In Wayne Dyer’s book, “the Power of Intention,” he shares a conversation he overheard soon after 9/11.
A grandfather and his grandson were talking. The grandfather said, “I have 2 wolves fighting inside of me. One is filled with anger, hate, violence and revenge. The other is filled with love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.”
“Which one do you think will win?” asked the grandson.
“The one that I feed”, replied the grandfather.
Stop and think about that for a second. Which wolf are you feeding these days?
Your self-talk, your values, and your beliefs effect how you react to your world. And your beliefs are created by thinking the same thoughts over and over again until you ‘believe’ they are true. Which means it’s important to know what you’re thinking!
When you are thinking attack thoughts, you are feeding the wolf of hate and negativity. Just like, when you are thinking loving thoughts you are feeding the wolf of compassion and kindness. I’m going to make the assumption that most of us would prefer to feed the wolf of kindness.
So, how do we manage our thoughts?
By paying attention. Here again, is yet another great reason to meditate and practice being mindful. And, I’m actually going to rename the practice of mindfulness to “mind awareness”, because that more truthfully describes the practice.
“Mind awareness” is exactly what it claims to be: becoming aware of what your mind is thinking. This requires you to disconnect from your thoughts and observe them, rather than associating and hooking into them. By that I mean, you don’t take your thoughts as “truths” and act upon them. Instead you notice them and allow them to show up. But, you take no action based on those thoughts because you are now simply observing them. Thus, you are disengaging from the power they have over you. They are just thoughts. You decide whether to act on them or not.
Not to get all “Matrixy” on you, but the truth is, you are not your thoughts…you are the one thinking your thoughts. Your true self is the” observing self” as some call it.
This is where meditation comes in. There are many forms of meditation. And there is a specific way to meditate for mind awareness.
Before I go any further, I want to clear up some confusion about this form of meditation. The goal is NOT to have no thoughts while meditating. The goal is to allow TONS OF THOUGHTS while meditating, and instead, notice the thoughts and then let them go.
So how do we do this? For some of us, we follow our breath in and out. Some of us use a mantra that we silently repeat in our head. Some of us listen to pretty music. (My faves are at the bottom of this newsletter) What’s most important is that you sit down and do it, not whether you’re saying the right mantra.
You sit, for a chosen amount of time, and notice when your thoughts distract you from your focus. Then, when you notice your mind has strayed, you simply return to your breath or mantra. That’s it. Easy peazy.
I can already feel your resistance…”I don’t have enough time”. First of all, you do…(my last newsletter was about that very thing and if you missed it let me know and I’ll send it to you). You likely have that resistance because someone said ’20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening were best’. Well, really? I started with 3 minutes a day! I’m not kidding, that is how I started my practice. Now, I meditate almost every day and for however long I can. Some days it’s still 3 minutes, some days 10, sometimes several times a day…As long as I’m doing it, it’s helping.
Let’s get back to how that translates into real life. When you practice noticing your thoughts when you are still and quiet, you will find it easier to notice your thoughts when you are busy living your life. And by noticing your thoughts, you can start to clear out some of the negative ones and replace them with something more positive. You will more quickly notice when you are being judgmental, impatient, and self critical. And because you are conscious of those thoughts, you can then actively begin to cultivate more compassion instead.
And, the more you practice, the easier it gets.
Set your time to meditate. Remember, just 3 minutes most days is a great place to start. I don’t care how busy you are, you can carve out 3 minutes to sit and notice your thoughts. Then start to be more mind aware throughout your day.
Some people have a reminder on their phone that goes off several times a day to remind them to observe their thoughts. Some people post it in various places reminding them to be mind aware.
After a while, you won’t need the reminders. But when first practicing this, I recommend doing something to help you remember throughout the day. After all, most of us are on auto pilot for a good amount of the time so remembering to shift into awareness can be challenging. So, set up some reminders to make your life easier.
Try this for a week and see how much easier it is to notice which wolf you are feeding…and let me know how it goes!
And, if you want to go deeper with meditation and mind awareness, get in touch. This is one of my favorite practices to work on with people.
And if you liked this, remember: retweet, repost, forward to a friend!
And lastly…if you want to meditate to my fave music…check it out here