Our thoughts are the seeds of our reality. So it pays to be mindful of what we sow.
I just finished a 30 day meditation course on the topic of focus. It’s so fascinating to watch my mind reach for distractions just to avoid feeling or thinking about the things that it doesn’t want to. In the last year, as I’ve begun focusing on cleansing my mind, body and spirit, I discovered a subtle ripple of anxiety that still lingers in my shadows. A remnant from an emotionally turbulent childhood which often left me feeling generally unsettled and not good enough. As an adult I dedicated a lot of time distracting myself from this underlying feeling in an attempt to convince the world, and hopefully myself in the process, that I was perfectly functional, successful and happy. It felt like the easiest, quickest way to deal with it.
But inevitably my smooth facade would crack and unresolved, highly pressurized feelings burst out and cause trouble. Negative thought patterns can proliferate surprisingly quickly and darken the lens through which we view the world. Before long our reality reflects and validates our style of thought and creates vicious cycles of negativity. Left unchecked, my business, social and family relationships suffered and dramas ensued. I blamed everyone, but most of all I blamed myself. Of course blame never really help anything, in fact it just makes everyone feel worse. But I was doing my best to stay distracted and balance spinning plates until eventually, as often seems to happen, the universe slapped me upside the head repeatedly until I finally said “Enough! I get it! OK! I’ll deal with it!” And even as I continue to lick some old wounds, I remain grateful for all of it, as it was all a necessary part along my path of self discovery.
So after we realize what we need to do, we’re free and clear, right? Well maybe if you’re a super lucky, insta-enlightenment type, if that even exists. In my experience life will continue to serve us up moments that challenge us, so learning to move through them with grace seems like a worthwhile skill to hone. One of the most profound things I can do for myself is to surround myself with reminders that I am complete in this moment and that my very existence is all the proof that I need. People, places, substances and all types of an experiences all lead me closer to or further from my highest path. And when I softly focus on myself in the present moment then I’m able to steer myself more willfully, with less chance of excessive turbulence. Every moment is an opportunity to practice this and to change the way I think. And by changing the way I think, I change my very reality itself.
While this concept might be simple it’s definitely not easy, and lasting change takes continual effort and commitment that you renew in every moment of every day. But don’t be too intimidated. In time, like any skill, we get better at it. That’s why many people call it their personal ‘practice’; we’re practicing how to live. Even now, with a much clearer mind, an awakening body and more resilient spirit I still stumble along the path. Like a great onion blossom of my soul, I witness lingering feelings rise up and attempt to assert influence on my thought patterns. I know I could easily start weaving a familiar story, one in which the world around me is full of reasons that prove that I’m not enough. But by maintaining a soft focus I remain in the observer role. It sometimes takes a little faith or a deeply ingrained affirmation to tell myself that it’s not true, even if it feels really true in the moment! More importantly I know that these feelings have no deeper agenda than just wanting to be felt. I comfort myself by telling myself that it’s OK to feel these feelings; in time they’ll pass and the less tightly I grip on to them, they more easily they will fade. Sometimes it takes mere moments and other times it takes longer. Life will no doubt continue to offer opportunities to practice but each time my ability to return to a place of love for myself and the world becomes more smooth and graceful.
As my thoughts return to love and gratitude, my reality reflects them once again, and I feel surrounded by sweetness and appreciation. “I never left you, because I am you”, it whispers in my ear.