The Human Mind is a wonderful masterpiece that has immense potentials. Most of the potentials, however, remain unused at most people, since it is not us who are in charge of things, our Mind takes control of us. Our Mind is rushing through life with us like a car running without a driver, causing us constant suffering and sorrow. But if we were able to control our Mind, our life would change completely. This mad speeding would change into a beautiful, creative dance, giving us happiness, instead of pain. The question is therefore, how we are able to take control over our Mind?

The Nature of the Mind

In order to control something, we first need to know the thing concerned¸ so we must know our Mind so as to be in charge of it. The most important thing we need to about our Mind is that it is not something that exists separately, individually, like some inanimate object. The Mind is not an object–it is a process. The process of constantly streaming thoughts. This stream of the thoughts is what we perceive as the Mind. When these thoughts disappear, the Mind disappears with them, as the two are only able to exist together. The very basic nature of thoughts is that they are in a constant move, and this motion, almost automatically, creates the Mind.

A characteristic feature of our Mind is that it keeps roaming, wandering; it operates in something like an automatic mode. Thoughts come and go all the time. If we attempt to suppress them, it is only possible with considerable efforts, and even then to a short time only. In most of our waking time, our Mind wanders either in the past or in the future, in our thoughts we deal with our experience of the past, offences we suffered in the past, or with our future plans, goals and fears.

Another characteristic of our Mind is that it constantly evaluates things. It means that we do not simply live through our experiences, but we also categorize them as good or bad. We judge everything that happens to us and everybody we meet in our lives. This permanent categorization may easily lead to a distorted perception of the world, as we evaluate our new experiences in these categories. If we find an experience negative, we will tend to keep–and reinforce–that category for similar experiences in the future. Our perception will therefore be selective, and we will only accept the stimuli that reinforces our categorization, and we tend to ignore those that fall outside our usual categories.

The third important characteristic of the Mind is that it permanently produces stories. These stories often have a disastrous end. For instance, I suddenly try to remember whether I locked the door of my home or not. The Mind immediately fabricates a whole story around the idea: I did leave it open, a burglar came, my valuables have been stolen, and the police, instead of chasing the thief, will harass me with their questions. We often experience the ends and emotional consequences of these stories. Another type of stories deals with us, who are we, what are we like, what we should do or should have done. The entirety of these stories comprises our personal histories.

A Foolish Game

Most people tend to identify with their thoughts and personal histories, that is, with their Minds. A lot of us are not satisfied with what we are, and we would like to have a better and more beautiful personal history. That is why we create a mental image of our desired personal development, and the ways of making the work of our Minds more effective.

In order to achieve the mental image we ourselves have created, we embark on a foolish game, as we attempt to bring our Minds under our own control, and be the masters of our own development. Since we do not know the nature of the Mind, this venture is destined to failure right from the beginning.

This game is foolish, since in fact one half of the Mind attempts to bring the other half under control. Our Mind itself deems our own mental image of our personal development good. At the same time, this half of the Mind deems the other half, the one we wish to change, bad. Mental images fight against each other, trying to overcome each other, using the weapons of selective perception and story fabrication. The struggle goes on, with changing luck, all through our lives. Sometimes we believe that we are making some progress, we are improving, and a few weeks, months or years later we drop into the abyss of despair.

A lot of us play this foolish game all through our lives, because we are unable to recognize the simple fact that a Mind is unable to overcome itself. We may, perhaps, with the utmost effort, suppress what we believe is bad in us. That is, however, just a virtual victory, leading us to virtual calm and personal development, because when our power declines, the suppressed forces break out again, destroying all the temporary results that we achieved previously, washing away the results of our personal development.

The Freedom of Tolerance

Now we can see that the way leading to our control over our Minds does not lead through suppressing them. It is not possible to control the Mind in the ordinary sense of the word. Partly because it only exists in its functions and operation, and partly because there is nobody to control it. One half of the Mind, as we have seen, does not control, only suppresses the other half.

