Making the mind your friend

Maureen Goodman

Our thoughts shape our experience of life, colour our view of the world, and affect our physical health. They also create the atmosphere around us, through our vibrations.

We all have experience of the racing mind seemingly running away with us. Make no mistake, negative, critical, or angry thoughts have real power.

Yet we should not try to stop them; it will just not work. Instead, recognizing the active and lively nature of the mind, we should aim to harness our thoughts, and direct our energy, positively.

This is so important in the current circumstances since the more positive the mind, the more it helps boost the immune system.

Dadi Janki taught that thoughts, breath and energy are connected. You may notice that when you are upset or worried, the mind is racing, your breathing is shallow, and you quickly feel tired. By contrast, when you are calm, the thoughts are slower, more meaningful and carry a powerful energy, and physical vitality is increased.

The key to having control over the mind is to understand who I truly am. Identifying with the physical body means taking on shifting and fragmentary identities based on external circumstances and conditioning such as gender or culture, occupation or values. These roles distract and clutter the mind with mistaken perceptions.

The practice of meditation guides me to wake up to my true identity as a spiritual being, a soul. I understand that although I play many parts in daily life, they do not define me. Developing the awareness that I am a stable and constant soul provides an anchor to help me live in the world as it is.

It also unlocks rich inner resources as I move away from the effects of external conditioning and follow the path to rediscover my original state as a being of peace, love and wisdom. Self-respect increases and, as I navigate through life making conscious choices based on inner wisdom, my thoughts, words and actions change. So, too, does the impact they have on others.

The journey takes time, honesty and courage. The mind is like an ocean, sometimes stormy on the surface, yet still, silent and filled with beauty in its depths. Exploring the inner recesses, we discover more recent thoughts and experiences, and also the stored memories and long-held attitudes that have formed our personality traits.

By using the intuitive capacity to discern what will be useful and what should be discarded, we begin to clear away the clutter in the mind. Akin to the intellect yet connected to the heart, the intuition is a sure guide in deciding what to keep and what to leave behind.

The deeper our exploration through meditation, the nearer we come to reaching the true, original self, and to setting ourselves free. We discover we are beings of strength and peace, filled with unconditional love and wisdom, and deep inner joy. These qualities make up our inherent goodness and they are present in all of us. We only have to find them.