Friday, June 13, 2008

How Your Mind Stresses You Out

For thousands of years, pundits and sages both East and West have been telling us that our problems originate in our minds. So you won’t be surprised if I join the chorus of voices and agree. Yes, they’re right: Your mind by itself “can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven” (as English poet John Milton put it). But how, you may be wondering, can this cute little truism help you when you don’t know what to do about it? “Sure, my mind’s the problem,” you may say, “but I can’t exactly have it surgically removed.”

You can begin by becoming familiar with how your mind works. As you may have noticed, it’s a rather complex assortment of thoughts, ideas, stories, impulses, preferences, and emotions. Without a diagram, it can be as difficult to negotiate as the jumble of wires and hoses under the hood of your car. When you have a working knowledge of how your mind is structured, you can begin to notice how those thoughts and feelings distort your experience and keep you from achieving the happiness, relaxation, effectiveness, or healing you seek. Then you can discover how meditation can teach you to change all that by focusing and calming your mind, and ultimately by delving more deeply and unraveling the habitual stories and patterns that keep causing you suffering and stress. Who knows? You may not need to have a lobotomy after all!

No comments: