By Bettina Hemmingsen
Quantum Mechanics has proven that the waves of energy or potential that make up the field of reality that we live, move and breathe in become actual time-space events when they are observed. In other words whatever we focus our attention on grows – so let me ask you how you are using your power of attention? Are you focusing on difficulties, lack and illness or are you focusing on the blessings in your life right now?
The power of attention
Realizing that we energize whatever we put our attention on, you better stop for a moment and observe the general tone of your thinking? And what is your experience? If you think carefully you will see that your experience is a perfect reflection of your focus. So when we look at the power of thinking in terms of what we focus on, we see it is all about learning to use the power of our attention wisely.The ability to choose the focus of our attention is our greatest gift. It is the gift of free will and what makes us free individuals. No one can get into another person’s mind and think for them. This is where we are always free. Each person is free in his or her own mind and each person is always the only thinker in his or her mind.
Cause and effect
Our thinking – the thoughts that we entertain- determine our experience of life. This means that our experience of reality (or life) is the result of our thoughts about life or reality – and not the result of experiencing reality itself directly. E.g. a big issue in one person’s life doesn’t matter at all to another. So our experience is always entirely subjective and based on who we are and what we believe is good or bad for us. In other words when something happens and we think it is good, we feel good about it and we experience it as good. And when something happens and we think it is bad, we feel bad about it and experience it as bad. And this has absolutely nothing to do with the event itself. The event is just the event and the way we experience events is completely determined by our thoughts. So we discover that in all situations the basic mechanism of thought (our thinking) is cause and experience is effect. The fact is that reality is what is and the rest is just thoughts in our minds. Our thoughts are not the direct experience itself, but only our interpretation of events.
Thoughts precede emotions
Reality never gives us any problems – it’s our thinking about the issues we face daily, our dealing with them, our handling of the issues. Let me put it this way – who decides what your experience of life is going to be like? Reality is neither “good” nor ”bad” it is our identification with our thoughts that makes us suffer. Thought is always the cause of our emotional thinking and only our interpretation of a certain event can make us suffer. Understanding that thought proceed emotion can also help us to understand the ways in which we are responsible for our own experience, and that we are not victims of an external force which is beyond our control, but rather that we experience and perhaps suffer from our own unconscious beliefs and programming. In fact all suffering arise from identifying with (or believing in) our thoughts that are not true and not from the reality itself.
The tyranny of thoughts
The nature of our mind is that thoughts simply arise and disappear all the time without your interfering. It just happens and there is nothing you can do to stop this constant flow of thoughts. No one knows why or where thoughts come from or what a thought is, but everyone has them and this it the nature of the human mind. Thoughts come and go on their own and it happens all the time – to all of us – in every waking hour of our life. Most people totally identify themselves with their thoughts. They think they are their thoughts and therefore they are run by them but actually there is a difference between the person who is having the thoughts and the thoughts themselves.
So if you aren’t your thoughts then who are you? If you take a moment and just focus on your thoughts you will experience thoughts arise and disappear, so obviously you can not be the thoughts since you are watching them come and go – you must be the one witnessing, watching and observing them. Once you have realized that there is a difference between you, the observer of the thoughts and the thoughts themselves, you will begin to see that you (the witness) are always present no matter the quality of the thoughts. It doesn’t make any difference what thoughts (and feelings) that arise, you are still there. In other words you are the context or field and the thoughts are simply the content of the field. Metaphorically speaking – try to imagine the observing You as a flagpole, always stable and in balance and the thoughts are the flag waving in the wind, never knowing from which direction the wind blows.
Now that you have become aware that you are not your thoughts, you can stop identifying with them and instead practice just observing them. While observing you should pay attention to the general tendency of your mental life. Do you spend a lot of time dwelling on the past? Or are you one of those people who always worry about the future? And does the thought of the future give you anxiety and sleepless nights? So much that you actually fail to notice the moment? Or do you actually notice this moment? Are you mindful enough to actually be able to focus enough on what is happening right now? Are you able to actually experience and enjoy this moment?
Once you have become aware of the general drift of your daily thinking you can begin to exercise the power of choice and begin to consciously choose what you focus on. This is why it is so important to learn to choose wisely, because we get to experience all our choices. Learning to choose wisely requires self-discipline because it means following your wisdom rather than choosing immediate pleasure. Just think about all the great leaders, athletes, musicians, artist and spiritual teachers – how did they achieve what they achieved? They used their free will to choose a course of action and then focused all their mental energy achieving their goals. The same goes for happiness, reaching deep inner happiness require a great deal of continual self-discipline and spiritual practice.
From tyranny to mastermind
Once you start observing the way you think you will discover that your mind have a tendency to move in familiar patterns and when it start moving in a certain direction it seems to continue in that direction over and over again, repeating itself – almost like a broken record. And you can not tell it to stop because when you are telling yourself to stop thinking about a specific thing you will actually think about it, that’s just the way the mind works. So the only way you can change your thinking is by replacing or substituting old thoughts and thoughts patterns with new ones. So if you are in the habit of thinking anxious, critical, fearful, negative and self-destructive thoughts, now is the time to exercise your free will and take control of your mind by turning the movement of your thoughts in a new direction by replacing negative thought patterns with positive thought patterns.
How to attract what you want
Like attracts likes – this means that people’s experiences match their states of mind. E.g. angry people often have many things to be angry about and this is most likely because they have an angry or irritated mind set. Likewise people who are truly kind and loving also have a truly generous mind-set, which also reflect on their life experience. Your present experience always reflects your present state of mind. When you start to acknowledge this key fact it makes life very simple because it means; to have a wonderful life your most important task is to keep your mental energy high. By focusing and being grateful for all the good you already have in your life, you set in motion the unfolding of even more positive and good things to happen because like attracts like.
To change your thought patterns you need to learn how to focus your mind. There are several mental techniques or strategies you can choose. Affirmations and visualization are both techniques that aim to break our old negative programming and help us develop new mental patterns and new mental equivalents. By means of constant repetition, we can change the content of our thinking and begin to develop new thought patterns. When this happens, events and experiences in the outer world begin reflecting our new thought patterns back to us.
Meditation is another effective way of changing your focus and detaches yourself from the mind bubbling well. By just watching your mind and not interfering, not wanting anything in particular, just being aware, you will see the thoughts as they come and go. And if you stop naming them you will observe that thoughts are merely thoughts – and nothing else, just thoughts. There is nothing to them. No substance, so they cannot be real. Thoughts are not reality they are just the bubbling well of mind. Reality and thoughts are two completely different things. Reality is the unmoving and stable this or now or moment. And our thoughts are the ever changing bubbling well of concepts or mental constructions, arising and disappearing. Reality is not what we think – it’s what is right at this moment.
Bettina Hemmingsen is licensed to practice counseling and other social work skills in the Denmark. She holds a BA in Social work and is a certified Experiential Marriage Counselor and Psychotherapist. She is a family-therapist and counsellor for expats living abroad. She is a mother, and über mom, works with children, families and couples in Munich. If you have a question and want to further discuss an issue visit her homepage. http://www.bettinahemmingsen.com/