Sunday, August 23, 2015


I have an understanding, at least somewhat, of the human mind in terms of habitual thinking. We do it naturally. We develop mental habits and then, usually unknowingly, practice them. When we aren't aware of this, it can get us into trouble. The negative mental habits of complaining, thinking badly of ourselves, wishing things could be the way we want all the time, and so on, are strengthened every time we do those things. This is especially important when we get carried away by our thoughts of dread, anger, jealousy, self-pity, judging others and ourselves, and other destructive, negative feelings. This is not to say that it is wrong to have any of these feelings! It's human nature. But when they are allowed to fester and become repetitive negative patterns, we suffer. And suffering can only be helped if we are aware that these things are going on. Once we are aware that, for example, we are hooked by feelings of dreading future events and are thinking about how we imagine the future to be in a negative way, we can pause, label it "thinking," and gently but deliberately bring ourselves back to the present moment. We can do something different from what we usually do. This takes practice (for the rest of our lives, actually!), but we have to realize that whatever we practice, we strengthen.

There's a (I believe Hopi Indian) story about a grandfather telling his grandson about two wolves who live inside him. One is filled with love, peace, gentleness, joy, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. The other is filled with hate, rage, jealousy, self-pity, dread, worry, judgement, meanness, despair, and resistance. The grandfather explains that only one of the wolves can live. The grandson asks which one will survive, and the grandfather replies, "The one that I feed." The story goes something like that anyway.

I find that I catch myself much more now than I used to when I am strengthening negative mental habits, and I also find that people I encounter—family, friends, and others—say things all the time that are just negative habits. Depending on who it is, I try to help them by explaining all of this to them and by giving them practical ways to strengthen positive mental habits instead. It's so important for inner peace.

Today's HGT piece is a message to everyone out there... that you CAN practice and strengthen positive habits, and that the more you do that, the less power the negative habits will have over you. So may you be free from suffering and the root of suffering. May you enjoy happiness and the root of happiness. May you be aware of what goes on in your mind and be compassionate with yourself. May you choose to do something different when you realize you are carried away by your thoughts, and may you practice and strengthen positive mental habits. May you be at peace. Namaste.

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