The quote on watching our thoughts is not about controlling our thoughts or suppressing our habits. What it says is simpler and more profound!
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
Watch your words, they become actions;
Watch your actions, they become habits;
Watch your habits, they become character;
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
My first brush with this profound statement was in my early school days. I fail to remember if I was formally introduced to it or I happened by it. Later, in one ‘Moral Science’ period our teacher lectured us on the meaning of this statement. It had a tremendous impact on me. Unfortunately the influence was a negative one.
The gist of the meaning (that our ‘Moral’ teacher gave us that day) was that we need to keep our thoughts in control else we would end up speaking them. We need to keep our tongue in check; else we would end up acting our statements out. We need to control our actions for otherwise they would become our habits and if we do not control our habits they will become our character. And finally our character will chart our destiny. So it all begins with controlling your bad thoughts. The phrase ‘negative thought’ wasn’t familiar to me back them; just good thoughts and bad thoughts. So “Do NOT have bad thoughts!”
That meaning could not have been any farther from the real meaning of the statement. Regrettably, I didn’t understand the statement any better that day and the ‘Moral Science’ class unwittingly sowed one of the early seeds of guilt and self-hatred in me.
I vividly remember trying to control my thoughts and words. To my despair, the more I tried to control the bad thoughts the more they seemed to pop like corn on stove. In desperation, I tried to investigate what bad thoughts were. That made things worse. As I delved to find out the bad, I ended up discovering more bad than I could think up of before. Creative exploration of how many more bad thoughts could I come up with given a situation became a compulsive mental stance. Finally I made some sort of temporary peace with my mind by accepting the thoughts and telling myself that this is how I was – different from others – and I simply needed to keep it a secret. But the inner guilt and self-hatred were quietly weaving away their garbs.
It was not until many many years later that I discover the real meaning of the statement and that too by accident. I had then shifted back to Chennai with my wife and had set up my Hypnotherapy practice there. By a quirk of chance, I had chanced upon Eckhart’s Power of Now and had begun a deep practice of mindfulness. It was a blissful period for me. I often used my walks and other routine activities to become mindful and present. So during one of those days, I walked to a nearby stationary-cum-xerox store to photocopy some documents. As the man and the machine hummed away, I simply stood there aware of my being and thoughts. And on the wall right across was an A3 size poster with the same sentence again staring at me. Standing there in mindful awareness, the profound meaning of the statement hit me in the face.
All that the statement ever asked of us was to simply watch. Observe. To be mindful. Not to control, condition, claim, manipulate, organize, or meddle in any other way but to simply be aware of thoughts as they happen.
Watch your thoughts. Be aware of them.
Notice your speech. Be aware of what you are saying.
Witness your actions. Just witness them.
Are you aware of your habits? Just be aware.
No judgment implied whatsoever. Nothing about good thought or a bad thought. Just a plain statement on watching one’s thoughts. No secondary meaning of holding your tongue or repressing your voice. Habits are so regular and ingrained into us that we hardly ever notice them. The statement simply asks us to know about our habits. To see them.
Every second statement is a simple statement of truth.
Watch your thoughts; they become your words.
Watch your words; they become your actions…
See how the spiral of waves move from subtle to gross, from thoughts to words, from words to grosser actions, from actions to habitual patterns, habits to character, and character to something both fine and gross at the same time – destiny. Like the spiral of a conch shell! So the statement also spirals outwards as a pointer to how things evolve – from within.
Such a profound statement!
But what is the use of it, if all it asks us to do is to watch without doing anything to stop us from becoming ‘bad’ or undesirable individuals?
Well the fear that we’d become ‘bad’ probably comes from our childhood programming where the statement was made in a very negative and tragic sense. “Control yourself, else you’ll suffer the consequences.” This makes the statement seems an affirmation of journey of a derailed life towards its inevitable destruction. But that’s not true.
The statement actually asks us to do something about it – in fact, it asks us to do something extraordinarily potent act. To watch.
Watching, as in simply being aware of something, being mindful, is a very powerful act. Suddenly in the state of awareness, we are pulled out of realm of judgments, desires and aversions. By becoming aware of ourselves we open up a field of possibilities beyond control and manipulation. We are not getting pulled into inferences and implications of our observed thoughts and actions. We are simply watching. The act of watching can simply dissolve our impulses to reaffirm (through desiring or denying) and anchor our behaviors in grosser patterns. Awareness helps dissolve the solidified and the crystallized. The truth is the power of awareness is best understood through experiencing it.
The statement also has nothing to do with age. It is never too late is something I’ve innately believed in and found to be true in most of my situations. Though I’ve come across the statement as a kid, I applied its wisdom only much later as an adult. And through application, I’ve come to realize that awareness is a natural aspect of life itself, a natural state of being and we can tap into it anytime we choose. And that awareness can become the key to unlock our potential to heal, to find peace, to discover who we are, and to be – to simply be.
Posts that may interest you:
Voices in our Heads
Are there good and bad thoughts?
Simple Meditation Techniques to deal with Stress and Anxiety
The emotions that make me alive are those that I experienced intensely and they have also added to the definition of my personality. So what is personality in such a case, what is me?
Which emotions makes your personality come alive? This is a question that came to my sudden attention this morning as I was performing some household chores. Usually when I’m involved in routine chores, such as doing dishes or riding to a shop, I try to utilize the time for practicing mindful awareness but sometimes I lose myself in thought. These are the times when, as in meditation, subconscious matters that need immediate attention spring up in form of thoughts or emotions for me. I think this is the case for a majority of people.
So today as I was involved in chores, a set of imaginary situations where I was displaying righteous anger towards some people was running amok in my head. It took a while to become aware of it and I suddenly realized that this is one of the core emotions that makes my personality come alive – righteous anger.
And then I recollected another emotion that was doing the same function for me – deep melancholy, a kind of philosophical sadness or sometimes deep aching sorrow that racks my being. And then another emotion sprung to mind – delight – not the childlike innocent happiness, but a mischievous and empathy-blinding delight – the kind that elves are fabled to possess. I’m sure there are a few other emotions too that bring my personality alive.
So you realize by now that I’m not talking about the spiritual-type of aliveness here – the one that accompanies a very present awareness and gives a feeling of weightlessness and joy sometimes. I’m talking about when my personality or ‘me’ comes to feel it is really living the moment. The kind one might feel when partying or involved in experiencing our favorite emotions. The ‘hero’ of the story of my life.
When I become engaged in righteous anger, a part of ‘me’ really comes kicking alive. It feels like I’m really living my life – even though such anger is deep suffering. When I become deeply sad, I come alive. When I’m playing pranks or jokes upon others and roll in laughter the ‘me’ is alive. When I feel a deep sense of betrayal or victim-hood, I’m alive.
