In the space between undisciplined and obsessive, lies the balanced mind that comes from a daily practice of meditation. One cannot learn to manage the chaos of thought without practice — and thoughts are precursors for many of our feelings and behaviors. Therefore, one of the most important endeavors we can undertake to affect our outcomes is to learn how the mind works. In an undisciplined mind, we go out into the world and encounter whatever is before us, whatever captures our interest — and in goes the material that ultimately makes up the content of our brain memory. For an extreme example, suppose we encounter constant hostility in our environment. If this happens, our brain becomes wired with the repeated exposure and the basis of our natural behavior can turn into paranoia. Primal fight or flight systems are on constant alert. The brain does this for good reason. We are designed to adapt and survive in any environment we encounter for the ultimate survival of the species. But here’s the rub. Not every environment we encounter is the same — so what we grew up experiencing may not be the same as what we encounter later. In a safer place, fight or flight is not the necessarily the optimal response. And despite fear in our past, our brain can be retrained to thrive in a better climate. Fear brings out our least developed aspects. Inner strength enables our most virtuous aspects to flower and bloom. So…what if we were more careful about what we collect in our sensory perceptions? What if we sought more quiet, more good words, more respectful interactions. Wouldn’t we be able to re-program our brain for a better life?
Tilt 365 Weekly Challenge: This week, I will train my mind to focus on what’s most important and feed strength, not fear.
Avoiding Obsession (Overuse):
Our thoughts can sometimes feed the monster of obsession too. If we notice ourselves obsessing about something — it is usually a thought from the past or a fear about the future. This is why daily mindfulness practices that keep our attention on the present moment are habits worth forming. Whenever we follow a trail of thought about what might have been or what we must do in the future, there is a danger that we can become obsessive and overuse discipline to our detriment. If we are working 10 hour days, it might be a sign that we are obsessing and running from the past or trying to control the future. Being mindful doesn’t mean getting this perfect, it simply means noticing and moving back into the present. Right now is the most important time. We can change what goes into our brain by choosing where our attention goes. Because what we put our attention on will form the fabric of our brain and alter all of our life outcomes. And where the eyes go frequently, so follows the potential for our next obsessive action.
Commendable Trait: Disciplined