What a profound truth.
We tend to believe our thoughts. In fact, we think we are our thoughts and emotions. By saying “I am angry” I am identifying with my emotion. A more appropriate description would be “I feel anger arising in my body”. Believing our thoughts causes us to act on them (thinking is an action).
You know the anger, the anger doesn’t know you.You know your thoughts, your thoughts don’t know you.
Every experience you have is you, the subject, witnessing an object (thoughts, experience, people, your body, a car, food, etc..). You are the sentient, conscious, observer of these objects. As the observer, YOU remain unchanged by your experience, it is the thoughts that change, not you the witness. You, as the witness, never change.
Why is this important for your health? Because, our bodies are physical representations of our minds.
You may have experience frustration and anger when you were low on fuel because you hadn’t eaten. But once you had a meal your behavior and mood got better. You may have also experience tension in the neck or headaches when you were under a lot of stress. Or perhaps you’ve experienced having to go to the bathroom when you were nervous.
Our perspectives and lifestyle choices are conditioned by our families, by society, and by our experiences. Our society has been conditioned to believe that a lifestyle of working and playing hard is normal.
Many of us don’t even think we are stressed, we’ve grown accustomed to this lifestyle.
We work long hours, run our kids around, fill our schedules to the max, eat processed, toxic food, live in a toxic environment, and watch our screens. We have relationship issues, financial issues, divorce, death in the family, taking care of children or a sick family member.
We don’t have a pause button.
This lifestyle and negative thought patterns trigger the body’s stress response. The stress response is there to help us through times of stress. But when engaged chronically, over a period of time, it falters. Because it regulates our metabolism, reproductive system, digestive system (including our microbiome), immune system and endocrine system, we begin to fall apart.
This breakdown is a gradual slow process that happens over years. It may start with a few pounds of weight gain each passing year or digestive systems issues, feeling a little more tired than the year before, or hormonal problems. Each coming year we may present with a new symptom that we chalk up to ‘getting old’, until one day we are diagnosed with a disease.
Mindfulness practices allow us to observe our lifestyle choices and thought patterns and make modifications.
When your thoughts are no longer triggering your body’s stress response, the body is allowed to heal and regenerate and will therefore have more resources for life stressors that are sure to come. These practices balance and strengthen our nervous system, digestive system, glandular system, and the immune system in a positively glorious ways.
Every cell in your body will sing and you will thrive. If you don’t believe me, just try it.
Being mindful means observing and modifying.
By observing my thoughts I realize that they are not me and that ‘I” the conscious observer have the power to choose my response to my experience.
Only a clear mind, free of tension and dullness has the power to do this.
By practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques you cultivate a clear, peaceful mind and you increase your willpower, the strength to respond appropriately to your thoughts and experience and to choose a new way of viewing your experience that is in alignment with your values and higher principles such as service, forgiveness, patience, forbearance, compassion, and gratitude.
You can choose positivity over negativity.
In the early stages you might meet resistance to this as you learn to break deeply ingrained patterns but with practice and perseverance and the right attitude, you will soon see your own faulty unconscious behaviors that are the root cause to your suffering.
Enlightenment isn’t some higher conscious state. It is simply the knowledge that I am not the body or the mind. I am the knower of the objects and experiences in my life. If you can embody this profound truth then you will have attained enlightenment.
The one thing we know for sure is that our experience is always changing, but I, the conscious, observer, does not.
So if you don’t like your circumstances, just wait it out, it will change, and keep your eye on the witness.