I don’t want to call the above emotions ‘negative’, because that is just a labeling we’ve come to give them after social and cultural evolution made them undesirable for a ‘stable civilization’. But we also know we cannot stay human without them. And they are also necessary emotions that help me take action, that help me get inspired, motivated, or get going.
The interesting aspect are not the emotions but the personality itself. These emotions make ‘me’ come alive and feel like I really exist and matter, on closer scrutiny, are also emotions that define me. In other words, the story has become the hero in many ways. I hope I’m expressing myself well here.
These emotions that make me alive because I’ve experienced them intensely sometime in my past (probably more than once) and since I’ve experienced them so deeply they have also added to the definition of my personality. So the events that evoked the emotions acutely for the first time have defined or re-defined the hero of the story. Hence the story is making the hero.
So what is personality in such a case, what is me? Am I a bunch of emotions and memories that strive to keep those memories and emotions alive? The reason why this question becomes important is because if we notice, our lives are a repeating set of emotions and circumstances. The events may be different but the circumstances and emotions that we come to experience are the same set. And every time we strive to keep those emotions from repeating, that very act is nudging us closer and closer to experiencing those emotions. And even though I hate some of these emotions, if they are making me feel alive then isn’t it desirable subconsciously for me to experience them again and again? For instance, if every time I become deeply sad and spend those moments defining philosophies of life and death, I’m deepening my set of values by those acts and hence also ‘me’. And I like that. I like to be seen as a philosopher, or a iconoclast or any other definition that I want to hashtag to my name. So now, in spite of not wanting to experience loss (because to feel sad I need to experience loss over and over), I am unconsciously moving towards it still because it makes ‘me’ me!
But in the last few weeks, I’m also able to see a certain hollowness in my ‘me’ emotions. I’m able to notice, partly only of course, the string of thoughts that are constantly spinning the tale of me even as I am experiencing these intense emotions. This is giving me a certain space from which to see these emotions and the story happen. This is happening probably because in the past few months I’ve had been serious about me and finally came to a point where I was taking myself so seriously that I’m seeing holes in the plot, the plot of ‘me’. Not that I’m able to take myself lightly now. Maybe that’ll happen eventually, I don’t know. But for now I’m able to get glimpses of the story/hero building as it is happening live. When I’m talking to someone, I can see how I’m using certain words or actions or emotions to nudge the events or people into my story or into hero-elevation that I’m seeking. The sense of emptiness that is behind this story-weaving process (that’s for another post). The interesting part is that I’m also able to see the story-building even in self-hatred that I carry.
Of course I can’t say that the personality or the ‘me’ is not important or is false. It may be false, but it is also required as of now because without it I cannot even make a choice to earn my living or do the works that I do. Unless there is a clear seeing that the ‘me’ is false, there cannot be a pretense towards the denial of my existing personality. I’m still getting angry, I’m still being sad, funny or many other things that I am for now. But knowing which emotions bring me alive is definite progress over simply getting lost into them.
So coming back to the original question now:
Which emotions makes your personality come alive?
This age is one of self awakening and self-enquiry. Spiritual Hypnosis helps aspirants explore questions about life, the purpose and meaning of life, their role and place in humanity, questions about death and to communicate with their Angel Guides, Master Guides and Ascended Masters.
This age is one of self awakening and self-enquiry. More and more people are finding latent questions about life, the purpose and meaning of life, their role and place in humanity, and questions about death coming up so strongly in them that they are taking time and effort to seek answers. Spiritual Hypnosis is an area that helps in exploring many of these questions.
Spiritual Hypnosis is not a new field – the coining of the term is relatively recent but this the exploration of fundamental questions of life and self-enquiry through hypnotherapy has always been an integral part of Hypnotherapy practice. With the publication of books on Past Life Regressions, Spiritual Guides and material on Life Between Lives has helped bring this field into public awareness.
This is a field that helps aspirants connect with their spiritual guides such as Angel Guides, Master Guides, Ascended Masters and ancestral guides, it also helps in exploring key past lives (more about Past Life Regression)that are currently influencing the aspirants current lifetime.
This is a space to even explore questions like life purpose, or to uncover oaths, curses, spirit attachments that may be limiting or blocking an aspirant’s life progress.
Spiritual Hypnosis is an area that is best suited for people who have fundamental questions about life, unresolved deep-seated issues that block spiritual growth, those seeking to know more about life and death, and people who seek guidance of their Angel and Master guides. Spiritual Hypnosis is also sometimes used to uncover and clear blocks in their Chakras.
Dragon on a Trapeze by deadmanswill. A book of verses and my personal memoir – emotional, spiritual and delusional is here https://goo.gl/b9oQhe
Over the last few of years, I’ve been writing about my emotional and spiritual experiences as verses on Facebook and on other places. Some of them are about intense emotional experiences, some of them about my depression phase, some of them spiritual in nature, some about my mindfulness practice, and some about my seeking for meaning of life. Recently I’ve compiled them all at one place and edited about 70 of them into an ebook. This book is out on Amazon now. It can be downloaded to mobiles and tablets (through Amazon Kindle App), and to all Kindle reading devices.
Tomorrow and the day after (Nov 2 and 3) I have put up a promotional offer on the book, so it can be downloaded for free to your mobiles and kindle devices on those two days. Please make use of this if you are interested in reading the book. And if you find the book interesting, please leave a candid review on the Amazon page.
Here is a description of the book:
We all are on a pilgrimage towards our very being and existence. Constantly battling for everyday survival and yet on a quest to answer life’s vital questions. What keeps us moving in life? And what makes us dig into our past? What is it that makes us tick? Where is Life taking us? Once the seeker in us wakes up there is no going back! On one hand we are human in our emotions and aspirations, yet on an another, much deeper level we are sacred beings that is seeking the very source of its existence and a richer meaning of life. Who are we really?
This book of verses is an account of one such pilgrimage. Through personal hell and heaven in a search for the eternal. Through emotional ups and downs, through the metaphors of religions and the archetypes of Hindu Mythology, through the natural world and the valleys within, through the duality of existence and mindfulness of this moment, until the Dragon on a Trapeze emerges and the firefly in the Heart awakens!
When home wobbles like a top
And we find no sacred ground to stand firm
The dragon on a trapeze
Comes to the rescue
Would my head stop wobbling
Like a planet
Drunk with love and fear!
Can I slip out of this familiar orbit!
When I walk in silence
Amidst the falling leaves
And autumn sunshine
I see you
If the sun burns the heart,
The moon cleaves the mind,
And truth splits the tongue,
Then who fires the stomach?
When the juggler finally arrives
Will he paint a garish smile on my dead face
Or would he rekindle the joy and toss the corpse?
