Have you ever just sat still for a while and watched all the thoughts that constantly pour into your mind? I have, and I have noticed that virtually all of my thoughts are actually fearful thoughts. Now, some of my thoughts are very obviously fearful. For example, one morning, I forget where I have left my keys, and the fearful thought ‘Maybe this is the start of dementia?’ just pops uninvited into my mind. But other thoughts that pop into my mind uninvited are less obviously fearful and I have had to dig a bit deeper to see how even relatively innocuous thoughts can contain seeds of fear.
For example, I have discovered that virtually all of my thoughts about the future contain a fearful ‘What if?’ in there somewhere. I might be fantasising about the great summer holiday I am going to have for example, and a ‘What if the flight is delayed?’ pops up out of nowhere and then generates a twinge of fearful energy in my system.
After many years of practising mindfulness, I am now more and more aware that every thought we entertain creates a whoosh of energy throughout our whole system. For example, if you have the thought ‘There is a snake lying in the grass right in front of me’ that thought will almost instantaneously create a wave of fearful energy that will in turn create a response of some kind in your physical body.
On the other hand, if you have the thought, ‘Wow that guy/girl is gorgeous!’ a very different kind of energy will flood your system! So it is becoming clear to me that all our thoughts create energy waves in our bodies and that some of these energy waves are positive and life-supporting, whilst others are negative, and in the long-run, destructive.
Yet our society as a whole does not yet seem to get the fundamental fact of life that our habitual thoughts create a either positive or negative energy field in and around us. This energy field then significantly influences our long-term health and well-being. Our society now pays so much attention to how our diet influences our health, but it pays virtually no attention to the fact that our habitual thoughts also play an extremely important role in determining our overall long-term health and well-being.
If we habitually dwell on really fearful problems in our lives, we can even become seriously depressed or anxious, whereas if we train our minds to dwell more or less constantly on thoughts of love, compassion, gratitude and peace, we can eventually become one of the happiest individuals on the planet, regardless of how challenging our lives may seem to be.
Of course, no one ever said that it is easy to change our minds from generating endless fearful or angry thoughts to generating only loving, kind, compassionate thoughts. In fact, it is so difficult to do this that some serious Buddhist practitioners lock themselves away from the world for many years meditating for many, many hours each day in order to master their minds.
Thankfully, I am convinced that we do not need to take such drastic action to master our own mind. It may take us a bit longer than Buddhist Lamas, but I am pretty sure that if we keep committing to some kind of very regular mindfulness practice, such as a daily meditation, we will make real progress towards mastering our own fearful, judgemental minds.
We just need to make an unbreakable commitment to take some regular time out from our hyper-busy modern lives to sit still and observe our own minds, until we gradually learn how to calm our mind enough to dwell in a state of inner peace for a while. Then, when we come out of this incredibly blissful, deep meditative state, we still need to mindfully observe our thinking so that we can quickly delete any fearful or angry thoughts from our system before they start to do us lasting damage.
We all tend to keep believing that our endlessly troubled world is the key reason that we cannot live in peace and harmony 24/7. But all the great spiritual masters have told us that the answer to all of our apparent problems lies within our own minds. Master your mind, and you master the world! It may take us many, many years of being mindful before we totally get this deep truth about life, but every effort that we make to ignore all our fearful thoughts or to replace each fearful thought that we notice with a compassionate, loving thought really does count.