoming more grounded, happier and more integrated. It might not be easy and no one can guarantee 100% positive results, but we can aim for a state of mental balance. So philosophically speaking we have to realize that mental balance is possible, only then can we achieve mental balance.
B). While the first section of this article might be a little difficult to follow, if you’ve not heard it before, it might be a little difficult to understand, however, the the second part of the article should be more obvious. In essence getting rid of negative thoughts and beliefs, as if they were weeds in your garden, replacing them with positive thought and beliefs, which in turn will produce positive feelings and ideas. Rinse and repeat
Back in the article, on the role of character development, I noted the importance of taking time out to work on your mind, and that this is a necessary aspect of character development. The problem with society, when it comes to character development, is in the way in which it presupposes that everyone will become a happy, well integrated individual, almost by accident.
This is silly thinking!
While it is true to say that you might become a good person and a helpful member of society, simply by imbibing these traits unconsciously from the environment, definitely you will not become the optimum version of yourself, simply by living in the shadow of some other person or people!
Rather, you have to work on yourself. While you are a great person, it is also true to say that you can become a better person, and happier and more productive person. But the only way to do this is by taking responsibility for your own inner psychic workings.
Also, no matter how much someone else loves you and respects you, ultimately they cannot live in your shoes. So the only way in which you can guarantee your own mental clarity, peace of mind and happiness, is to own your own mind. To come to terms with yourself, both the good and the bad and to learn how to work through mental and emotional issues, as they crop up.
This article has given you some useful techniques to help with this process. But the big picture is actually simpler than you may think.
Mind your mind!
It is not someone else’s responsibility to look after your mental wellbeing. You are experiencing your life, so you are the best educated person, in your life, to take things in hand and make sure that positive thoughts, beliefs and feelings are coming about, and this can only take place via self-responsibility, self-observation and a willingness, to work through issues as they come along.
Mind your mind, it is your greatest asset, as all of your conscious awareness, is filtered through the screen of your consciousness.
Mind your mind and it will mind you!