An oasis of hope in the desert of seeking
Let the duet end
And the dancers vanish
And let it be known
That all movement
Moving beyond depression is a bit like leaving the ruins of your house blown apart by a sudden explosion. It’s tough! You don’t want to. It makes a melancholic sense to hang on to the broken pieces, hoping that you can still piece things together. You see the ghost of the sorrowful self still lurking in the ruins, lurking behind bare brick walls, standing underneath gaping hole in the ceiling, staring at the starry night framed by naked, twisted steel rods sticking out of the shattered concrete. This ghost has seen the light through the explosion and wants to forever be lost among the ruined foundations.
And when you have realized the immense blessing that the depression has been, the sense of old self becomes a thick nostalgic fog that lingers in the throat. What you’ve lost doesn’t want to leave you entirely. What’s new is not wholly invited. There is such a sense of immense sacrifice that you’d want to cloak it around you as a new identity. You drag it around and display it to the world. But then one day you realize, it’s all done.
Your sense of former self has been blown to bits. The field day you’ve had sobbing in the ruins is done too. The bits don’t belong to you anymore. What happens to the ruins is no longer your concern. Sacrifice is not a virtue anymore. All that’s left is a beautifully broken mind, a seedling of heart sprouting new hope, and a world full of possibilities. Above all a deep sense of aliveness inside that can lead to renewal of innocence and a new song. The cloak is the skin that has been shed. The snake cannot carry it around anymore. There’s no point to it.
If one continues to wrap it around and live in the ruins, one becomes a ghost of the past, haunting places that don’t exist anymore except as fading, weather-torn ruins in time-divorced spaces of the mind. The ghost cannot desperately cling to the thick night to see the glowing light again. The ghost and night needs to pass. Gray needs to give way to purple, and purple to pink, yellow and orange. If you need to let out one last cry, do it now. Let the tears carry away the hopelessness and melancholy that you’ve made your home. And let the final sigh give birth to renewal.
The night is through. Walk out into the dawn. You don’t know what is out there. But then you never did. The child still learns to eagerly crawl, walk, and explore. Let’s not meet the future. Let’s meet this moment fully. Let’s meet each other fully. Let’s meet this world fully.
Years ago in my early days of blogging, I used to write against religious superstitions and blind beliefs. Needless to say contempt had been my biggest tool in propagating reason. I used to be pleased by a good number of comments and likes for my posts from people who supported my perspectives. Then one day I wrote a really explosive and extraordinarily contemptuous post against a particular religious superstition and there were really violent reactions. Believers attacked me with the same contempt in the comments section and then non-believers came to my support. Then the both groups left me out and were vulgarly stabbing each other with their sarcasm and violence. I was aghast at the whole proceedings and went back into my shell.
It was one of the turning points in my perspective on communication and the beginning of a journey. I went back and looked at all my blog posts and realized that all my posts had failed to impact the way I had intended to. I was hoping to change the fundamentalistic upbringing of children and reason-less adherence to rituals for the sake of it. But all the comments on the blog posts proved that those who appreciated my writing were already people who had similar perspectives, not believers who saw reason in my writing. Those who did not agree with me simply avoided my posts or blasted me as they finally did.
The reason was simple. My posts had been over-sarcastic. Contemptuous. Non-empathetic of those who I wanted to read my posts in the first place. I was constantly saying ‘you’ are doing this and ‘you’ are doing that. My contempt was my sword and shield. Reason was buried deep under contempt.
I then radically changed my writing. I decided to be empathetic not for the sake of simply writing or putting a point across, but to genuinely understand another person’s perspectives and beliefs. It became a constant in my writing. The ‘you’ became an ‘I’. And my posts started being about what I learnt in life rather than what I want others to learn.
Unfortunately back then, I was satisfied by this surface examination. I didn’t see the long roots contempt had put into the depths of my being. Sarcasm was, for me, just harmless jokes we make on each other. I continued to use it in my daily life without even realizing its presence too much. I had a couple of people tell me I was being contemptuous when I was joking around but none of those comments registered into me. I thought they were simply misrepresenting my words.
Years passed by, and very recently I had the good fortune to visit Ramanashramam in Tiruvannamalai. While meditating, out of nowhere I got this feeling that it’s time give up my contempt. Somehow sitting there, I did not even question the randomness of that thought. I just quietly agreed.
Once I was out of the ashram, the first question that popped in my head was ‘What is contempt?’. I had no definitive answer. I decided to simply watch myself everyday till I discovered answers to the question. Life had turned very busy soon after that and I was meeting loads of new people. So there was a lot of social activity and conversations everyday. It gave me the canvas I needed to paint a picture of my contempt. Though there were many moments when I was totally lost to the awareness, there was still something shifting in the back of my mind. It was busy painting.
What is emerging is not a nice picture to look at. I was appalled at the ease with which I used contempt in my daily conversations. In fact, there are a few persons in my life with whom there would be no conversations if I really gave up contempt. All we did when we got together was to make comments on people and prejudices – nothing else.
I realized that this was my shield primarily. The moment I felt hurt and had to withdraw into my self, I would turn sarcastic or contemptuous. When I am unable to see another person’s perspective, I would become contemptuous of that person or their beliefs. It is also my sword. I would use it to lash out my violence upon others with it the moment I felt hurt or intruded. Somehow, the more ‘intellectual’ I feel, more the contempt seeping out the corners of my lips.
I have also become aware of contempt as a social norm. We love sarcasm so much that there are pages after pages on it on Facebook with millions of likes. Cynicism is an extreme of that habit. The question is what goals are being achieved out of contempt!
Is our communication effective? Yes, but in the exact opposite manner to what we intend. Is our daily life being enriched with this contempt? On the surface it looks like it keeps us in good mood and spirits, but then we are forced to ask the question what is it that we are hiding behind our contempt? Who is the child within who was so ignored that he had to grow this thick shell of contempt? And what happens when we lash out at others with contempt? Does that strengthen our relationships?
Contempt, for me, has become that metaphorical lashing tongue that cuts all cords with everyone and everything and finally takes us back to where we began and what we’ve been avoiding all our life – isolation.
So how do I break this shield of contempt? For now I am simply watching. For experience has shown me that awareness and recognition are the most important. I see the ebb and tide of my inner violence. For contempt cannot be seen without seeing the violence in me. It can become painful at times to watch but the journey is worth it. Let me see where this leads to. Will keep you posted.
Back from a deeply satisfying Body Behaviour workshop at Third Space in Thiruvannamalai and my first pilgrimage to Ramanashramam. Here’s the pic:
For those of you who aren’t aware of Third Space, (FB Page) it is an amazing community space started in Thiruvannamalai two years ago by my dear friends Naveen, Sangeetha, Rajeev and Isha. They have hosted several events, workshops, film screenings, organic vegetable and fruit bazaars there. Every event held at Third Space is either free or based on Gift Economy where the participants pay whatever they want to from their hearts; there are no fixed charges.
My workshop Self Awareness through Body Behaviour too was based on Gift Economy. I had some profound learning in the workshop and as you can see from the pic, it was an all women participants group and was a gifted opportunity to explore my own feminine issues during the workshop.
