July 1, 2016

Why Your Thoughts Can Make You Feel Horrible and How You Can Solve It

The mind with its thoughts can make us feel all kinds of uncomfortable things. What we try to learn when practicing mindfulness is that those thoughts do not represent reality. They are not truths--they are delusions, so to speak.

That's why we should practice letting these thoughts go, understanding that they hold no truth. May these thoughts be our fears, our judgments or our regrets, it doesn't matter.

That is all clear if we understand the basics of mindfulness. The hard part is that these thoughts bring feelings with them. Feelings that are uncomfortable and are not so easy to shake. Feelings that we want to run away from.

Thoughts have brought feeling with them, and we should accept their presence. It is important to understand the following:

The body doesn't see the difference between an imaginary threat and a real one.

Which means that our body will react to our thoughts as if what we're thinking about was actually happening. The uncomfortable feeling is not there because the threat is real. It's there because our body doesn't know the difference. That's why we have to step out of thought and realize that our body is only reacting to an imaginary threat.

This may not be the easiest process, since the uncomfortable feeling and the untrue thought feed on each other. The feeling validates the thought and vice versa.

There is one thing we can do when faced with a situation like this. And that is to react with a peaceful mind.

Because think about this: Is there any situation where a peaceful mind wouldn't be useful? A mind at peace only makes every situation clearer, so we can react to any situation as best as we can. A peaceful mind is always a good thing. 

A mind in chaos, however, is never a good thing. It never aids us, it never helps any situation. So overthinking and worry is never beneficial. It does no good to anything, and it only makes us feel a lot worse than we should be feeling.

A situation is never as bad in real life as it can be in the mind.

So what you can do to step out of the thought-cycle is to slowly allow your mind to calm down. To make it a peaceful place. When a worrying thought comes into your mind, recognize it as untrue, recognize it as just a thought, and create peace inside your mind.

That is the only thing you should do. It doesn't matter what your body is feeling because of the thoughts you have already entertained, what matters is that you restore the peace inside your mind. Accept that the body is uncomfortable right now and concentrate only on the mind. When you create peace in the mind, your body will soon follow.

The body only reacts to its center of intelligence, which is the mind. If the body is in distress because of the thoughts in the mind, the only way to remedy that is to calm the mind, to work with the thoughts inside of it.

So, to sum it up, always aim to have a peaceful mind. Whatever happens, a mind at peace will always be your ally. And all the worrying thoughts your mind sometimes wants to think? The only thing those do is make you feel bad. They were never true anyway.

A guided meditation on the topic can be listened to here

"If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought." - Peace Pilgrim

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June 24, 2016

Shut Up, Mind! The Cycle of Bad Feelings and How to Come Out of It

Have you ever screamed at yourself in your head? Have you ever yelled at your mind to just shut up? I know I have.

Sometimes it feels like there is a really annoying person living in our heads, who just won't stop talking.

So what can we do with this voice? First of all, we can ask the following question: Who is that voice?

There is one person that does the thinking--us. And there the unbearable person in our minds. That seems like two selves. But we can't have two selves now, can we? One of those has to be fake.

We might want to call the annoying voice the illusory self. The very first step is to recognize it.

You are not the illusory self.

The name already suggests that this self, this voice, is not real. It is a delusion, so to speak. When we recognize that, it can give us an enormous sense of peace.

It's a great realization--to know that we don't have to listen to it, because it's lying. We can be at peace despite of its ramblings.

Peace is every step.

When it comes to everyday life and making this peaceful realization permanent, we have to put in a little more effort. Walking in peace is a lifestyle.

With thoughts, feelings also arise. And those feelings are not so easy to shake off or ignore. If we notice the thought that causes them, we can stop the process before it even begins, but sometimes, we are not successful, and that's okay.

What makes feelings worse is that we keep feeding them with more thoughts. The feeling validates the thoughts and vice versa. The feeling makes us believe that the thoughts must be real.

If we knew for sure that the voice was lying, we would be at peace.

That is the hardest part and needs practice. Because the illusory self can be damn persuasive. We need to practice not believing it. Recognizing its cycle and stepping out of it.

A lot of people say that they know they shouldn't be angry or anxious or jealous, because it makes no sense, but they still are. And that means that they still believe the thought that causes them to feel that way. If they didn't, the feeling would subside.

When I'm anxious, the feelings slowly goes away when I understand that the thought in my head is not reality. But if I don't, the feeling stays. Because what we believe will remain our reality.

The now is full of wonder.

So, practice not believing the voice. What is in the mind is not real. What's around you is. The air you breath in and out. The sunshine or the rain on your skin. The embrace of your loved one.

The now is filled with so many beautiful and wondrous things. Do we really want to worry in an imaginary land rather that notice all the magic around us?

You don't need to prepare, you don't need to worry, you don't need to keep thinking and thinking. You need to be here, now. With open eyes and a clear mind. That is what's real. That is what's true.