In order to be able to control our Minds, we must step outside of them. This statement may sound surprising to a lot of us, since we tend to fully identify with our Minds and their operations. As long as this identification is strong, we shall not be able to step outside the crazy dance of our Minds; we will have to merely suffer its consequences.

Nowadays, however, more and more of us begin to realize and experience that we are more than our Minds, more that our thoughts and emotions, and the personal history these thoughts and emotions build up. Our attention is no longer completely engaged by telling our personal history and identifying with that personal history, and we become more and more sensitive to the deeper dimensions of our life. We also begin to notice the breaks between thoughts, and we begin to turn towards these gates leading beyond the Mind.

In these breaks between thoughts, Mind does not work, it is not there–it simply vanishes. What is left there is the alertly watching Consciousness. If we are able to take roots in that alert Consciousness, we recognize that this watching alertness is tolerant with the Mind and its operations. We shall see that there is nothing wrong with thoughts, nothing wrong with the operations of the Mind. It is not necessary to struggle against the Mind, as it is not an enemy, only an instrument that, without control, tends to function chaotically.

We only have a chance to know the true nature of thoughts and the functions of the Mind if we detach ourselves from them, keep a distance, and do not consider them as enemies. They will reveal their secrets to the alert Consciousness, watching with affection, and we will see the subtle shades of the Mind, the games it plays and the dreams it evokes.

Controlling the Mind

This tolerant, alert, watching attitude to the functions of the Mind will give us the ability of stopping our thinking effortlessly. Once thinking has been suspended, the continuous stream of thoughts stops, the Mind itself disappears and stops working.

Now we shall not seek our own identity in an identification with the Mind, since we have found our real center, our real self, our alertly watching Consciousness. We will be aware that thoughts and the Mind have not really disappeared, they are still there, only in a dormant state. Our attitude to thoughts and the Mind will entirely change at that moment. We think when necessary, and we do not need the Mind, we put it aside. The Mind no longer dominates our life, it is not more than an obedient tool that we use or not use as we please.

That is when we realize how wonderful an instrument the Mind is, and now we are able to use it for its original purpose. And the purpose of the Mind is to serve as a means of connections, to connect us to the world, to each other. Through the Mind, used with alert Consciousness, creative energies are released to the world, and create a wonderful harmony there.

Original source: The Mind Unleashed

Learn more here>> Frank M. WandererThe Revolution of Consciousness: Deconditioning the Programmed Mind

With better self-control, we can eat healthier, do more exercise, reduce and quit smoking and alcohol, stop being procrastinators and achieve the goals we want.

In recent years a large body of research has been developed to explain many aspects of the power of will. Most of the researchers are investigating self-control with an obvious goal in mind: How the power of will can be strengthened?

If the power of will has limited potential -as the research suggests, what can we do in order to maintain it?

Avoiding temptation is an effective tactic for maintaining self-control

In Walter Mischel’s study with the sweets (in which preschool children had a choice between eating a candy right away or waiting for an indefinite period of time for two sweets), the children who looked directly at the sweet were less likely to resist than the children who closed their eyes, turned to the other side or drew their attention in some way. The principle of I don’t see it, so it doesn’t exist in my mind applies to adults, as well.

A recent study, for example, found that office workers who had put a candy in a drawer of their office kept their self-control more than when they had the candy on their desks, in open view.

Another useful tactic for improving self-control is a technique that psychologists call “an intention to fulfill”

Usually, these intentions take the form of “if-then” statements which help people design situations that are likely to neutralize their determination. For example, a woman who monitors her alcohol consumption could say to herself before a party: If someone offers me a drink, then I’ll ask for soda with lemon.

Research among adolescents and adults has found that fulfillment intentions improve self-control, even among people whose power of will is depleted by laboratory work. If you have come up with a plan, you will be able to make immediate decisions without using your willpower.

Research suggests that we have limited self-control when posing a worrying issue

When we face too many temptations, are we doomed to fail? Not necessarily.

