Well no sunsets for the next few days. The winter rains have settled in to envelop us bringing with them a different perspective. I do like the winter rain in many ways, the moodiness and solemnity as well as the way it encourages reflection. At the same time I would also dread it as there are periods where it seems endless and as if the sky is falling in on you. Ultimately we need a combination of sun and rain for all life to flourish. If there was only sunshine things would eventually wither and die. So the rains bless us with this fantastic greenery that surrounds us and which comes to life in the spring. I am certainly developing a much different outlook on this winter weather. Not to mention it sure beats a polar vortex.
Lately I have felt extremely at peace with my life and the world. It is an indescribable feeling, but one you’d know if you’ve experienced it. I believe it would be different for all of us, but we can still relate on the general principle. Having such a feeling is very different for me. It is not something that I have felt for any extended length of time. My world and mind is generally somewhat chaotic, which is not necessarily a negative state. It is often one which invokes a great deal of creativity. It also allows me to switch my focus from one task or topic to a new one quite easily. On the other side it can prevent me from finishing what I have started, as once I know it can be completed I won’t always follow through. Just the knowledge that it can be completed is fine for me.
The other negative aspect of a chaotic mind is that it is never really quiet. It is always working on something, never resting. That never ending exertion leads it to overanalyze every situation and the aspects of the situation. You end up in the mind loop where you mind goes around and around again on the same track in a perpetual circle. You consider every experience from as many angles as you can to see how it will fit into your expectations and vision. It prevents you from seeing things as they actually are and moving past most mundane details. The mind has its limitations though and one can be exploited in this circumstance.
To get out of this mode of thinking I undertook several strategies. The first is once I start feeling the loop coming on I acknowledge it and then derail the train of thought before it can get caught in the vortex. The thing is the mind can only think of one thing at a time. That is the limitation you can exploit. If you can recognize the warning signs of the thinking abyss or recognize when you get caught up in the beginnings of it then you can redirect your thinking. With some practice and discipline you can determine what your mind thinks about, and as soon as it tries to wander back (and it inevitably will by its nature) you can derail it once again. You can change the channel so to speak and find a program that you prefer.
Once I have cleared my mind then I can examine the situation or thought that bore the loop and break it down into its main component. Then I determine why that component is significant to me. This is not always easy and requires being as honest with yourself as you can be. After all we tend to sugar coat our realities to make them more palatable. If the mind is stuck on something it generally means we have something we are trying to resolve. It is certainly not always evident what it is we are trying to work out, and sometimes we miss the mark completely. It is worth a look even if you don’t get it right every time. Eventually you will be able to hone in on the issues more accurately and more easily.
One I have determined what is on my mind the next step I look at is whether or not I have any control over the outcome of the situation or experience. If I believe I do then I decide what course of action I would like to undertake. I also remind myself that no matter what course of action I take there is still likely to be an outcome that I don’t expect or desire. As long as I am open to that eventuality then I find it easy to move on from the conundrum. Now of course I sometimes act out of emotion or in haste, but if I do then I reflect later on when I have had time to remove myself from that particular moment.
If I don’t have control then I have to accept that and then decide how that makes me feel. I have realized for quite a few years that I have little control over most of what goes on in life; there are just too many external inputs and factors. I do know I can control how I react to those experiences and situations. I am getting better of letting go of these things and concentrating my energies on that aspects of my life which I enjoy more.
One thing that I have really noticed is that by being able to recognize that white noise in my brain I am struck by the sheer amount of chatter my mind can produce. How it wants to have an opinion on every circumstance and situation, even those that have no impact or bearing on my life in any significant way. Sometimes I can laugh at the absurdity of what causes the thought loop. It is actually quite refreshing when you can laugh at those things. I also find reducing the chatter lets me look at situations and people more openly and clearly. It also allows me to focus my mind on enjoying those great moments in life while they are occurring as opposed to trying to reflect upon how things made me feel at a much later time and place. I also find it much easier to just let things go and move on.
Someone was mentioning to me how tough the path to self can be at times. There is no question of that. It can be an arduous process with some pitfalls and perils on the way. It is also extremely rewarding and we have to learn to celebrate every small achievement and accomplishment on the way. We so often see only what we have left to achieve and we tend to overlook all that we have already accomplished. I pointed out we should learn to be happy with the little steps and discoveries we make. To remember it takes a lot of raindrops to make a river. Each of those small steps is a victory worthy of being celebrated. I have taken a great deal of small steps over the years which gave me the momentum to take a big leap forward. I felt like i was wandering through the forest making progress but I never knew where I was headed. Many times I would go in circles and end up in a place I had already been and often with the same outcome. At other times I was more fortunate and I made some progress towards a place I would likely never reach. Then an inspiration came along and suddenly there was a path to follow to myself and travel became easier. I do realize that this path may not always be there and I may head back into the forest at some points. Progress is never straight ahead but rather full of twists and turns and many misturns. The key lesson is that I know the path to myself is there and even when I feel lost from time to time (which we all do) I know it’s out there somewhere and I will find it again. That in itself was a big lesson for me and that knowledge is very comforting. That allowed me to be myself again, someone I had lost along the way. That is the thing about self, you can find it for a while but then it is just as easy to lose it again. It is always there somewhere, so keep taking those small first steps. Don’t worry about the outcome or hold any expectations, just see where they may lead you.