Right now, I encourage you to smile. You can, right? It was not that hard. I encourage you look at the light seeping in through the window. To feel the love you have for someone deep in that secret place inside you. These are always there, around you, waiting for you to leave that yapping voice behind. Unlike the voice, they will always be true.

“Life isn't as serious as the mind makes it out to be.” - Eckhart Tolle

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June 17, 2016

Uncomfortable Feelings: How to Deal With Them the Mindful Way

We don't always feel happy and joyful. We don't even feel comfortable all of the time. Sometimes we feel uncomfortable. And that uncomfortable feeling, whatever it may be, can stay with us for longer periods of time.

What I've learned in these past couple of years is that no matter how much we meditate or practice mindfulness, we will never cease to be human. And being human comes with its own collection of feelings that we cannot go around or avoid. And mindfulness is not about avoidance anyway.

It might seem like a great promise to learn a skill and never have to worry about feeling uncomfortable feelings again. That would sound tempting for any human being, I'm sure.

Some might assume that mindfulness and meditation bring just that, but being mindful does not mean the absence of the uncomfortable. It means the unconditional acceptance of it.

Buddha said there are two kinds of suffering: the kind that leads to more suffering and the kind that brings an end to suffering.

Our inner world is very similar to the outer world. Our feelings are like people. I remember my mom's advice when I was bullied in school. She told me not to react to the bullies. That they would lose interest in me if I don't give them the reaction they wanted. And it was exactly as my mother had said. Once I stopped caring about what they were saying, or at least they thought I did, they moved on. I became boring. I produced nothing they could feed on.

Feelings are very similar. If we react to them, they cling to us like bacteria--our reaction is what they feed on. But once we accept their existence and not really care about them, they move on. There is nothing left for them to feed on.

Mindfulness, to me, is just that--learning how not to feed our feelings, so they can move on. Learning to accept the uncomfortable as a part of life and not wanting it to be different. Not thinking it's the end of the world or that there's something wrong with us. Knowing that everything is as it should be. And making peace with that world inside of us.

When we try to banish something from our inner world or reject it, chase it away, it will only come back stronger--and that's how we start war inside of us. Just like in the outer world, there is no peace without acceptance and love. As long as there is hostility toward anyone or anything, there will never be peace. Both inside and outside of us.

When I started practicing mindfulness and meditation a couple of years ago, I thought that, with time, it will slowly eliminate all the uncomfortable feelings inside me, and they will never surface again. Every time I felt uncomfortable, I felt guilty, because I thought it wasn't supposed to happen. I was supposed to be happy and peaceful all the time. My thoughts, once again, failed me--I shouldn't have been thinking, labeling, judging at all.

It is not about removing all that is uncomfortable. It's about being able to accept the uncomfortable with peace. Without judgement. Without wishing it were different. Or thinking it should be different.

Because, my dear friends, we cannot change the uncomfortable neither inside nor outside of us. Painful feelings and hurtful people will always exist. But if we can accept them with peace and love, they might just change into something more beautiful themselves. If not, we will always have our own peace behind it all.

“Meditation is not about feeling a certain way. It's about feeling the way you feel.” - Jon Kabat-Zinn

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June 10, 2016

A Reminder For Hard Times

I often hear people say that they "have lost their light," or something that means that they used to be peaceful or happy or whatever they aspire to be, and now they aren't. So now they are sad. And they are trying to find their way back to how they used to be.

It's not only the negative we label.

I have felt like that too. But then I realized that, like so many other things, being "peaceful" and "happy" is also a label. And we already know that we cannot fit under labels.

We all have our own ideas about how happiness looks like. So are our ideas about happiness really what happiness is, or is happiness something completely different, something not definable by thought?

Different things make different people happy. That is clear. But there are also many people who chase their ideas about happiness only to discover that those ideas will never really make them happy.

My point is: We know nothing. So it's pointless to cling to our ideas about anything.

Change is constant.

When we are living a "peaceful and happy" period in our lives, that is just a label in our minds. When that period changes--and it always does--we wish for it to come back, willing our sadness or anxiety away in the process. Because that's not "peaceful and happy."

Peace does not mean perfect.

For us to be content, things around us don't have to be perfect. You can be at peace in sadness, you can be at peace during times of anxiety. Because you have already learned that--just like the "good" times--it will pass.

It might seem like other people have got everything together and they are in a constant good mood, but, again, that is just a label in your mind. Everyone goes through easier times then more challenging times, and that never stops. Not for anyone.

You cannot lose who you are.

So please don't ever think you have lost who you are. You can never lose it. Feelings and thoughts are not who you are--you are that constant presence underneath it all.

Happiness might not even be something we can define for ourselves. Even in the most extreme circumstances, man has shown that it's possible to be peaceful. It's possible to smile.

Your light is not something you can lose. It will always remain glistening inside you, even when you can't see it, or feel its warmth. But when the storm passes, and it always does, it might just glow brighter than ever before.

“Peace begins with a smile.” - Mother Teresa

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