Researchers do not believe that the power of one’s will is ever exhausted. On the contrary, people seem to keep a part of their will in the reserve, keeping it for future demands. The right incentive allows us to use these reserves, which make us insist even when our self-control is exhausted.

In a test of this idea, Mark Muraven found that people who had exhausted their willpower insisted on a self-control work when told that they would be paid for their efforts or that their efforts would benefit others (such as helping to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease). The high motivation, he concludes, could help overcome the weakened willpower – at least to one point.

Researchers studying self-control often describe it as a muscle that gets tired with heavy use. But there is another aspect in the proportion of muscle, they say. While muscles are exhausted from exercise in the short term, they are strengthened by regular exercise on a long-term basis. Similarly, when you exercise your self-control regularly, you may be able to improve your willpower.

In one of the first trials of this idea, Muraven and his colleagues asked volunteers to follow a two-week treatment regimen to monitor their food intake, improve their mood, or improve their attitudes. Compared to a control group, the participants who had exercised their own self-control by doing the tasks assigned to them were less vulnerable to the consumption of willpower in subsequent follow-up laboratory examinations.

In another study, he found that smokers who had been exercising self-control for two weeks, avoiding sweets or regularly pressing a handheld device for the palm, were more successful at stopping smoking than the control group who did normal work for two weeks and didn’t require self-control, like writing in a diary.

Others have also found that physical exercise is related to the power of will and can enhance self-control over time

Australian scientists Megan Oaten, Ph.D., and Ken Cheng, Ph.D., of Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, have assigned to volunteers a two-month physical exercise program -a routine that required willpower. At the end of the two months, the participants who remained in the program had better performance in a self-control test than the participants who were not given the exercise treatment.

And the results do not end there. Patients also reported that they smoked less and drank less alcohol, ate healthy food, watched their expenses more carefully, and improved the habits of their study. Regular exercise of the power of will with physical activity seemed to lead to a better control in almost all areas of their lives.

Findings that claim that will power is linked to glucose levels also suggest a possible solution

Regular consumption of food to maintain blood sugar levels in the brain can help to supply degraded parts of the will (But do not let the term “sugar” trick you out. Healthy meals without processed sugar are actually better than sweets in maintaining blood sugar levels in balance, experts say). Those who make a diet and aiming to maintain the power of will, as they will reduce their calories, they could do this better by often eating small meals instead of skipping breakfast or lunch.

Evidence from studies of the decrease in willpower also suggests that the design of a New Year’s Eve list is the worst possible approach. The exhaustion you may feel in a field can reduce the power of will in other areas, so it makes more sense to focus on one goal at a time.

In other words, do not try to stop smoking, adopt a healthy diet and start a new exercise program at the same time. The best approach is to set a goal at a time. As soon as a good habit takes root, Baumeister says, you should now draw from the power of your will to maintain the behavior. In the end, healthy habits will become routine and you will not be required at all to make decisions about them.

Many questions about the nature of self-control remain to be answered by further research. However, it seems likely that with clear goals, good self-monitoring, and a little practice, you can train your power of will to stay strong in the face of temptation.

H/T: psychologynow.gr, with references from American Psychological Association.

Photo credits: alessandroinnocenti.wordpress.com

How to train your mind to stop overthinking and analyzing everything.

The analysis of things and circumstances before we move into action is, of course, a good habit. However, the crucial question here is… when do we stop overthinking and start acting?

Those who tend to focus constantly on all possible negative outcomes, and in order to avoid them, they continue to look for answers or alternatives. But the reality is that there will always be unknown variables, uncertainty, and risk in every situation.

Focusing on things you can’t fully control can cause you anxiety and give space to negative emotions. It also prevents you constantly from living in the present. When researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara showed images of kaleidoscopic colors to participants, and then checked their memory capacity, they found that those who guessed went better than the participants who spent enough time trying to remember the colors and patterns.

Overthinking about something does not automatically mean that it will lead to certain answers. Therefore, below are some ways to train your mind to stop overthinking everything.