Hope to have more such workshops, events and talks in future – at Third Space as well as other places.
How often are we aware of our inner state of being?
Can we become aware of our emotions as they begin to arise, before they become a flood?
How do we monitor our daily thoughts and emotions?
How stressed and anxious are we in our daily routine?
Self awareness is a way of progress – both spiritual as well as material. Awareness of our inner state of being helps us identify and work through various phases in our lives. It helps us with keeping healthy relationships both with ourselves as well as with our loved ones.
Watching our thoughts can be a difficult and, at times, a most frustrating of endeavors. Luckily each of us have an anchor – the physical body. Our bodies not only help keep us grounded in the present moment but they are also perfect mirrors for all our thoughts – both conscious and subconscious.
Almost all of our body behaviour, be it a gesture, a movement, a posture, or an expression, is a reflection of our inner state of being. By learning to watch our body behaviour everyday, we gain access into the inner recesses of our emotional and mental states. We can become aware of our anxieties, our stress-related thoughts, our emotional tipping points, our inner fears and motivations. Over time, the practice can help us identify self-destructive and repeating patterns in which our lives sometimes seem to get caught in.
It also helps us have better interpersonal relationships as we learn to be more empathetic towards others around us because we can understand them beyond their spoken words and defensive behaviours.
IN THE WORKSHOP:
We will learn to observe ourselves and understand our gestures, postures, expressions, micro-expressions, and micro-gestures that we commonly exhibit in our daily routines.
We will examine various real life video footages of people to practically understand the body behaviour in various circumstances.
We will participate in discussions on moral/social/religious issues that can bring up various defensive and offensive gestures and behaviour in us. This will help us in watching our body behaviour as emotions and thoughts arise, flow and subside.
We will record and interpret videos of our introductions, discussions, and other physical activity we may participate in. In short, we deepen our awareness of ourselves.
25th March (Saturday) – 10 am till 6pm
26th March (Sunday) – 9am till 5pm
Participants will have to bring their own notebooks and stationary. If they want a copy of their recordings, then they are requested to bring their own usb drives on the second day.
*The workshop is limited to 8-10 participants only.
Gift Economy (you may pay from your heart whatever you are willing and able to)
Click the link for Registration: https://goo.gl/forms/R0L85AojTt0LMvVg1
About the facilitator – Kiran:
Kiran comes from a background of therapy and healing. He is a Hypnotherapist and a Reiki Healer with an experience of about 5 years. He has been conducting workshops on Non-verbal Behaviour for about eight years now.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Is this workshop same as a workshop on Body Language?
Body Language, of late, has come to mean manipulation of our body behaviour and appearance in order to project a false image of ourselves to gain advantage of a social or a professional situation. In such workshops we are encouraged to control and hide our original emotions and thoughts, and also to assume non-existent rapport with other persons for our own gain. Our workshop is different from it.
In fact, the opposite is encouraged here. An honest exploration of our body behaviour in order to unearth underlying emotions and thoughts is the focus of this workshop with a goal of eventual release of our self-limiting beliefs, fears, and blocked emotions.
Will I be taught how to better present myself in professional situations and impress others?
No. This workshop focuses on exploring our authentic selves beneath and beyond our social masks and images.
Who is eligible to participate?
Anyone with an interest in self-exploration and self-healing is welcome to join us. Age is no bar.
Can I control my emotions like anger and sorrow after this workshop?
When you say control, I am assuming you mean resolution. That is being able to resolve emotional issues. In that case, this workshop would be a good start, yes.
Here we learn to identify and become aware of our internal resistances and reactions. All ‘dark’ emotions start off as a resistance to an external situation and with body awareness we can identify them and examine the root causes of these emotions.
Awareness would be the emphasis of this workshop, since awareness is needed for any release/resolution. Do understand that in case of certain long-standing traumas and deeply blocked emotions you do need acceptance and surrender to your emotional state especially when the resolution/release begins.
Begin the New Year by taking your health into your hands. Learn a healing system that will help you heal and manage your issues in life. Start 2017 by becoming a Reiki Healer! We are conducting a Reiki Healing Workshop Levels 1 & 2 coming January 7 & 8 (Sat, Sun), 2017.
Reiki is a Japanese form of Holistic Healing System where the Reiki Healer channelizes healing energies into the client to heal our energetic bodies and, via it, heal our issues in life. Reiki also promotes general and spiritual well-being of a person, improves health, relieves stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety are the root causes for many ailments physical, mental as well as emotional.
The number of participants is limited between 6 & 8 only. Please register now to book your seat in this workshop! Please read our FAQs to learn more Reiki. For Registrations call Geetha @ 9394301400.
We make meditation difficult by turning it an impossible feat and a near-superhuman ability. But in truth meditation can be so easy. Read on to find out about the five greatest misconceptions about meditation that prevent us from benefiting from this greatest method of self-healing!
We make meditation difficult by turning it an impossible feat and a near-superhuman ability. But in truth meditation can be so easy. Here are the five greatest misconceptions about meditation that prevent us from benefiting from this greatest way of self-healing!
Meditation is Intense Concentration – Meditation is the relaxation of the mind, not the exercise of it. Trying to concentrate consciously is like stiffening your muscles for a body massage. It is counterproductive to meditation.
Concentration is actually a side-effect or benefit of good meditation. Most people, even many meditation teachers mistake it for meditation. It is not. Meditation is easy focus; like the way you would spend an evening at the beach with a book. You really don’t concentrate on anything. You just let your mind relax.
Meditation is Total Absence of Thoughts – It is not. Once again this is a by-product of meditation sometimes and it is mistaken to be meditation. Meditation is simple awareness of your thoughts. You know that if you try to stop your mind from thinking about something all the mind can then think of is that which you don’t want to think about. And a lot of beginners give up meditation because of this. They think they are simply unfit for meditation. As if someone can be unfit to relax!
In meditation you are training your mind to take your thoughts less seriously. This is done simply by letting your mind think and at the same time watching those thoughts with an attitude of a dispassionate bystander. As if your thoughts are some vehicles passing on the street below as you watch them from your balcony. Yes in the beginning you tend to get lost with the thinking easily. That is the bystander becomes the driver of the car. And all you do, as soon as you realize this, is to go back to watching your thoughts idly.
Meditation must be done only at a certain Place And Time – It is not a must, it just an option. In fact, as a beginner you are most likely setting up yourself for failure if think you must do it at a certain place and only at an appointed hour. Because, then, even if you miss it once you are likely to get frustrated and give your mind an opportunity to quit it altogether. Sure meditating at a certain place and at a regular hour will help with your practice. But there is another benefit to meditating at various hours and at various places every day.
