Watching the Mind
Watching your thoughts without judgement is the key to becoming self-aware and unlocking your potential to create the life that you truly desire.
It is very common for people to confuse their thoughts with who they are, when in reality thoughts are nothing more than conditioned mind patterns that operate spontaneously.
You can choose to change the nature of your thoughts at any time, and in doing so, you will dramatically change the external circumstances of your life. Lack of money, confidence, freedom, influence, and whatever else you desire but don’t have, is nothing more than a product of your inner world and how you think.
Cultivating heightened awareness will allow you to change your core beliefs to ones that support rather than hinder you in achieving your goals and living your dreams.
Daily freehand journaling is a wonderful practice for increasing awareness, because it is a tool that allows you to watch your thoughts and analyze them more closely.
You would be very wise to spend 5 to 10 minutes every day, preferably before you go to sleep, to write in a journal of some sort. Reflect on your day and write down every thought as it comes to your mind.
Do not stop to analyze what you’ve written and do not edit or censor yourself in any way. Simply let the words flow out of you until you feel as if you have cleared your mind.
After you are done writing, you can then re-read what you’ve written and analyze the nature of your thoughts. Does what you’ve written reflect a hopeful, optimistic attitude? Or does it reflect a more negative and self-critical attitude? Perhaps it is a mixture of the two. Whether your current attitude is positive or negative is not important.
What is important is that you have put your thoughts out in plain sight where you can look at them more objectively. If you had not done so, those thoughts would have passed through your mind without you really noticing them at all.
You would have lacked awareness, but through writing your thoughts down, you will have gained a heightened sense of awareness, and that is the foundation for all positive change.
To enhance this practice, you can do what I like to call “thought restructuring.” While re-reading what you’ve written in your journal, take notice of anything you’ve written that could be considered negative in any way and underline it.
Then, at the bottom of the page, re-write it in the form of a more positive statement. For example, you may have written, “A man at work today made a disrespectful comment and really made me upset.” You could then rewrite that statement as, “I got upset today over a comment that someone made, but I realize that the man may have just been having a bad day, and I am ultimately responsible for how I react to him anyway.” You see, you can put a positive spin on absolutely anything.
There is always a way to reframe seemingly negative situations into positive ones, and your ability to do so will determine your levels of success and happiness. The practice of meditation is another powerful tool that you can use to cultivate a higher awareness and thus an ability to change and improve yourself.
Meditation is sometimes confused with being a religious practice of some sort, but it is not at all. Meditation is simply a tool for connecting with yourself on a deeper level. Meditation involves being alone with your thoughts and feelings and simply “watching the mind.”
Find a comfortable place to sit where you won’t be bothered and just try to focus on the sensation of your breathing. Feel the air as it enters your nostrils and goes into your lower lungs. Breathe deeply into your lower abdomen.
Relax your abdominal muscles and allow the air to expand your belly on the inhale. Relax your entire body and allow the air to naturally escape through your mouth on the exhale.
Thoughts will come to you as you do this, but simply go back to focusing on your breath whenever you notice them. Very quickly, you will realize the incessant chatter of your thoughts. You may feel powerless to control them, but that is only because you have likely never attempted to. Daily
meditation will help you become the master of your mind, and that is a skill of utmost value. Meditation and daily journal are similar in that they both allow you to become extremely aware of the nature of your thoughts. You will quickly notice whether your thoughts lean more on the positive or negative side.
Even if you are a relatively optimistic person, it’s very likely that you still have many mental blocks. Your success in life and your current levels of happiness are always an accurate indication of the nature of your thoughts. The more satisfied you are with life, the more positive your mindset is. But remember that the circumstances don’t create the attitude; your attitude creates the circumstances.
Describing the practice of meditation and all of its benefits could take up an entire book of its own, but my goal here is to simply make you aware of the tools at your disposal.
I cannot stress enough the importance of daily introspection and self-awareness, and I hope that you consider incorporating at least one of the two practices mentioned.
The changes that will occur as a result will be subtle at first, but over time they will compound and create major change in your life.