“Compassion is the radicalism of our time”
Dalai Lama XIV
I’ve been finding it difficult to write so I thought that I would cure that by writing. Much of the writing on my blog is sporadic and perhaps disjointed. Sometimes I felt like writing down my thoughts wasn’t helping me, so I would stop mid-sentence and hit delete. I think that was a valuable strategy because basically writing this blog is meant to be helpful to me. If it helps someone else that’s wonderful, but I have to be comfortable with it. Conversely, if no one reads it, and I’m comfortable with that, then that would mean my true purpose for writing is clear.
So things have continued to go well for me as long as I remember my strategies around self-talk. For me this is the focal point or anchor to remaining on track. It’s all been about retraining my brain to react in a manner that is positive for my mental health. I have not found this an easy task at all. Gil Fronsdale says it best; “We can be very loyal to the negative stories we tell ourselves”. I was certainly in that place many times. To change those negative stories requires a shift in mindset, for want of another word. So how I have I made that shift?
My self-talk really revolves around two questions. How am I reacting to stimuli that could or feels like it has the potential for another negative response? Question two is “Am I in now?
I will give an example of question one. I have an anxiety problem, its not uncommon for me to have a so-called anxiety attack. I still have them, but I respond very differently to them now. (Mostly) Where I used to be trapped in the attack, I now feel a bit like an onlooker. I monitor what’s happening to me without judgment and swing in to action with these questions. What’s this about? Is there a logical reason for my anxiety? If there is no perceived logical or even illogical reason, I know my brain is doing what it has done relentlessly over the years. But now I have an automated response that is just as relentless. Self-talk!
It can go a bit like this: “Oh No, here it comes, sweating, huge knot in the stomach, and a headache. I have to get out of here!” What, get out of the car, are the doors locked, are you trapped? “Well no, but I cant breathe, everything is closing in on me!” “So let me get this straight, the car has no air in it and as well as that the vehicle is shrinking?” “No of course not!” “So?”
Without making light of it this was how my early self-talk went. While it is a bit more nuanced now, simple questions that an onlooker might ask work for me. The next phase is how this can be a positive experience. Again the answer is simple. I’m learning about my emotions. It’s a learning opportunity. This is a chance for me to gather more information about how my mindset is going.
Mindfulness is a real buzzword in western society at the moment and I think it has been distorted and pushed and prodded, but this is but one strategy I have taken from my research.
The second question “Am In now?” may be much harder to explain. For me this quote is a pretty good starting point, and I may write more about it another day.
“There is no use planning for a future if when you get to it and it becomes the present you won’t be there! You’ll be living in some other future that hasn’t yet arrived”. Alan Watts
I love this clip.
If I’m not living for now I have a problem, because it’s always now.
“But when I reached the foot of a hill, where the valley, that had pierced my heart with fear, came to an end, I looked up and saw its shoulders brightened with the rays of that sun that leads men rightly on every road. Then the fear, that had settled in the lake of my heart, through the night that I had spent so miserably, became a little calmer. And as a man, who, with panting breath, has escaped from the deep sea to the shore, turns back towards the perilous waters and stares, so my mind, still fugitive, turned back to see that pass again, that no living person ever left.” Dante
Human potential is the same for all. Your feeling, “I am of no value”, is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought – so what are you lacking? If you have willpower, then you can change anything. It is usually said that you are your own master. Dalai Lama
‘Wan considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, recreated anew. Therefore, he understood, there is in truth no past, only a memory of the past. Blink your eyes and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.’
For those who have dwelt in depression’s dark wood and known it’s inexplicable agony, their return from the abyss is not unlike the ascent of the poet, trudging upward and upward out of hell’s black depths and at last emerging into what he saw as “the shining world.” William Styrone ‘Darkness Visible’
“If you want others to be happy practice compassion. If you want to be happy practice compassion” . Dalai Lama