That is gaining the ability to relax your mind anyplace and at anytime. Anything can help you do that. The sounds and sights around you, watching your thoughts, being aware of sensations on the body, literally anything! One of the best methods is to combine both techniques of meditation. Meditate at a regular spot and time for a slightly longer time like, say between 10 and 30 minutes, and then meditate just for a minute or two at various times of the day wherever you are. This is one of the best combinations that works for me always! Then even if I skip the longer meditation I am not so disappointed, and I also gain the capacity to relax and heal in midst of work and noise! Try it and see!
Meditation takes a long time to master – What do you want – mastery or benefits of mediation like peace of mind, and mental clarity? Of course, by ‘mastery’ most people assume staying in a particular posture for long hours with intense concentration and without any thoughts whatsoever! Even the most practiced of all meditators cannot claim such an achievement! In a yogic practice such a state is called Samadhi, whereas meditation is called Dhyana – a state of continued awareness that can lead to Samadhi if the aspirant wishes it. So meditation is different from Samadhi.
The long-term benefits of meditation require sometime to pop up in your life. The immediate benefits of mediation are, however, quite readily apparent. And meditation by itself does not take months or years to master. How many seconds do you need to relax? Relaxing the mind is successful mediation! To be able to relax with such consistency takes regular practice but by no means more than a couple of months if you really go at it.
Meditation is Difficult – Do you really think it is that difficult even after reading all of the points above? Meditation is easy! We are all programmed to believe that we cannot gain anything unless we work hard towards it. And then we translate that belief into mental work too. Mind works the opposite. The harder we try to control the mind, the more violent and chaotic it becomes. In fact, our efforts to control it are adding to the mental noise not easing it.
The trick with the mind is to relax it by letting it wander. And then simply watching it without much reaction. It is easy to do. With enough practice you learn to do it even when you are disturbed. What you need here is not hard work, but short and easy repetitions. Remember, meditation is easy!
We always carry a self-image or a definition of self in not just our heads but in our actions, postures, and critical decisions we make in our lives. In fact, if we look at ourselves closely, the ‘I’ that exists is that self-image. We’d also like to think that we know ourselves better than others do about us and we are very clear about the self-image we hold within. But the truth is almost always far from it. Self awareness is as scarce as common sense. What we believe consciously to be our self-image is, in fact, the defensive-self or the mask we’ve created to face the world. A mask that we’ve built very early in life and have been developing and polishing ever since.
But the true image we hold of ourselves is very deep in our subconscious minds that it takes some practice of awareness to come in contact with it. We get brief glimpse of it when we are provoked into emotion unexpectedly and in our dreams. There are very simple exercises to find out what is truly our opinion about ourselves.
If you’d read one of my previous posts about Voices we carry in our heads (opens in new tab/window), you’ll know that most of the time the arguments we have with other people in our heads are not really arguments with others, but actually an inner conflict. I’ve categorized in that post, the various kinds of voices we carry and it is those voices that provide us with real clues and thoughts about self-image.
These ‘voices’ in our heads are extensions of conflicts we’ve had with others in our lives. For instance, say your spouse said something about you and you found it judgmental – say about your capacity to speak up against your boss, you may or may not argue with your spouse about it, but you then carry around a ‘voice’ of your spouse judging your similarly through your daily activities. And you start an internal argument with that voice and it gradually becomes a part of your daily mental noise.
Now coming back to finding out your self-image through the use of this inner voices we carry in our heads, every time an argument pops up in your head try to look at it dispassionately and without attachment as if you are listening to two strangers speaking to each other at a bus stop. By doing that the first thing you may notice about the voice is that it is not actually a real person speaking to you at that point of time but an imagination on your part. Any voice in your head is a part of your imagination and therefore an extension of your beliefs about yourself and not opinions of others. See what category the voice falls into (see Voices in our Heads for the categories).
Voices of guilt and shame point to a kind of self opinion, like say seeing ourselves as a ‘bad’ person or a ‘sinner’. They may even speak about how ‘deserving’ of something good we feel we are. ‘Put-me-downers’ speak about our opinions about our capabilities. They could also be speaking of the ‘loser’ in us. Morality checks also speak about our guilt – more likely our current actions and our own approval and disapproval of them. Voices usually fall into more than one category since at a deeper level all our problems are interconnected webs springing from our sense of insecurity, self-hatred, and fear.
Once you start trying to find your self-image through this exercise, you may encounter the difficulty of trying to watch your inner arguments being pulled into them. It is an expected difficulty. Just keep on with the practice. Every second of dispassionate observation adds to inner enlightenment. Some ‘voice’ may even start commenting on your inability to stay detached and try to use this activity to feed your mental noise. Just be aware of it, and you will be able to bypass it. Remember, awareness is the key.
We have crawled out of the Dark Ages into the New Age of reason and intuition, but we have carried our guilts and fears into the light. Can we heal them now?
For centuries, perhaps millennia, fear and guilt have been the primary tools driving our existence and ‘progress’. Civilizations and cultures have relied on these two tools to maintain ‘law and order’. Religious leaders have found them the best allies of piety. Nations and Politics need them to keep vast populations in conformity. Fear and Guilt have become the hammer and wrench of the parenting toolkit.
Today, after centuries of crawling through dark ages we are finally moving into the age of light and awareness. An age where reason and intuition become the equal partners they have always been. We are ushering in the New Earth, but the devil persists. The backbone is still the same old guilt and fear. Now there is a third partner – Anger. Our generation’s anger and guilt is a heavy stone-filled rucksack we shoulder day and night. Without them, it feels too light and that’s more guilt. How can I enjoy when the world is in suffering? We carry them because they give us a purpose in life. As if we really matter.
We are guilty of pleasures – no, not the old world pleasures of sex and food – we have liberated those from the gilded cage of guilt. Our generation is guilty of happiness, wealth, comfort and even peace. We are angry and guilty that we raped our earth. We are guilty that we aren’t doing yoga every day. We are guilty to sink into a sofa. We are angry that our family members use plastic. We have guilt of our privileges and wealth. We are angry at our own judgments. We live in guilt, eat in guilt, look into mirrors with anger. We are angry that we are guilty. We are guilty that we are angry all the time. We are the same old ‘morally outraged’ people as any generation before us, only the commandments are different. The New Age has become just old wine in new bottle.
And we are simply passing that on to our next generations. Fear and Guilt are again the tools out of parenting tool kits. I don’t beat my child nor use verbal abuse, but my child is so sensitive today that all it takes to give it a good beating is a look of reproach and blame. I know it makes me guilty to do that, but unless I learn to heal my guilt and anger, I cannot stop giving programmed responses to others. Does it mean that I should stop saving the earth in the meanwhile?
Well, isn’t healing ourselves the greatest contribution towards a better earth? What about plastic and violence then? Let’s look at the motivation behind the question in the first place. Why are we concerned about plastic? Is it because I love this earth all the time, or is it because I am carrying guilt all the time? Perhaps a bit of both. And violence, why do I want to put an end to it? Is it because I love humanity so much that I don’t want to see the end of it, or is it because I live in fear all the time. A bit of both.
