Monday, October 26, 2009

Choosing Our Thoughts and Feelings



The Third Transformational Truth:
I Choose Thoughts and Feelings That Honor My Sacred Self


On average, 60,000 thoughts a day run through our minds, most of them not of our own choosing. They are random thoughts. Thoughts about the past, overshadowed by worry or regret, or thoughts about the future, dominated by more worry or fear.

If we desire to live as our truest self, a woman who is naturally peaceful, confident, joyful, and loving, it is important that we develop a new relationship with our thoughts, as well as the feelings that accompany them.

We can do so by beginning to observe—simply notice—the content of these thoughts and where they lead us. We can ask ourselves: Does their presence take me into a greater daily experience of peace, love, or joy? Or do these thoughts keep me bound up in worry, self-doubt, fear, or lack? Then, because we desire to live in an enlightened manner, we pledge to redirect our thinking.

To begin to track our thoughts, words, and actions requires one very important skill—the ability to access silence. It is impossible to get in touch with our thoughts and feelings if we cannot get quiet enough to listen. We must begin to clear out our mind clutter and create room for peace, love, and joy to dwell. For this very reason, periods of silence-infused solitude are vital to our life journey.

One of the most effective methods for working with our thoughts is through the practice of journaling. It is one of the best ways I know to look at what is being said within our mind. Journaling offers a powerful opportunity for self-reflection and self-correction. Once we have taken note of our thoughts, we can tell the truth about ourselves, and begin to remake our lives. We can set a powerful intention to live a new way.

The next step is to redirect our thoughts and feelings. We assess if we are living in alignment. Alignment is a state of being whereby our thoughts, words, and actions are “in sync,” each one in harmony with the other. Each builds upon the other to take us into an embodied experience of our truest self—or not.

For example, if we say we love others but speak badly or gossip about them, we are not in alignment. Our thoughts and feelings do not match our actions. In fact, they are a contradiction. If we say that we desire peace in the world but have feelings of anger, bitterness, or resentment toward others, we are not walking our talk. We are not in alignment.

We change this, we change ourselves, by noticing the nature of our thoughts, then consciously choosing only those that bring us into alignment with our highest desires—the virtues to which we aspire. This process is one of the highest forms of spiritual practice in which we can engage.

This is the call and the challenge being issued to us today. Are we ready to answer? I sincerely hope so, for when do, the world itself will begin to change for the better.



I'm curious to know where you are in the process of choosing YOUR thoughts and feelings. 

Do tell ...




Make a comment on this post and you' ll be entered into the next drawing for a copy of Your Truest Self. This is the final week of our Birthday Bash!

And Congratulations to Sharon of One Woman's Life in Maine for being the winner of last weekend's book giveaway! Hooray!

(Photo image courtesy of http://www.alcoholism-information.com.)

17 comments:

Sharon said...

Jan, this is a wonderful surprise. Thank you in advance for the book, which I will start reading the moment it arrives. To be honest, it has only been in the last months that I have become ready to embrace the woman I am meant to be. I have been at odds with myself for a long time, but I am now ready to take a chance and give my truest self a chance to be.

Laura said...

Jan,
There is a great debate going on (that I'm reading) about how resisting negative thoughts can set up a bad dynamic in ourselves. In my life I try to "water the seeds of joy", yet still make space to acknowledge my negative emotions. It's a balancing act. I try to have compassion towards all the parts of myself, as well as towards others. I guess this is a mindfulness practice. I do try not to get stuck in worry or other negative habits.

I keep a journal; that is the BEST way to come back to present and resolve issues for me.

Interesting that we contain so many voices, isn't it?

Just Joany said...

Life can certainly be a merry-go-round of emotions, but striving to truly love anyone who is of the same family... and we all are... is the only way to be sincerely happy with ourselves.
Congratulations on a year of your book in publication. May you have many more successes. ~ Just Joany

http://redwagonflights.blogspot.com

Julie G said...

I do better with thoughts and feelings that honor my sacred self when I am in solitude and silence.
The practice of journaling takes me there everytime. I have been writing in a journal for several years now and this practice, for me, is sacred. I can take the thoughts and feelings from the day, whether negative or positive, and write them down, re-read, add more details etc. and really see it all differently than when I was actually in the moment. I learn alot about myself in journaling. It is a great practice to redirect my thoughts and feelings; it brings me closer to alignment.

Nadia - Happy Lotus said...

Hi Jan,

I used to be a Type A perfectionist and a worrier. When my spiritual journey began, all those traits had to be chipped away. It was a painful process and through it all, I learned about the power of meditation and silence.

