Kickstart your mental cleanse
Many people love to start the new year with a good body cleanse of some sort.
But what about a mental cleanse? I'd argue this may be more important.
When we get right down to it, we are animals. Carl Jung observed that the brain is like a computer that operates in the same fashion it did 40 thousand years ago. And as Freud said "We learn as children how we react emotionally, and this is carried into adulthood."
So, unless we're paying attention, we're just running patterns that were etched into our hardware in childhood, but more so, thousands of years ago.
Here are 3 ways to reboot your brain and stimulate your conscious mind, as opposed to merely living from your mammalian brain.
1. Do you focus on what you have or don't have?
For most of us with achiever mindset, we tend to ruminate on what we don't have, but still want. Sure, there's a time and a place to stretch ourselves. Yearning for more can be an incredible driver. But the habitual need to focus on what's not there, what we don't yet have, or who we haven't yet become, puts us in a state of insatiable lack.
Buddhists have a term for this, which I write about in my book: the concept of the Hungry Ghost. These are beings who are tormented by desire and can never be satiated. They are often portrayed with tiny mouths and throats and the swollen bellies of the starving, meaning they can never consume enough to ease the suffering of their hungers.
It's a disturbing image that stays with me and reminds me that wanting more is a pattern. One that, if I'm conscious of, I can ease away from and into the comfort of what's before me.
Take notice, do you tend to focus on what you have or what you don't have?
2. Do you focus on what you can or can't control?
We lose an incredible amount of life-force focusing on what we can't control.
One response to dealing with what we can't control is to complain - either internally or externally. Complaining is a habitual behavior tic, one that shows a strong identification with the ego.
The more we complain, the more solid we feel we are. Complaining assumes that you are right and the "other" (situation, person, etc.) is wrong. The ego can't help but want to settle into the hierarchy of rightness, even if that rightness assumes you are "a victim to your life."
But there's another way: RECOGNIZE.
Before you get sucked into complaining, ask yourself: can I control this right now? If the answer is no, train yourself to stop the chatter. Don't go there - avoid wasting your energy on what's out of your hands.
When we focus on what we CAN control, we feel more in charge of our lives. Even if we feel helpless, there is always something small we can control.
In the scheme of life, we have very little control - over others, situations, and even ourselves, at times. Loosening our grip around that which is out of our hands creates a gentler inner relationship, and lightness of heart. This way, you can flow with life instead of always battling to get upstream.
3. Do you focus on the past, present or future?
“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
It's one of my favorite quotes. Of course, we all focus on the past, present, AND the future at different times. But ask yourself, which one do I focus on predominantly?
And get about the work of paying attention.
There you have it, Loves. Here's to your mental health.