If we try to heal just the symptoms without examining the causes, we will simply end up replacing the old symptoms with new ones. In fact, humans have just been doing it over the centuries.
Well, then how can I get rid of my guilt, anger, and fear then? Aren’t they the root causes to all of this? But what is causing them, who is experiencing them? I am not asking a ‘spiritual’ question here. I am asking a practical question. If anger, fear and guilt need to be healed, the one who is experiencing it needs to heal. But who is that ‘one’ when all anger, guilt, and fear are healed? Who is the ‘one’ who is constantly having equally opposing thoughts all the time? Who is the ‘one’ who is on a mission to ‘save’ the world? Am I? Who is the one that is apart from the world? What makes me, me without anger, guilt, and fear? Can we really look at ourselves and ask these questions seriously?
Perhaps these questions are too ‘impractical’ and ‘vague’ to be of real use to some of us. Maybe in that case, I should simply start becoming less and less morally outraged as a start towards healing this guilt and anger. Perhaps I should simply start watching myself and my feelings without too much attachment so as to see the inner movements of fear, guilt and anger before they even become external realities. Perhaps just observing will bring to light many hidden destructive pathways that I seem to take every day with practiced ease.
And what use is it if I do all of the above to save the earth and my children from suffering. That would simply create more guilt and anger every time I fail. Maybe it is time to acknowledge my own suffering as the greatest obstacle to healing and real peace. Maybe it is time to see suffering as the cause of it all. Can we choose to move away from suffering?
How we imagine criticism from others and carry those voices in our heads to keep our sanity alive.
“Voices in Our Heads
Voices in Our Heads
We carry them to our grave”
Often people judge us. They are ever willing to comment upon our appearance, performance, occupation, status, behavior, our decisions and some intrepid commentators even enter our minds to dictate our thought flow.
Who are these people who judge us? If we care to spare a thought to it, we’d realize they are not faceless and nameless bunch of strangers we often call society, but they are the very near and dear. Beginning with our parents, they include our sibling, our friends, spouses, children, families next door, colleagues in office, mates in classrooms, and now our friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks we frequent. In fact the closer a person is to us, more their opinion matters.
How often do we let our actions and decisions in our lives be influenced by how others perceive us? We like to think it isn’t as often as it actually is . Again, if we cared to notice we would be shocked to see how much we go out of our way to impress our judges and to conform to their standards. And boy do we hate ourselves for it! Some of us do the opposite and do everything possible to provoke and anger the judges of their world. And boy do they hate themselves for it!
But the greatest woe to us being social animals is how we carry the voices of these judges in our heads even in their physical absence and let those voices dictate our reactions and behavior. In fact, if we really observe, we are more influenced by the voices in our heads than actual situations of judgement and criticism from outside in our lives. We lose peace and joy with these voices running our lives from our heads. How are we to let go of these voices ? How can we shut those people from passing commentary and judgement on everything we do?
It begins with the stark realization that these people do not actually exist except when we are in direct contact with them! What it means is that their voices in our heads are not opinions of people but are distorted echoes of our own beliefs and programming. It is easier to understand this if we understand the kinds of voices we carry in our heads.
Voices of Guilt
Friend/Colleague: “Well, at least I take care of my parents! I didn’t abandon them in their old age!”
Parent or Spouse shaking their head in disapproval when we are tempted to drink more or spend money on shopping.
Guilt is a sticky residue that takes very long to wear off. In social structures, guilt and fear are greatest tools for control and they are used everywhere right from child rearing to politics in keeping vast populations in check. It is easy to find people who can be the judges of our guilt in our heads. In the beginning it is the parents, then we have friends, sibling, spouses, colleagues doing the jobs satisfactorily in our heads. Essentially they are our conscience.
Shame is a stronger counterpart of guilt. Religious and national shame and guilt are commonly programmed in early life. Shame about sexuality is a very strong programming that leads to suppression of physical joy and pleasure. Hence imaginary voices reminding us of our shame is one of the easiest to surface since suppressed emotions do not tend to stay suppressed for very long.
It is more common among those of us who have been rebellious against norms and morals in our early ages. It is also commonly prevalent among those who have been sexually abused/exploited.
A studious brother/sister becomes a morality checker in the head of a cheating student.
A environment friendly colleague turns a morality checker for a luxury loving person.
Guilt in turn breeds severity. Eventually, guilt in our psyche turns us into moral policemen of sorts first with ourselves and then with our families and professional circles. We find convenient voices from our own family and circles to be moral reminders. These are played in our heads as imaginary situations where our moral laxity is being noticed by the more upright person. Sometimes we find also ourselves wondering how the other person would behave in a situation that we currently are in and that imaginary situation can influence our current decisions.
Parent/Teacher/Team Leader: “You could have done better!”
Neighbor/Old Classmate/Wealthy Uncle: “Do you know how much I earn in a year?”
How often we hear voices of our near and dear in our heads disparaging our accomplishments and efforts. Birthed by own low self-esteem and self worth, these voices seek to increase guilt and constantly make us feel worthless. No matter what our accomplishments or how proud we feel about them, these voices will quickly demolish the pride and the perspective.
Self Hatred Voices
Shame makes us hate ourselves. And since guilt and shame cannot be kept hidden for long, they gradually increase self-hatred, which in turn feeds the shame and guilt. A vicious cycle indeed! These voices are stronger and more malicious than Put-Me-Downer voices. They bring a barrage of shame, guilt, moral degradation, feelings of worthlessness all at once. It also breeds rage within.
The voices of people we employ in our heads to feed our feelings of self-hatred turn those people into real villains for us in our social lives. They become unforgivable and hateful for us. A real challenge to overcome!
Sometimes these voices are also faceless criticisms running in our heads. Eventually they wear the masks of someone we know. At times it is a random stranger we face in the streets. At times it is even a simple sound or smell. For instance the sound of running water is a guilt reminder for me. I cannot be peaceful until I find the source of the running water and turn it off.
By now its become clear that most of these voices stem from unresolved emotions and bad self-opinion we carry within. We simply put masks to those voices, blame people around us for the suffering we undergo and attempt to unsatisfactorily resolve the situation by reacting to or avoiding the people around us. In all honesty we know that isn’t the problem.
Another aspect that becomes clear to us is that we love the drama of arguing within our heads. Demonizing somebody other than us is the easiest way to keep the drama alive.
So how do we free ourselves from these debilitating self-criticisms?
Keeping our heads above the waters
Well the first step is to keep our heads above the waters. That is to be clear at all times that the voices we carry in our heads do not really belong to the persons we imagine them to be of but they are just projections of our own suppressed/undealt psyche. That way we do not drown in the drama of emotions.