1. Feel comfortable with the factor “uncertainty”

In any given situation, there are certain things you know and some other that you can’t predict. When you overanalyzing, your brain concentrates on the uncertain parts of the situation and tries to decode them. It is always looking for answers, but the truth is that some questions can’t be answered. The obsessive focus on uncertainty will eventually lead to stress and confusion.

When we think too much, we usually ask questions like, “I wonder if my boss thinks I’m a hardworking worker,” or “Why did he say that to me?” Such questions can be answered if they are made directly to the person they are concerned with. And if this can’t be done, just tell yourself that it is not bad not to know all the answers.

2. See the big picture

The experiment mentioned a little above showed that a more broad overview was more helpful in recalling complex images. You can apply the same technique, by training your brain to internalize all the details directly, rather than focusing too much on individual pieces. The process resembles the viewing of a table from a long distance, rather than very close, where we can only focus on a piece of the work.

One way to learn to stop overthinking is to get a picture book and open it to a random page. Then look at a picture for 5 seconds, and then close the book. Once you close it, try to remember everything you saw. This exercise prevents the brain from overestimating or analyzing. You will be surprised by how many things you can finally remember. Practice this trick regularly and you will see that your brain starts to think faster.

3. Be aware of your negative thoughts

If you are reading this article, you are more likely to be aware of your thought patterns and know that overanalysis doesn’t take you anywhere.

Research has shown that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can help us feel more empathy for ourselves and reduce the negative feelings associated with overthinking. People who followed this treatment reported that the stress associated with their thoughts reduced. You can practice mindfulness, so that you are more aware of the present, instead of sinking into negative and stressful thoughts about the past or the future.

4. Start with something you can control

If you think too much of a particular situation, the best move you can make is finding something that you can really control and start working on it. For example, if you are worried about planning a wedding, instead of thinking about everything that could go wrong, record all the things you can do to make the ceremony successful. When you record them, you will see that you will feel more confident because your brain doesn’t need to overanalyze them over and over.

You can always refer to your list to check some points instead of relying purely on your memory. Similarly, investigate everything that concerns and worry you and record what you can work for. Then, add the practical steps you need to follow and erase them as you move forward. In this way, you will begin to focus more on action than on overthinking.

H/T: Power of Positivity

Are you looking for ways to regain your mental strength and self-control?

Sometimes, people from our environment exert power over us and affect the way we think, feel and behave. For example, one at work may make us angry or, on the contrary, inspire us. Also, our partner may determine the mood we have. When we let ourselves be influenced by others, we become mentally weak. To take control of our lives in our hands, we should build a wall around us that keeps away thoughts that affect us. To see positive changes, we must learn the ways in which we can get back our mental strength.

Here are seven ways to take back the control of yourself and your mental strength:

1. Stop complaining about everything

There is a gap between complaining and problem-solving. Making complaints about your problems to people close to you, you focus on them and become disoriented from finding solutions. Whimpering shows that you have no authority over the situation that is causing the problem and that you don’t have the proper mental strength to concentrate in order to solve it.

2. Get responsibility about how you feel

Do not let the behavior of others to dictate how you feel. When other people make you feel bad or bring you out of your limits, you admit that they have power over how you feel. Tell yourself that you’re the only one who has the right to manage your emotions, regardless of the behavior of others.

3. Forgive for real

Having grudge against someone who has hurt you, you don’t punish them, instead, you are hurting yourself. When you lose valuable time considering someone who wronged us, we lose the opportunity to enjoy the moment.

Forgiveness is the best way to get back your mental strength. To forgive doesn’t mean you accept whatever the other person caused, but that you get rid of the bad thoughts and the anger you feel which interferes with your ability to enjoy life freely.

4. Identify your values

When you don’t know exactly what your gifts are, there is the risk of becoming a helpless passenger, not the certain driver of your own life. You’re getting on the ship of people who lead their own ideas and you can easily end up on the wrong course. Take back your power, identify your values and live according to what is important to you.

