The "Practical Spirituality" Newspaper

The Mind Can Heal Itself

In Conscious Living on March 3, 2010 at 8:57 am

The ability of the human mind to peel away the layers of falsehood and reveal ones truth has always amazed me. So much so that I have devoted much of my life to the study of it. How does the mind work? How do emotions interact with our thoughts? How do we become aware of things and ‘know’ new things? What inside us makes new knowledge ‘stick’?

What amazes me most about the human mind is it’s ability to provide it’s own healing. How is it that we can be confused one moment… and wise and enlightened about our circumstance the next? What are the mechanics of this? How do we make such shifts… and more importantly, can we harness this ability?

Making a Practice of Rooting Out the Disturbances in Your Life

In my life, I’ve adopted the practice of examining the disturbances in my life. Whether it be an outer situation that has knocked me in some way or an internal clash, I take the time to address each instance and become aware of what troubles me.

So as part of my daily practice, I take the time to ‘pull out the weeds when I see them’ ( a mentality left over from my days of working at Gardenworld. ) It is either done right there and then or later during my evening reflection-meditation. This may seem laborious to some – of focusing on each disturbance – but my philosophy is “I’d prefer to deal with it once… than to live it again.” This is based upon my ( current and evolving ) belief that each negative incident in my life belongs to a ‘pocket of awareness’ inside me. I may be wrong but until I find a more accurate model to live by, I’ll follow this one.

My practice sounds robotic maybe, but it is actually a fluid practice. One thing is for sure, it takes practice, dedication and responsibility. And even if I am just practicing those things, then that’s okay with me!

So how many ‘personal disturbances’ do I deal with in a day, given the countless life situations I find myself in? One maybe, sometimes none. While it is true my observation is a daily practice, the practice is not about reacting to ‘every little crack in life’s concrete’. That would be a bad habit to get into. I am more robust than that! The practice is not about ‘picking up every little detail’ but to apprehend the story behind whatever disturbance is playing out. And then observe my role in the events.

In other words, the practice is to pay attention to what’s really going on in your life – not just what you think is going on based upon surface judgments.

Drilling for Oil

The Practice of Presence that I am explaining is more like the spreading of a fishing net on a river to catch a fish than a rigorous, focused examination of the events in your life. Many people are ‘aggressive healers’ and turn their ‘healing work’ into a harsh practice and jack-hammer away at their souls in a quest to ‘release their pain’. And then wonder why their is so much distress and grief bubbling up from the inside.

“Boy, why haven’t I healed yet? There must be a big issue me…” < sound of a jack hammer starting up again >

I call this ‘drilling for oil’ – boring down so hard on yourself that black, murky stuff has to come up. But it’s not old pain. It’s new pain associated with your hell bent need to find out what’s wrong with you!

The problem with intensive inner focus is that it narrows your awareness rather than widens it. And does more harm than good. Why? With such a narrow focus ( i.e. you are only looking for problems ) and the intensity which you focus ( i.e. focusing mental energy toward yourself. Energy that moves = emotional energy ) you wind up creating the very thing you are looking for. Sure, you may get some old issues bubbling up, but the material will be accentuated by what you are now doing. I.e. Drilling for oil.

Hitting Pay Dirt

By entering into an examination of the ( content of the ) mind, you become the quiet observer. The quiet participant. The passive pedestrian. And allow your mind to do all the heavy lifting; for it will.

By waiting quietly, you can better see the commotion going on inside you. The noise. The stressing and straining. And this is the trick to the practice, to remain calm, quiet and observant when your mind is attempting to drag you around like wild horses.

Stillness as Your Tool

When you realize that being still ( as opposed to applying an active mindset – i.e. applying a therapy, technique… or even a visualization to ‘deal with’ your internal disturbance ) and being aware is the antidote to the commotion going on within you, you have a profound tool to work with. And as I have found, you only need one tool to do all of your inner work.

Why does stillness work? Shouldn’t I apply a technique or a therapy?

Stillness. And observation is the therapy! It’s about connecting your awareness. The main reason why being present and observant works is because you are forming more and more of a conscious link to a sub-conscious problem. You, in your posture of passive-awareness are anchoring your active-stress-pattern.

This is how you defuse your stress patterns ( and neutralize their effect on your life ). By offsetting them with a neutral posture. Watching, noticing, experiencing, allowing and not-judging your internal noise… all of these things work to counteract your ignorance ( of what ails you ), confusion, reacting and fixations… as well as all the other junk that has it’s roots in an active mind.

Don’t drill for oil. Don’t even have a healing agenda. You’ll only end up harming yourself.

Better to wait for life to present you with the material that you need to connect with – when you need to connect with it. Allow life to do the unfolding and set the time for healing…

‘Relax and unfold’.

  1. I agree, they are. It’s a balance between random life experiences and ongoing ( recurring ) stress patterns playing out; i.e. the same old garbage. Quite often we get caught up in examining the cracks in the concrete rather than looking at the wider stories that play out; stories that we can change for the better should we address them.

  2. While cleaning out a young Sun bear’s cage at a wildlife rescue centre in Borneo, I was distressed by her distress as she unavoidably became drenched by the water I was spraying while cleaning the small compartment she was placed in during cleaning time. I was later informed that it is good for the animals to have “negative” experiences as this would help them cope with and survive the challenges they would face once released back into the jungle.

    Therefore, maybe the minor “cracks in the concrete” are a vital part of our growth and well being and we should endevour to identify the challenging albeit helpful (small) anxieties from the majour issues, thus helping us to direct our focus more practically and beneficially.

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