The simplest way to deal with this is to look at the drama in our head when it is happening and asking ourselves if the voice that is running in the mind actually has a physical body then and there. Is the person actually present right now or am I simply arguing with her/him in my head? When the person is not present, it means that the criticism in the head is a mental project of my own thoughts no matter how true it seems to the character of the person I imagine the voice to be of. At times even such validation cannot keep us from the temptation to have drama in our heads. Especially when we are righteously angered which is most anger!
Facing our hidden selves
The second step is facing the hidden emotions and beliefs. We can never really be free of self-accusations until we learn to face the suppressed emotions and programs that are causing the accusations to fly in the first place.
Most of us are afraid of facing them. We assume that by bringing up the suppressed emotions we will bring back all the bad things that have happened to us in the past. Some of us even go to the extent of ‘rationalizing’ them away. That is one of the greatest sins of our times – using rationality to desensitize ourselves. Emotions cannot always be ‘rationalized away’, they just disappear into our subconscious to work within us below the radar of the conscious mind.
Facing the suppressed emotions does mean facing some of our greatest fears but also not at the same time. Just like we put masks and voices to our own unresolved emotions and conflicting beliefs, similarly we also have objectified our greatest fears. All fear is simply fear at the end. The object of fear is the mask we have created in order to keep our sanity alive. Facing our unresolved emotions does not mean we will be forced to face the objects of fear, but it means facing the fear itself.
And by facing, it simply means that – facing. Not trying to deal with it, not trying to work through it, not trying to be courageous. But simply sitting with it and watching it.
Letting our fears through
Unresolved emotions remain unresolved because we haven’t let them through. We haven’t let them go. Facing the emotions and fears means letting them go. How to do that? Ever heard a bell or a gong ring. It begins with a rising pitch, reaches a peak pitch, and begins to fade and finally it is gone. Letting emotions pass is very similar to listening to the ringing of a bell. We just have to watch them through. We do not have to do that all at once, we just have to begin. Can we not do that?
The greatest obstacle to watching our guilts, shame, and fears go is not the lack of ability to do so but our programmed beliefs and moral codes. Social, educational, economical, religious, political, spiritual and cultural morals, codes, beliefs, and systems that have been devised keep our humanity alive have today themselves have become roadblocks to their own goals. We are afraid that by letting our guilts and shame go, we would turn decadent and immoral. But it is, in truth, our repressed emotions that are leading us to violate our moral codes and beliefs. And letting go of guilt does not lead to lack of restraint. Hanging on to it does.
Similar false logic applies to our fears. If I let go of my greatest fear, then I will face my greatest fear. That is my fear of ghosts is what is keeping me from being tormented by ghosts. But the truth is if I let go of my greatest fear, then there is no greatest fear to face at all.
Can we keep away from such mind play? Can we really question our beliefs and codes? Not to break them or bypass them, but to let go of our prejudices against ourselves. We need a healthy relationship with ourselves over a healthy relationship with our beliefs and programs. Can we not do that?
Unicorns ask us to embrace our innate nature of child-like trust in life.
Unicorns usher in a new reality into our lives. One of purity, non-duality, childlike innocence, magic, and hope. But perhaps the most important message of a Unicorn is the need to shift from our Ajna chakra (Third Eye) based spiritual life to a purer living through Crown chakra. In this age of left-brain dominated activities everything we do and desire need to fall under the purview of our mental grasping. We even subject our creative endeavors to the laws of logic, statistics and averages.
So it is no surprise that all our spiritual pursuits are also, consciously or unconsciously, aimed at the activation of third eye rather than the ultimate goal of self-realization. We ‘need’ to know everything we do spiritually. We are concerned with the arousal of our clairvoyance abilities. Our meditations are despairing efforts of concentration than the ability to let go and be. We need to ‘know’ ourselves and the tiniest quota of the unknown throws us into desperation and irrational fears. Our faith is more of testing and being tested and than that of simple trust in our higher faculties.
Even the Unicorn’s horn is misinterpreted sometimes as a symbol of third eye awakening. Let us take a moment and imagine ourselves to be that Unicorn. Let us posture ourselves like it. Immediately we realize that the horn of the Unicorn is not between the brows of the horse but on the top of its head. A Unicorn is a pure symbol of divine surrender and simple trust in life itself. The horn symbolize the union of both the right and left brain hemispheres but it doesn’t spring from our ‘intellectual’ efforts for the union. Rather it is like an icicle, or better a stalagmite of ice that is formed by gradual dripping of divine nectar of bliss from above. Each and every time we let go and just be and trust the life within to nourish us, even if it is for a fleeting moment, we dip into that sweet and divine bliss of eternity and beyond. And over time, as droplets over droplets accumulate and drip into us, the poles of balance expand from the third-eye-and-sacral-chakra spin to the crown-and-root-chakra spin. The third eye enjoyments can be as vicarious as the navel chakra enjoyments.
A Unicorn is asking us to trust life like a child does, to believe in magic – not just of ethereal kind but of practical, earthly nature too. The Horn of Unicorn is an usher into reality beyond illusions but to glimpse it we need to go beyond knowing and the known, like a Unicorn does. Can we?
Here are three useful spells and a meditation technique for prosperity, psychic abilities and mental healing for the coming Super Blood Moon day on September 27, 2015.
Follow the link: Three Spells and A Meditation
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There come many opportunities in a person’s life when they can choose to follow their hearts or continue living in fears and insecurities of the mind. We (Geetha and I) have passed through quite a few and perhaps there lie a few more ahead of us. Most of the times, our choice was of the heart but once in a while we let our fears cloud us and keep us in the same of loop of suffering. We are once more at one such juncture in our lives.
This time the choice was unhesitating and simultaneous for both of us. Now, we’ve both come to a clear realization that further and truer healing cannot happen with conventional therapy but rather through a deeper introspection and awareness. And stepping into pure present moment awareness means we cannot avoid stepping into the unknown that follows it immediately. And to do that we realized we simply have to put in more faith into the life within and trust it to take care of us. And we are doing that. We are going away together to explore and experiment in deeper and truer healing. And, as usual with our lives so far, the experiment is first on us. We didn’t have to go away to let this healing happen, but the moment the realization to heal deeper came for us the universe opened doors for a perfect space to heal!
As a result, we are both taking a long sabbatical and we are closing Purple Room Healing for the public. The leave is for at least six months. The blog and all its articles will still be available for you all. We are also opening a site and another blog to share our onward (and inward) journey and to write about the practice of awareness. We will announce them here soon once we have made the physical transition to our new home and personal healing space.
Thank you all clients and friends who made this journey with us. We learnt a lot from each of you and we hope each of you had equally benefited through the help we could extend.
“The only freedom we’ve got is not to react to anything, but to turn within and know the truth.” – Robert Adams
Anger and frustration are emotions of high energy. Unlike states like depression, these high energy emotions need immediate venting and they are hard to keep suppressed for long. We want to do something when we identify ourselves with those emotions. We become very impulsive and often do things that we regret later on.