Now some sixteen years later, this is what I have learned. Whenever the ego decides to share her thoughts about worry or fear, I let her talk. She babbles on for as long as she needs to and I just listen. When she is finished, I tell her thank you for sharing and just move on.

Some days it is hard to be detached from the worry but then I just talk myself through it and realize that life always works out in some way. I see if there is any merit or anything that can be done. If so, I follow through. If not, I just let it go.

I think when the ego is seen for what it is, it becomes relatively easier to be in alignment. We all have access to our inner voice but the ego just does not want us to be in connection with it and so it just babbles.

Jan said...

Sharon,
So glad to hear that this is "YOUR time" to blossom and grow and reclaim your truest self. Any time is the right time! Enjoy the book. :-)

Laura,
Oh, yes, those voices! I have lost count of how many there are in MT busy mind. I tend to concur that not energizing the negative thoughts by refocusing ourselves on the positive virtues is very powerful and often more potent than trying to "work" with something. So much of what goes on in our minds is just chatter, nonsense, discursive thinking. Seeing it as that and "turning away" can be most helpful. :-) (And so glad to hear that you journal!)

Dear Joany,
Welcome! And thanks for the congrats. :-) True, by focusing on love, the goodness in ourselves and others, we foster our Oneness. (That's the 12th Truth in my book, by the way.)

Julie,
Journaling is amazing for running down the thoughts and noticing our patterns. I am glad that both you and Laura find it helpful. I find writing letters does something similar. If I sit down to write to a good friend then reread what I wrote, I can more clearly see myself, esp. if I am vibrating low on the virtue scale. :-) Good for you!

Nadia,
The techniques you share about dealing with the ego are wonderful. And what's especially wonderful is that you are not energizing it, giving it much attention or juice. I use something very similar. Notice, name, thank it for visiting, then say "Not today!" It's also quite amazing how when we lighten our attitude toward the ego it sort of slinks away. :-) Humor is a miracle worker sometimes.

Lisa (Mommy Mystic) said...

Jan, I have never been a big journaler for some reason, it has just never clicked for me the way I know it has for so many people, women especially. I think I am almost too self-conscious when trying to journal. It might be something that would work itself out if I stuck with it for longer. But I do work with the idea of alignment, and appreciate how you have expressed it here. I think this is a constant, life-long practice,as it is amazing to me how I can be pulled out of alignment by triggers or pressures at times. I catch myself sooner and it happens less frequently, but certainly the triggers are still there.
I was also interested in Laura's comment about a debate about the value of this. There have been a lot of posts lately re: the pros and cons of the law of attraction - I have seen some on alot of Buddhist forums as well. The general idea being that ridding ourself of negative thoughts can cause problems, etc. so I appreciate what she said re: sometimes needing to look at the source and patterns for our thoughts and work through them that way. But I think of that as part of the process of alignment also, as I think you do too.

Rose - The Center of My Self said...

"Does their presence take me into a greater daily experience of peace, love, or joy? Or do these thoughts keep me bound up in worry, self-doubt, fear, or lack?" I love this! Again, the comments, too, add to my own contemplation. Yoga's practice of non-attachment allows one to acknowledge the negative thoughts and then let them float on by, not attaching to them, just seeing them and releasing them on their way.

As far as choosing my thoughts and feelings, some years ago I wrote on my office blackboard (really closet doors painted with blackboard paint) that one of my goals was to focus on greater peace and non-violence in my life experience. I was a bit amazed to realize the amount of violence that surrounds us in myriad, tiny, seemingly harmless ways. A raised voice, a loud leaf blower, fireworks, football games (oomph!), a slammed door, TV shows, movies, songs ... To bring greater peace to my self, I try for calmer things, gentler things, in my thoughts and in my environment. I don't ask that others forego such things - we each walk our own path - but for me, I need to forego them.

Carolynn said...

Beautifully articulated.

I am a very inconsistent journaller. On further reflection, I suppose, my blog has become a form of journalling for me. The work I'm doing now is working very much on being in alignment. Not always easy to maintain, but I'm getting better at recognizing when I'm out of alignment. And, that too, is an act of embracing my wholeness.

Blessings,
Carolynn

Carolynn said...

Jan, I just want to acknowledge you and this space you've created here. There is so much wisdom and warmth from both you and the women who choose to participate in the dialogue. It's refreshing and revitalizing.

Thank you, my friend.

Carolynn

Joy said...

Jan,
Journaling and solitude are key for me to touch base with my essence and to rejuvenate my soul. I read "the Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron and begin each day with morning pages to clear my mind. I then journal throughout the day or week as different issues come up. I've kept a journal throughout my life, and I encourage my children to keep journals.

