Watch your thoughts; for they become your words!

The quote on watching our thoughts is not about controlling our thoughts or suppressing our habits. What it says is simpler and more profound!

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“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.”

shell-2218491My 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.

Pic Courtesy: https://pixabay.com/en/shell-conch-conch-shell-nature-2218491/

Posts that may interest you:
Voices in our Heads
Are there good and bad thoughts?
Simple Meditation Techniques to deal with Stress and Anxiety

Self Awareness through Body Behaviour Workshop

Self Awareness through Body Behaviour Workshop
Body Behaviour Workshop in Tiruvannamalai

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.

WORKSHOP DATES:

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.

WORKSHOP FEE:

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.

5 Greatest Misconceptions about Meditation

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!

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Meditation is easy.

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.

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Even simple sounds such as the patter of water can help you relax your mind and meditate.

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.

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Meditation is simple awareness of thoughts!

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!

 

Find out what you think about yourself!

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.

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Voices in your head are subconscious projections of your self-image

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.