5. Stop victimizing yourself

Saying things like, “I have to work 60 hours this week” or “I had no alternative than to say yes,” shows that you are the victim of unfortunate circumstances. Although there are certainly consequences of the decisions you make, admit to yourself that you always have options.

6. Be independent of the opinions of other people

If your personal value depends on how much others appreciate you, you probably will be an emotional beggar. It’s impossible to be likable to everyone, or everyone to agree with your lifestyle. Evaluate the criticism you receive, but never allow the opinion of another person to determine your personal value.

7. Be willing to stand out from the crowd

Hesitation, shame, and fear can make you become one with those around you. Being one with the crowd will force you to hide who you really are. Trust yourself and your mental strength, dare to separate from the crowd by being different.

H/T: Share24

We live in a society that pressures us to think positive every time. In fact, even articles on this website talk about the importance of positive thinking.

Don’t get me wrong, positive thinking is great and can lead to a happier and more fulfilled life, but what about those pesky negative emotions that tend to come up from time to time?

Do we squash and ignore them with positive thinking? Do we feel guilty and ashamed for thinking negative?

If you resonated with those questions, chances are you are not alone.

Today, we are often made to feel guilty or “less than” if we are experiencing or entertaining negative thoughts.

Even in the spiritual community our negative thoughts can be chalked up to our ego, which can simply be released with a couple of conscious breaths….right?

Well, I am here to tell you that doesn’t always work.

Anger, pain and negative thinking are all necessary and important emotions that need to be valued and sometimes, need more attention than just a few deep breaths (although those can always help).

Anger, pain and negative thinking help us to express who we are and allow us to actually have a healthier state of mind. (I’ll explain more on this later.)

In fact, one of my favourite quotes by Anita Moorjani goes-

“It is more important to be yourself than it is to be positive.”

Many researchers believe that negative thinking is a sign of a healthier mind, as it is the way the body protects itself and alerts us to the fact that something is wrong.

Often when we feel anger, or depressed, it is our body’s way of letting us know that something is not right and something needs to be fixed.

Often when negative emotions are suppressed and covered with a smile, we create more resistance and push our negative emotions deeper within our body.

In time, this causes more stress, more anxiety and prolonged feelings of depression.

While you never want negative emotions to float around all the time, when they do come up it is really important to acknowledge and love them for what they are.

It is also really important to listen to them and try to understand what your mind, body and soul may be trying to communicate to you.

In fact, think of all your emotions as the way that your entire being communicates with you. Think of your emotions as your compass for how to navigate through this life and make changes or adjustments.

Often when we feel anger or other negative emotions, it is usually because on a deeper level we are feeling pain.

It is easier to feel anger and other surface emotions instead of pain, which is why we sometimes journey into those emotions and stay there.

Only until the pain is truly released can we be free of the anger and negative thinking.

Watch: Manage Your Anger

And we can only do this when we learn how to feel ok with our anger and other negative emotions.

You can achieve this by-

  1. Not being afraid of your negative thoughts and understanding that the Universe is not going to punish you for having them.
  2. Using negative thoughts as a reminder or sign that something is not right with your body, mind or soul and that something may need to be addressed.
  3. Accepting your negative emotions and allowing yourself to feel them without shame or guilt.
  4. Understanding that your negative emotions are not about you or other people, and is instead tied to a situation.
  5. Owning your negative thoughts, but then also owning the fact that you need to do something about them.

Wallowing in your own negativity is ok for a short period, but if you don’t start to shift the energy and work on healing yourself, it is just going to lead you to feeling more miserable.

One of the most powerful ways you can cut through your anger and negativity is to sit in it and allow yourself to really, really feel it with no resistance.

When you do this, you give yourself the opportunity to identify where it is coming from and how you can go about making some changes.

Another effective tool is to ask yourself- What I feeling hurt about? As often under negative emotions there is always some type of pain.

And finally, the golden rule for dealing with negativity is asking yourself-

“If I loved myself what would I do in this situation?”

This post was originally published at foreverconscious.com

By Tanaaz