Solitude is big for me--probably intertwined with my love for sailing. To clear my mind and to be quiet enough to interact with God--I either run laps on my beach or sail. Regardless of the weather. If I miss both regularly I know there is an issue I am afraid to address. When I participate in both regularly I am calm, feel very much in alignment, and can face anything. I find that lately I enjoy solitude on my baot. I clean and straighten, light my candles, and am glad to be there with no children, no visitors--happens rarely, but when it does I breathe deeply and just sit in it.
I try to be mindful of "walking my talk"; I know words can be damaging--internally and externally-- and unfortunately do a much better job with others than with myself--I am working on that though!

Wilma Ham said...

I am becoming aware of what I feed my mind, just as I am becoming aware of what I am feeding my body.
I have no media coming into our house, no television, no news paper and it is amazing how I am still up to date with news. However the constant negative stream is no longer there and that helps hugely.
My mind is still active though, it has stored a lot of stories that do pop up and make me fearful.
Journaling doesn't work for me, I tried but I rather let my thoughts parade in front of me like Nadia and then I say a very simple sentence that I can remember in the noise which is 'I am love'.
That grounds me and returns me to peace as it takes me to what I know that is behind it.
That I am in a covenant with God and have all the resources I need.
That however has taken me yeaaaaars to get what that meant though and in those years while I was still getting it, I did not feel peaceful at all.
When I became uptight, distracting the mind by doing things helped then.
Being quiet made things worse.
Now I can be quiet when upset and restore peace with I am love.
I now can live in a quiet place and not be afraid.

Caroline said...

After reading the four agreements this really hit home for me. It's about not taking anything personally (including your own negative self talk). Today I just published my photo book. I am terrified. My ego keeps saying that no one will buy it...that I just wasted my time. I am fighting with myself. So I am just allowing those feelings to "be" and focusing on what my heart and soul are leading me to do. I made this book with love...and with that I find comfort.

Jan said...

Lisa,
I think some people are inclined to journaling and others are not. I, myself, have seasons of journaling. If you are able to be self-observant (as I know you are) or fully engaged in the practice of mindfulness, or "running down our thoughts" as Iyanla Vanzant says (Holy Woman #3), we can notice all the patterns of thinking/feeling/acting we get hooked into. Then make new choices...And, as you say, the more we can do this, the less we get hooked. It is a lifelong process to live with greater ease...I still get hooked, but not as easily, nor dramatically. I am so grateful to have been made aware of these practices years ago. :-)

Rose,
So great to hear that yoga has helped you with this. Excellent. And that you notice all the violence surrounding us. I do wish more people would. :-) That's why we don't have a TV either, and are very mindful of movies we watch, conversations in which we engage, the company we keep, etc. They all contribute to our well-being or lack of it...Kudos to you for such powerful life choices—countercultural as they are (the road less traveled :-)

Carolynn,
I do think blogging can serve that purpose. Especially if we create from a place of center. And if we attune ourselves to what we've written and can step back to observe. It does sound like this new process you are working with is shifting things and creating greater alignment for you than ever before. Very cool!

And thank you for those sweet comments about the blog. I take them into my heart--they mean so much to hear. I agree with you that the women gathering here are amazing and I, too, love their soulful responses.

Joy,
The Artist's Way is wonderful. No wonder your path is expanding right now--those morning pages can do that! Yes, solitude is so important and I am heartened to hear that it is a priority for you. It heals so much angst--silence too. Sail on!

Annie said...

I have been practicing the art of observing my thoughts for about 6 years now, and I get better and better at it. I also love the fact that we don't have to "own" the thoughts in our heads we can ignore them if we choose.xoxo

Jan said...

Wilma,
Glad to hear that you have found a method of self-observation that works for you. I'd describe what you are doing as mindfulness or walking (living) meditation. It is all about being vigilant to what is transpiring in our thoughts and the emotions that are created. We can choose to ignore some and pay attention to others for the purpose of untangling old patterns and healing. Isn't it marvelous? And, yes, it does take time and practice, but oh so worth it! I am celebrating that you have found your peace...

Caroline,
Congratulations on the book, by the way. It looks stunning and is a bold achievement. So now you are noticing how the ego wants to burst your bubble and take you into emotions that will negate your creative energy and confidence. Good for you to notice them and not fall prey to what they have to say. Or, if you do stumble, notice it, affirm yourself, treat yourself lovingly and move on. The more adept we are at noticing and discerning, the better off we are. :-) I do hope many people find your lovely work....

Jan said...

Annie,
Wonderful to hear! I am so happy that you have been on this path for a while now. What you said is very true and if we could truly accept that we are not our thoughts--that they do not own us, nor need run us--we are so much better off. Blessings!