No Matter What You Want To Be Or Do, Let Mind Be An Ally. Know Your Mind-Habits.
# 9 STICKY MIND-HABIT.
“I have quit my job and have a family and although I am making some money – it is not enough and worry wakes me up in the middle of the night – How can I get rid of it?”
– Indeed career transition can be a challenging affair. When we loose our jobs we also loose our daily structure of waking up and going to work, our sense of “identity” and also our network of colleagues and team mates. So it can impact us at many levels including financial. In that sense it is a ‘heroic journey’ – borrowing a term from J. Campbell. Having said that, in what ways does that feeling (worry) serve you?
“That is a strange way of putting it, but when I think about it, last week when I felt that way, I realized that there was much to be done and I really put my efforts behind my job-search and accomplished a lot.”
– So, if I understand you correctly, that feeling was helpful in some ways. It delivered some message. So why to get rid of the messenger?
“But it confuses me and takes away a lot of energy”.
– Does it? Or is something else that is happening?
“I am now confused. I don’t know”.
– Well the emotion/messenger (worry) delivers a message (that there is work to be done – you need to put more effort behind your job-search). Now, that is information – useful feedback. Nothing to be rid of, right?
– But what happens immediately after this thought crosses the mind? Not a second later, but immediately following this primary thought?
“I get stuck with it. My mind begins to churn out additional thoughts that may not be helpful and may even take away the helpfulness of the initial original thought”.
– Like what?
“Like, your money is not enough. It is soon gonna run out and your savings will wither away. Your wife will leave you and take the children with her. You will become poor and miserable and soon become homeless without a family and ….”
– Wow! That is one creative mind – would you not agree? It weaves up imaginative stories. It is playing god – as if it knows it all. While there may be a glimmer of truth to its story or narrative, one would do well to not get stuck/hijacked with its “dooming” prophecy – rather weight/discern its message for what it is worth. Have you noticed how easily we loose ourselves in mind stories?
Wisdom Teaching From Non-Stick Frying Pan
Just like a NON-STICK FRYING PAN that cooks up what is thrown at it without getting STUCK – Can one observe and investigate the rising thoughts without getting stuck? When we loose ourselves in the narratives the situation gets hot and sticky – we are fried!.
How Do I Know I AM Stuck?
This may sound odd, however, since for most of us (including truly yours) our ordinary state of mind is that of infusion with the torrent of repetitive mindbody numbing thoughts – and this has been going on for a long long time – we may not be able to easily identify when we are lost in thoughts, at least not at the beginning. To know that one is stuck – is indeed the beginning of liberation. The beginning of waking up from the spell of daytime “sleep walking”. A great cause for celebration.
Some Strategies for Frequent Fliers
If you are a “frequent flier” like most of us and are often carried away by thoughts for long long rides, you can begin to hone your sensitivity and unstuck yourself with practice. Here are some suggestions that you may find helpful.
1. try to enlist the support of someone you trust to gently ground you once in a while. They can help by non-judgmentally reminding you if they suspect you have zoned out.
2. If that option is not available you can set your wrist watch to beep on the hour and then try to centre yourself by brining your attention to the breath, with a few conscious breath at the level of abdomen.
3. You could also benefit from regular formal practice in self-awareness.
Find a quiet place, somewhere that you will not be interrupted by phone, email, people … for 10 minutes – set the alarm for 10 minutes. Sit on a chair with your back straight and eyes gently closed. Bring your attention to the felt-sensation of breath in your body and each time your breath in and out, count that cycle as one silently. Count up to 5 and then start again at 1. If you get stuck or carried away with thoughts or images and forgot to count your breath – as soon as you recognise this, gently come back and start counting from 1 again, without judging yourself.
It is inevitable that sooner or later a thought or an image will distract you again – no problem, start counting back from 1.