I remember a time when my wife and I were talking to some friends and she said something that sparked my happy meter and forever etched itself in my mind. She remarked, “Tony isn’t like me, he has a calm mind…” What a nice thing to say! And I have to admit my mind is generally very calm, despite the occasional times I’m like a duck on the water, appearing serene, but paddling like hell underneath. (smile) So, as you may have already guessed, this blog is about cultivating a calm mind.
Before I highlight some key principles, I think it’s important to understand why. Your mind is the center of your life. It’s not just part of your experience, it is your experience. It’s the largest determining factor in how your life progresses. And, as the central hub from which your life proceeds, it has to be in order. Imagine trying to run a business with a thousand random papers and files all over your desk. Picture your warehouse operation functioning properly with no system in place. Instead of success you would experience chaos which may be an apt description of many people’s lives. Good things, great ideas, quiet, gentle guidance, self control, and the ability to problem solve all come from a calm mind.
An agitated, upset mind is like your mouth when you leave the dentist’s chair. You’re drooling and biting through your tongue; your face is sagging and you are completely unaware of it. Or said another way, all kinds of crap is happening to you; affecting you; harassing you, but you are too distracted to see what’s going on. It’s similar to trying to find your ring at the bottom of the pool while the water is agitated. You’ve got to wait until the agua settles down before you can see. Ya get it?
You’re not alone in your anxiety because the whole world is in turmoil. People suffer in silence because they think it’s normal. Some have never experienced peace. But, you should know that you were not designed to live that way. You were specifically designed with a mind so that you could direct your life. You’re not an animal with built-in instinctual behavior. You’re a human being who needs a calm mind. Interestingly, letting everything go; being perpetually distracted and overwhelmed, actually reduces your life to the level of the common beast. You sort of sniff around seeking to get your basic needs met with no thought about what you could really accomplish or experience if you got your base of operations in order.
Stop for a moment to consider how many thoughts go through your mind in a day. How many of them are negative, critical or fear inducing? If you are inexperienced in controlling your thinking (and yes you can control your thinking), I would wager many, if not most of your thoughts fall into this category. “You’re an idiot for forgetting that meeting.” “Look how fat you’ve gotten you big slob!” “Why don’t things ever work out for me?” “No-one gives a damn about me.” “My stomach hurts. I hope it’s not cancer.” You can multiply these thoughts out indefinitely. What runs through your mind isn’t the biggest issue. The crucible that separates calm from chaotic is what you do or don’t do about those thoughts. You can’t crap on yourself all day long then wonder why you feel anxious. And trust me, it is occurring even if you don’t recognize it. You don’t recognize it because you are distracted and if you add up enough distraction, you feel overwhelmed! Simplistic? Maybe. True? Likely.
In order to find your way to tranquility, you have to do some work with your mind. The peace is already there for you, but you aren’t experiencing it because of those rogue thoughts you are letting go. Your primary job is to fight back. Challenge that assertion! For God’s sake, don’t just let it go. You may be a pacifist. You might be the most non-confrontational person on Earth. But, if someone keeps punching you in the nose everyday, at some point you’d have to punch back. Not fighting back parallels the distress affecting your nose region. You’ve heard of the calm before the storm right? Well, there’s also a calm after the storm is over. Peace comes at the end of the fight. You can gauge your success rate by how you feel. But make no mistake, like it or not, you have to take it on. It’s like quitting smoking. It feels impossible at first, but day by day it get’s easier. At some point you even forget you ever smoked.
Once you begin to win that battle in your mind each day, your calm returns like that ferrel cat you’ve been feeding. In that space of calmness; of tranquility; at peace, you can finally see. Not the cat silly (smile), the trouble when it shows up. You’re at last in a position to handle the issues on the front end. As you cultivate this habit, you get more and more accustomed to the peace. In your peaceful state you can sort out the issues; recognize your triggers; think through your problems objectively and best of all, hear that still small voice ever able and willing to give you a solution. You’re no longer distracted by the hundred-fold fears that assault your mind. You cannot be overwhelmed because you’ve been handling your business in the only time period you can affect – now!
Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this, in the ocean of life the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep: wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!” ~ James Allen
Just some good thoughts…