I've shared before that I have a notebook in which I write my realizations, mostly ones that come to me during meditation. I often scan through these notebooks when I'm going through a hard time, and they never fail to give me guidance, put my mind at ease and show me where I need to turn.
These notebooks are one of my few valued material possessions. They allow me to keep my mind empty--even if I forget a useful realization, a conclusion I have come to, I know that all I have to do is open these notebooks, and all the wisdom I have already learned is at my fingertips.
We learn so much throughout life depending on the experiences we go through. But these experiences change daily, we ourselves change daily, the guidance we need changes daily--it's only natural to forget some of the lessons we have learned.
I strongly advise you to keep a similar journal. It's like your own, personal self-help book that you know will never fail to give you an answer.
Anyway, there are a couple of entries in my journals that I always find extra helpful, and that's what I want to share with you all today. These couple of pointers are always enough for me to return to peace, whatever situation I find myself in.
1. Throw out the mind
No thinking allowed. There is actually a post-it note hanging above my computer screen that has this sentence written on it with capital letters. I've had it here for more than two years now.
Most of our problems only exist in the mind. If we stop thinking about them--poof--they disappear.
Sedatives also work like this--they cleanse the thoughts from your mind, leaving you calm and happy.
It is possible to reach the same effect by practicing emptying the mind. Concentrate on the now, on the breath, they all guide you toward the same thing: an empty mind.
You can even create a small ritual for yourself in the morning by symbolically pouring a full glass of water into the sink during which you decide to spend your day with a clear, empty mind.
If you need to keep things in mind, like we all do, just write them down in your planner--no need to store them in the mind.
2. Don't take anything seriously
We can be such drama queens and kings, seriously. Feeling sorry for ourselves, worrying about the smallest things. If you think about it in the grand scheme of things, nothing is really serious.
The reason you feel sorry for yourself, the event you're worried about--what if it happened to someone else, what if a stranger was in your shoes: what would you think about them? Most of the time, when certain things happen to others, it's not such a big deal in our eyes, but when the same thing happens to us, it's the most serious event ever.
Everything is neutral. It's easier to see that when things happen to others rather than us. Practice seeing how nothing is really serious, even if it happens to you.
3. It's just a thought
A thought can only hurt you if you believe it. Like I said in my first point, the key to peace is an empty mind. But letting go of thoughts can be real hard.
When I worry about something, I always make myself see that it's just a thought, and that means that it's not real, it cannot hurt me. Being "just a thought" means that I can let it go, because I have no need for it, it carries no reality. Tada: your mind can now be emptied, because: what's in your mind? That's right: just a thought.
4. You are who you choose to be
There are so many reasons why we could believe that we cannot be who we want to be, that we are some sort of slaves to our circumstances, our bodies, our minds. I've never been more miserable than when I believed that.
The truth is that we are only slaves if we choose to be them. We are who we choose to be, because, yes, we all have unique circumstances, unique bodies, unique minds, but we can all choose our reactions to all of them.
Our attitudes are ours to choose. This, too, like everything, requires practice. Reacting to our unpleasant circumstances, may those be external or internal, is something we have to master.
5. Peace is always an available choice
This one is the continuation of the last one: we can always choose to be at peace.
Sometimes we might think that what we have to experience in life is just so awful that we can't help feeling horrible about all of it. I remember clearly when, because of my severe anxiety, I thought that my situation was so much harder than anyone else's, and I couldn't help being an emotional wreck almost all the time.
The truth is that whatever happens to us, peace is always an available choice. I also remember the day I realized this--oh, the liberation I felt. Because I understood that, no, I cannot prevent unpleasant things from happening, but I can always choose to react to them with peace--even to my own feelings.
These were some of my favorite entries for my little wisdom journals. I hope you enjoyed them, and they gave as much guidance and peace to you as they have given me.
"Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave." - G.I. Gurdjieff