Here is a quote – Our destiny changes with our thought; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do when our habitual thought corresponds with our desires.
—Orison Swett Marden
One of the most important terms in psychology is ‘psychological trauma’, which is an intense thought about some negative experience that completely alters the psyche of an individual. Sometimes, a single trauma ends up governing one’s entire life. In fact, it is one of the most common causes of mental health disorders. Most so-called serial killers or psychopaths confess to having experienced some major trauma in their childhood that significantly altered the direction of their mental growth.
The same works in the opposite direction also. Even those who went out and made a positive difference to the world had some sort of a singular intention guiding their way. Most of them had experienced some great revelations at some point in their lives, the memory of which continually reminded them of their true purpose of life. Their desires were as simple as wanting to help others or just improving their own financial condition, but since they followed their desires with an intense focus, ultimately, they were able to achieve wonders.
Your thoughts govern you
Most of us live in the illusion that we control our thoughts. However, in reality, the situation is quite the opposite. To understand this, perform one simple test. Just close your eyes for 5 minutes, and try not thinking about anything. After that, if you had any thoughts during the process, pen them down.
Most people, when they close their eyes and go through this process, experience a barrage of thoughts. When they reopen their eyes, it becomes very difficult for them to express what they were thinking. If they try very hard, they are able to single out a few thoughts, which usually fall in the categories of worries, hopes, expectations, fears and other such negative emotions.
At the beginning of the process, you were instructed not to think about anything, but you failed to do so. This proves that your thoughts are not under your control. In addition, unwillingly, you experienced mostly negative thoughts. This test clearly shows us the type of thoughts that govern us.
These negative thoughts that live perennially within our minds harden with time and take the form of prejudices, which ultimately cloud our thinking and prevent us from experiencing the world the way it is.
Control your thoughts
However, if we say that our thoughts are completely out of our control, then that would be a false statement, too. We still have a little degree of control, which varies from person to person. The problem with most of us is that we relinquish that little bit of control that we have over our thoughts. We let our minds feed on whatever we come across on television and in social media, and do not pay any attention to the type of information that we are swallowing. In some sense, every day, we take in too much ‘junk food for the mind’, which has an effect similar to that of junk food on our body. It makes us unhealthy and sick.
The wisest thing to do in this scenario would be to take back the control that we have over our thoughts. The first step in this direction would be to understand the effect each type of information has on our minds. Once we have understood this effect, we can filter the information that we take in every day. We can train our minds by selecting the information that makes us calm, removes our doubts and helps us focus more intensely on our aims. Undertake this process for a considerable period of time and you’ll be able to enhance your control over your thoughts.
Practising mindfulness meditation
The process of closing our eyes and looking into our thoughts, which we discussed earlier, is what meditation is all about. The only difference in the case of meditation is that you do it for a longer time, and you don’t make any effort to stop your thoughts. You simply sit down, close your eyes and watch your thoughts.
For beginners, it’s easier said than done. Each time they close their eyes, they become aware of the overwhelming number of thoughts that constantly whirl within their minds. After a few days of practise, they soon become weary and come to the conclusion that meditation isn’t their cup of tea.
This is something that we must avoid. Just as it takes time for the mud in muddy water to settle, meditation only yields fruit if it is practised regularly for a long time. Patience and perseverance are the two most important rules that you must always keep in mind. However, if you want to make this task easier for yourself, you should exercise a bit before you meditate, and start eating a simple vegetarian diet.
Many people, especially those belonging to the intelligentsia, are skeptical about meditation. They are of the opinion that the effects of meditation cannot be proved. However, many studies have been conducted on the subject, and most of them showed positive results. In one such case, research conducted by the UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) proved that meditation slows down age-related neural degeneration1, and people who engage frequently in meditation have more grey matter in their brain2.
Using the power of thought to manifest your desires
Imagine writing on a page already filled with myriad scribbles, blotches, and stains. What you write would hardly be discernible, and when you look at the page, you would have to pay special attention to finding what you just wrote. Later, you might even fail to do so. Such is our usual state of mind. Since our mind is filled with useless impressions, even when we discover what we really want from life, we have trouble focusing on it.
Meditation offers the perfect cure. By helping us let go of our thoughts, it makes our mind as clean and pure as a blank sheet of paper. Whatever we write on that paper is completely clear and legible. We don’t have to make any extra effort to remember or even focus on what we want as it becomes absolutely obvious to us.
Any work done with such a state of mind is never without fruit. As the Buddha said in his teachings, ‘All that we are is the result of what we have thought – it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.’ The only thing you have to do is to make your intention pure, and then whatever you think will start manifesting itself.