Jerusalem The Emanation of The Giant Albion, William Blake wrote: "
For the past month or so, I've begun taking to heart the idea shared by many metaphysical teachers that the point of power is always now. At any given moment throughout my day, but particularly when I'm feeling overwhelmed, stressed, frustrated or even twinges of depression, I've made it a habit to stop my mind chatter, be still and assess what's going on around me, now. I then ask myself: "What are you feeling right now?" "What are you thinking right now?" "Does this thought or feeling serve you?" "How do you want to feel right now?" "What can you think about that will help you feel that way in the present moment?"
I've read in several dozen different books and articles that the human mind processes an average of about 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day, according to research. How scientists arrived at this particular figure, I don't know. But if they're correct, then I believe it's also fair to assume the vast majority of these thoughts pass through our minds unnoticed. I'll be honest, without making the effort to stop and take notice of what I'm thinking right now as I write, I couldn't tell you what or how many thoughts just crossed my mind. Yet our thoughts are creating our reality—they are the programming that runs our lives. Our thoughts affect our feelings, which affect our decisions, which affect our actions. It's suggested that most people live much of their lives on auto pilot, reacting to current situations or stimuli pretty much the same way they usually do, without ever questioning whether another response might be more appropriate, useful or effective. Ever feel sometimes like you're experiencing the "same sh**t, different day?" Is it any wonder if your reactions are based on the same 50,000 to 60,000 thoughts passing through your mind over and over again, unnoticed and unquestioned. Just consider for a moment that we never truly react to a situation or event because of the nature of the event itself, but to the feelings and emotions we experience based on what we THINK about a situation or event.
I can't begin to count the number of times I've reacted in anger to something someone said or did without ever questioning why am I angry. Perhaps, if I had taken the time to ask—"What's this all about?" "What are you thinking about what happened?"— I might have realized that it was my own thoughts triggering my emotions, not the other person's words or actions. It works with positive emotions, too. Am I really happy because of what the person said, or the thoughts their words bring up for me? It's okay. I still very much enjoy feeling happy!
Taking the time to become aware of my thoughts and feelings in the present moment has given me my power back. When I become aware of thoughts that don't serve me, that don't feel good, I can choose another thought, a more empowering one. And, rather than reacting to situations or events the way I've always done as if there are no other alternatives, I am actually able to see and choose a different way to respond, if I'd like to. Don't have to, but now at least I've given myself options. This has created some seeming miraculous changes in not just my mood, but my circumstances, and reduced the amount of stress and overwhelm I experience.
Just today as I was headed to my parents' home, I experienced what had become an all too normal sense of dread and heaviness. Today, I consciously chose to stop it. While standing at the bus stop, I took a deep breath and asked "What's going on with you?" "What are you thinking right now?"
I was thinking that the last time I was there, they were both in unpleasant moods, complaining, demanding, difficult to help take care of, and the whole environment was chaotic for me, and felt stressful. Well, although I wanted to help my parents today because I believed (a belief that I'm working to overcome) they could use the help, I certainly didn't want to endure another day of unpleasantness with them.
"What do you want to feel right now?" "What can you think about that would help you feel that way?" I want to feel calm. I want to feel at peace. I want to feel joyful. So, I started thinking about what a beautiful, seemingly unseasonably warm day it is today and how grateful I am for the warmer weather and sunny blue skies in November! I thought about how nice it would be to get an ice cream cone on such a day, although I opted instead for a peppermint mocha coffee. I thought about the new car that I'll be buying soon meaning no more riding the bus. I thought about getting a new tattoo and how much I love Beatles' music. I even started thinking about which were my favorite Beatles' songs. And no, I wasn't thinking about getting a Beatles' tattoo, but a treble and bass clef tatt because I'm very passionate about music.
By the time I arrived at my parents' home, I was feeling pretty good! I even had a bit of a giggle when I noticed my sister was wearing a Beatles' t-shirt!! Of course she was—my ability to create synchronicities rocks! The best part is that I've now been at my parents' home for more than half a day, and it's been quiet, peaceful and down right pleasant. My dad's been in good spirits—very chatty and cordial with the caregiver who comes on Sundays—and my mom expressed appreciation for my being here to help out. They are both now quietly resting.
The next time you're feeling stressed, overwhelmed, angry, annoyed, frustrated or just not feeling how you want to feel, try being still for a moment and ask yourself these three questions:
- What am I thinking right now?
- How do I want to feel right now?
- What thoughts can I think to get me to that feeling in this present moment?
Then think those new thoughts and see what happens.