In our attempts to healing them we usually overlook the intimate connection between a negative high and a positive high in an emotional cycle and the underlying principles that dictate both. And this ignorance, unfortunately, keeps us from healing ourselves. Let us look at what happens when we experience high-energy negative emotions like anger and compare them with certain, what we call, ‘positive’ emotions.
When we are angry or frustrated, we lend our whole being and identity to that particular emotion, which means there is a high degree of self-indulgence. We tend to become impulsive. We let the emotion dictate how we react to the circumstances and to the people around us, as well as with ourselves. Our actions and words are influenced by the emotion.
When we look at our ‘positive’ high-spirited behavior (which is our idea of having fun or being happy) the same principles that govern the negative emotions are being applied here too. We lend our identity to that mood or emotion, we indulge ourselves, we become impulsive, and we speak and behave under the influence of the emotion. Think of any activity that is fun for you. It could be hanging out with friends, becoming impish, eating, dancing, singing, sexual indulgence, etc. The external activity varies from person to person.
The reason why we fail to identify this is because we mistake positive high-spirited activity for happiness. Unfortunately it is not. More often than not, the ‘positive’ high-spirited activity is largely our desperate attempt at ‘filling’ our life with seeming happiness rather than actually happiness and contentment itself.
Please note that some of the same activities may be performed without it becoming your illusory positive high. You could involve yourself into dancing and reach a calm state of mind. That is not the illusory positive high that I am talking of. So how do we identify that illusory positive high emotion that leads to indulgence?
Look for exhaustion, tiredness, and a lingering unease and boredom. When we are engaged in indulgence that gives us an illusion of happiness and joy, we will also find it exhausting and draining – especially towards the end of the activity you will find yourself desperately and mechanically clinging to the activity but you are not really involved in it really. There sometimes is a sense of uneasiness and boredom towards the end. None of these side effects are seen when we are really content with lives – when we are truly happy.
Our body always looks to balance our energy levels. So a bout of high-energy activity will be followed by a period of low energy levels. Emotionally it could be a period of depression, lack of interest, and a sense of despair. It may not necessarily occur right after a bout of high energy activity. The duration of the period could even be weeks. So there could days or weeks of high activity followed by a few weeks of depression and despair.
Expecting to heal our anger while we continue to indulge ourselves in ‘fun’ is unrealistic. So does that mean we must cut down upon our ‘fun’ activities? Cutting down will not lead to healing; it will only cause a future outburst of excess indulgence. Unfortunately our culture tries to teach us self-control and suppression. Control and suppression is not a path of healing.
The only path to healing is by understanding the emotions and their underlying causes completely. For in deep observation and understanding the conditions for pain dissolve and we discover ourselves.
Hypnotherapy is one therapy that can help identify our habits of emotional highs and lows through regression techniques. Many a time, ‘seeing’ the whole of our past patterns alone helps us dissolve a large part of that habit subconsciously.
How many straight lines can we draw from a dot? Infinite. It means there is infinite number of viewpoints from which you can see a dot. How many straight lines can we draw connecting two dots? Only one. And this line can be further projected on any side of the dots to predict the occurrence of similar dots. This is funnel vision. As our mind connects similar experiences (dots) across time, it tends to project a future with narrowed possibilities and diminishing joy. Think of it as an inverted funnel place in front of our eyes, like eyeglasses, and we can see only through the small opening at the base of the funnel.
Funnel Effect is common to all of us and most of us fail to recognize its presence and effect upon our lives. Our minds have infinite capacities to bring to us (or take us into) those experiences that prove our existing beliefs. For instance, if a girl believes that all her romantic relationships would end in the man dumping her then that is all she will experience or fight against one relationship after the other. After a few relationships, she may form a new belief that all men are untrustworthy. And she then continues to attract herself into hands of such men. And if she chances upon a trustworthy relationship, her funnel vision can cause her to remain suspicious of the man in her life and can even end up in severing the relationship out of her inability to trust him.
What this girl, in this instance, fails to understand is that her first incident of heartbreak had become the base out of which she operated in the next experiences. Either she would want the same outcome if it makes her happy, or she would want to avoid the outcome if it had suffered her. The very pain has become a yardstick of measure for her. And even the very first experience could have been attracted due to an underlying feeling of undeservedness and poor self-image she had experienced in childhood.
The problem with this emotional approach is that the emotions can make a mere possibility seem a certainty thus creating an anticipation and preparedness – a narrowing of our vision. Naturally when the situation occurs we interpret it through our narrowed or filtered vision and give out prepared reactions only to regret later on. Sometimes the narrowed viewpoint is so strong that we may not even realize our misinterpretation for long.
Our rational mind is also not free from such bias or funnel vision. In fact, it can have more devastating effects in some cases. When a logical mind has to make predictions about an event, it always estimates possibilities based on past similar experiences in our lives or other’s. But all data from past is based not on reality but on the memory of the experience of the reality – either ours or of others around us. That’s like mistaking twice adulterated milk to be pure milk.
Another problem with rational mind is its blind reliance on science. There is an excellent dialogue from the movie Men in Black that beautifully illustrates this problem. Tommy Lee Jones makes this statement to Will Smith after Smith’s first experience with an alien being: “Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”
A logical mind concludes often fails to understand what it ‘knows’ could be just one, its personal, version of reality and not the truth.
Logical mind kills joy because of its tendency to be too controlling. Emotional mind increases pain because of its tendency to indulge. Funnel vision causes this to become reality of the future. Think of it as series of dots joined by a line, only the mind did not just create the line but it even ended up creating the dot after dot in its life based on its past prejudices.
When experiences in our lives become our beliefs, we undergo a gradual narrowing of our vision and philosophy in our lives to such extent that all we get to experience of life is but a tiniest fraction of its wondrous spectrum of possibilities. We trace a path of suffering, struggle, and strife ahead of us and end up living it just because we assumed a possibility to be a certainty.
So how do we get rid of this funnel in front of our eyes? By first acknowledging its presence. Unless we know our vision is narrow, we will remain the proverbial frog in a well that thinks the well is the whole universe.
The second step is to learn to be in the moment instead of simply accepting the viewpoint our thoughts portray based on our past memories. We cannot stop the funnel vision from giving extremely convincing viewpoints. But we can stop ourselves from entirely believing the viewpoints and being open to the present moment as if it were our first experience. And that is also the truth. No matter how many times we may have experienced events similar to the current situations we are in, we have never experienced this moment before.
We can color this moment and make it as painful as the past with our complicit acceptance of the funnel vision. Or we can simply let every moment become a fresh experience by paying attention to this moment to see what we can experience this time. When we remain absolutely open to the moment, life can surprise us with new joys and experiences that we never had before. Deeper doors within us can open up making us more sensitive to the wonders of life. And this also serves to widen our visions and eventually get rid of the funnel effect altogether.