We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. The color-wheel of productive thinking would not be complete without the brilliant yellow sunshine of JOY. Deepak Chopra, MD, has this interesting insight:
There exists within each of us a natural state of simple and open awareness in which we feel happy, light, and at peace. In contrast, the state of suffering or unhappiness is complicated. Complications take many forms, including an imbalanced lifestyle, toxic relationships, hidden emotional debts, resistance, indecision, addictions, and negative conditioned beliefs. When our life is overly complicated, we’re weighed down by superfluous things at every level.
We can begin to let go of the complications that cause us to suffer by cultivating a simple state of awareness. In this process, tiny steps yield big results, in part because simplicity is nature’s default position. Suffering and the complications that fuel it are unnatural; it wastes energy to maintain complexity.
As you focus on simplifying your life, make sure that your approach to the process is a loving and accepting one. Know that you are now doing all that you can do right now, and that is all anyone can do. When you stay in the moment, you have all the time in the world and whatever needs to be done will be completed in the exact right time.
Here is a practice that will help you let go of whatever is no longer serving you and return to your inherent state of wholeness, happiness, and well-being. First ask yourself, “Is there anything in my life that is causing me to feel a sense of unease, discomfort, or pain?” You can choose a persistent issue that has bothered you for years or it may be something that has recently come up for you. While it’s fine to focus on a chronic physical disorder, don’t approach this exercise as a cure—we’re focusing on patterns of perception that encourage us to hold onto suffering.
Here are some of the most common complications:
Disorder: Consider your physical environment. Is your house a mess? Is your desk buried under stacks of work? Are you letting other people leave clutter and messes in the space you share?
Stress: While the pressures of life are inevitable, if at the end of the day you are unable to completely let go of the day and return to a calm, centered inner state, you are overstressed. Make a list of the major stressors in your life and brainstorm ideas to either eliminate the stressor or to change the impact it is having on your emotional state.
Toxic Relationships: Are you in relationships with people who don’t have your well-being at heart? Make a list of these and consider what you can do to protect yourself from their toxic influence. Sometimes setting better boundaries and practicing the tools of conscious communication can be transformative. In some cases, ending a relationship may be necessary. At the same time, focus on nurturing your healthy relationships so that they are even more loving and fulfilling.
Negativity: Health and well-being are the natural state of the body and mind. By dwelling on negativity, we prevent ourselves from living in the simple state of well-being. Do you often gossip about others or relish their setbacks? Do you tend to choose friends who like to criticize and complain? Do you feel compelled to watch every disaster or catastrophe unfolding on the evening news? Remember, whatever we put our attention on expands in our experience, so consider where you are focusing your time and energy.
Non-nurturing Lifestyle: Do your daily routine, diet, and overall lifestyle support your health and well-being? When we don’t nourish ourselves with healthy food, restful sleep, regular exercise, a daily spiritual practice such as meditation or journaling, and other mind-body healing habits, we will inevitably feel tired, out of balance, irritable, and sometimes even depressed. What aspects of your lifestyle would you like to transform to bring you greater health and happiness?
For the next few weeks, sit by yourself for at least five minutes each day with the intention to clear away complications. In the time you set aside for this clearing, determine what area you need to focus on the most and work on that. It may be one of the complications mentioned above or a different area that is preventing you from experiencing a state of peaceful simplicity.
Start by thinking of the smallest possible action you could take—and then take it. Then choose the next smallest action, and do that. The action can truly be as small as opening your closet drawer to see if your gym shoes are inside. Then the next day you can commit to putting on your shoes, and the day after that you can decide to walk to your mailbox. Although such small acts can seem trivial, over time they help you build momentum and experience transformation.
Inner peace, clear conscience, a harmonious state of mind--these are treasures greatly to be sought for. A sense of peace changes you. It changes your Vision, how you see things. It changes your Light, how others see you.
The following story honors St. Patrick's Day (today is March 17) and, at once, illustrates the point:
Murphy was 77 years old and had worked 80 hours a week all his life and never had a holiday. His children were all married and his wife had died. He was finally at peace with himself and decided to enjoy life. He had a face lift, got a new expensive toupee, bought ten new suits and a brand new car. He looked great and felt great.
One evening he got all dressed up in a new suit, new tie, put on his toupee, and got into his new car and drove off towards Dublin. He was only gone a mile when he was killed in an accident.
On arrival in heaven, he walked over to St. Peter and said, "What's going on here? All my life I worked hard, and finally, when I had everything in place to enjoy myself, I was killed. Why? Why did you let it happen?"
St. Peter ducked his head in embarrassment and said, "Well, to tell you the truth I didn't recognize you."
So choose your thoughts carefully. As Nishan Panwan exhorts, "Keep what brings you peace, release what brings you suffering. And know that happiness is just a thought away."
Meanwhile, Light your Vision and See the Change!
As students at New View Concepts of Vision Light Essentials, we look for scientific evidence of the empowering concepts behind the tools we share. We realize that changing our thoughts can change our lives. One way is the impact our thoughts have on our neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain that play a major role in shaping everyday life and function. By managing our thoughts, we actually control neurochemical transmissions in the body. In 2012, Talya Steinberg, PsyD, observed:
"The body mind connection is a concept fundamental to many belief systems. What it postulates is that the body and mind mutually influence one another in a bi-directional fashion. In other words, biological processes affect thoughts and feelings, and cognitions affect body states.
This intricate relationship was well-demonstrated in a classic, creative study by Dutton and Aron (1974). The study took place at two sites, the first being a high, suspended bridge, and the second being a low bridge. After males, who just happened to be crossing either of these bridges on testing days reached the end, they were approached by a highly attractive woman and asked to fill out a short survey. Then they were provided with the woman’s “work card” just in case they had any questions. The researchers found that significantly more males who had crossed the “scary” bridge called the researcher than the males who had crossed the “safe” bridge. What the researchers theorized from these results was that the participants from the first bridge felt stronger feelings of attraction toward the woman researcher due to what is called “misattribution of arousal.” What this means is that the participants from the scary bridge, meeting the woman at the same time as experiencing a rush of adrenaline, interpreted their physiological sensations of excitement as arousal, or love, rather than just fear. The body’s underlying activity occurring in the background of consciousness affected thoughts and feelings.
In the same way as the body affects the mind, however, the mind is capable of immense effects on the body. The literature has demonstrated again and again that thoughts affect neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers that allow the brain to communicate with different parts of itself and the nervous system. Neurotransmitters control virtually all of the body’s functions, from feeling happy to modulating hormones to dealing with stress. Therefore, our thoughts influence our bodies directly because the body interprets the messages coming from the brain to prepare us for whatever is expected.
For example, research shows that psychological stress affects our levels of catecholamines, which include the neurotransmitters dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These neurochemical changes prepare the body to deal with perceived danger in a number of important ways, such as raising blood pressure so as to allow faster speed and response time. However, chronic elevations in catecholamines suppresses the immune system, and suppression of the immune system raises the risk of viral infection and other diseases.
Resilient people actually resist illnesses, cope with adversity, and recover quicker because they are able to maintain a positive attitude and manage their stress effectively. By managing our attitudes and stress levels, we actually control neurochemical transmissions in the body. The power of a healthy attitude therefore cannot be underestimated in the body-mind connection.
Take home message? Take care of your mind, your body will thank you. And on the flip side, take care of your body, your mind will thank you."
Jesse L. Dunn is an author and sought after teacher and speaker on the topics of human and corporate development. His motivating, entertaining and content-rich sessions have benefitted thousands. To bring him to your next initiative, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org