Take Hold Of The Mind

Where do you live?

Most people would answer that seemingly simple question with their mailing address. Mindfulness however says that the most accurate answer to where we live our lives is in our minds.

Allow me to explain:

 People generally believe that whatever occurs to them, occurs in the world outside of themselves.

 Walking down the street, a passing stranger smiles in my direction. I feel welcomed.

Or getting onto a city bus, the driver rudely tells me to hurry up even as I struggle with my grocery bags. I am angered and hurt by his behavior.

Since the passerby and the bus driver exist outside of me, is it not reasonable to attribute my reaction in both cases to their friendliness or rudeness? Mindfulness however teaches that what other people do is irrelevant to my feelings and thoughts. That is because mindfulness says that I am fully in charge of my thoughts and feelings. In other words, in the view of mindfulness, my mind is my own private world to furnish as I decide to. Events that occur around me including others’ behavior, whether positive or negative, may offer me ideas on how I could feel if I wished to,

BUT I am free to feel as I wish.

For most of us, the idea that we are fully in charge of our feelings and thoughts may seem absurd. After all, we have been victimized time and again by invalidating family members and acquaintances for as long as we can remember. We know how terrible we feel when someone says something insulting to us. We also know how terrific we have felt when someone has complemented us. All of the evidence seems to point to the fact that our minds are controlled by the outside world.

Or does it?

Let’s try an experiment. Let’s say that yesterday you bought a lottery ticket. The jackpot was two hundred million dollars. This morning you checked the winning number and miracle of miracles, you had the correct number.

You had won the lottery!!! You’re a millionaire!!

You run through the streets with absolute glee. A family member calls you on your cell phone and begins haranguing your for some reason or another. Your boss insults your work. Neither person however can touch you. You are utterly euphoric.

Finally, you go to the lottery outlet to claim your prize. You pull out your lottery ticket and check the numbers again. It is then however that you notice something that you hadn’t seen earlier.

 You see that in fact you are off by one number.

Argh!! You haven’t won the lottery. What a let down. What a disappointment.

 But hold it! Why then were you so ecstatic if you hadn’t really won the lottery? You didn’t have the correct number! Why get so excited?

 “Ah”, you’ll respond, “I thought that I had the winning number.”

“Exactly!” I would respond, “Your glee was not due to something that occurred outside. After all, on the outside world, you were a lottery loser. Your glee however happened in your mind.”

 It is not a simple thing to accept that the universe exists inside the mind. Yet embracing this truth about the universe spells the difference between life and misery. Mindfulness, or living within the mind, offers us real peace, safety, and the strength that we need to live lives of authenticity and love.