When I first started practising meditation, believe it or not, my intention was not to become more spiritual.
The main reasons I started to meditate were:
To calm my mind
To control my mind
To slow down
To stop constant streams of thought
To control negative or depressing thoughts
All of these reasons were just elements of one overreaching goal – to cultivate a positive, happy mind.
As I progressed through my meditation journey, practicing many routines and techniques, I found a spiritual side to myself that I did not expect.
I have come to learn that the mind and the spirit can be two separate entities or with practice can be merged as one.
What Is The Difference Between Your Mind And Spirit?
The mind is a super computer that can do wonderful things; however, it can also be extremely destructive, taking you down to the dark depths of depression. When linked with emotions this can be a recipe for disaster!
We suffer more often in imagination than in reality – Seneca
The mind is a tool, like I said, a super computer; but unlike a computer it keeps running and very rarely, if ever, shuts down.
Imagine using a battery drill at home; when you need it you charge it, take it off charge, use it and then put it down. You don’t leave your finger on the trigger all day at max speed until the battery dies, do you?
So why do you do that with your mind?
As a society we rarely complete a job and then put our minds back on charge to recover. This is what meditation is for! Meditation allows you to slow the drill down, turn off the power, put it down and recharge.
As Stephen R. Covey writes in his book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’: “Sharpen The Saw!”
So, we have established the mind is a tool. It is a tool that can be controlled through selection. What do I mean by selection? Well, you will always have a mixture of positive and negative thoughts running through your mind, you cannot escape them, but you can ‘select’ which ones you focus on and how you perceive them.
The next time you find yourself being plagued with negative thoughts, select how you deal with them… Do you let them pass? Do you take action? Do you turn them into positives?
Find what works for you. In his book ‘Discipline Equals Freedom,’ Jocko Willink deals with negative thoughts, failures, setbacks and disasters by simply saying “Good.”
Spilled you coffee down your new shirt? Good, you will learn to be more careful in the future.
Got a warning because you were late for work? Good, you will be more punctual from now on.
Didn’t get promoted? Good, you can work harder on getting better.
Got injured? Good, you needed a break from training.
You can reframe your thoughts and failures in any way you want. Remember, you are still breathing and…
“YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS!”
Many people engage in a variety of different spiritual practices and hold beliefs that are right for them but this is my take on it…
Meditation guided me to my spiritual side; you may call it God, the source, stillness, being, the Universe or even the force (I had to get a Star Wars analogy in somewhere) – I believe that all of these things are one of the same.
Personally, I can only achieve this state of stillness when everything has fallen away. What do I mean? Well, when I sit and give my monkey mind a single job to do, like focusing on my breath, it creates a stillness that gradually eradicates the preconceived notions of “me” – my past, my present, my future, my career, my name, my age, my beliefs and my body. In a nutshell, it removes my ego.
I find myself in a conscious state of “just being.” I am an awareness rather than a physical vessel controlled by my ego. Often this leads to a great sense of joy and happiness.
In AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings and many religions they call it “surrender,” meaning to lose the ego and surrender to a higher power.
You can choose to enter this “surrender” voluntarily or have it forced upon you by what you may deem as negative situations; such as: war, disease, an accident, a loss, addiction, etc.
For myself, it was the latter and I had to learn the hard way, but as Jim Rohn said:
“Use the past as a school, not a club.”
Merging The Mind And Spirit – Part 1
I’m going to borrow from Eckhart Tolle here. A simple way to think about your life is as follows…
- When you going about your daily life, using your mind, you are in the DOING MODE.
- When you are in a place of stillness, you are in the BEING MODE.
Now, as mentioned above, these two “modes” are often separate to start with. Usually, you use your problem solving mind to complete daily tasks, stop, put it down, and then meditate to enter a state of stillness.
However, once you learn to access this quiet stillness through meditation, exercise, singing, music, art, etc. you can keep it running in the background. This is the point at which you can make logical choices from your quiet, still, egoless state; spanning between doing and being. It’s a very calming way to live!
Now this is a simple concept but it takes a lot of practice to apply every day. As mentioned in the article: ‘How Rest And Relaxation Can Actually Save You Time And Make You More Productive,’ you mind goes through periods of different states, where brain activity is more or less active. It is your job to be aware of these states and alter them by understanding how you work best.
You need to beat your ego so it doesn’t block your calm state. The egoic mind always feels like it needs to protect or defend itself. It covers you in armour to deflect reality and shuts your true self away from the world. The reality is you are still breathing, you control your mind, you control your thoughts, you control your actions and you can choose to enter a place of still awareness.
When you are in a stressful situation or an argument is looming, say to yourself:
This is to remove yourself mentally and emotionally from the situation so that you can think about it logically. It is even more powerful if you can physically remove yourself by taking a step back. This allows you to still your mind and think at the same time.
Once detached ask yourself: What am I doing with my breath? What am I feeling in my body? Is it tense? Am I angry? What is the best outcome here?
By practicing breathing meditation and body scan meditation you can start to understand triggers in your body, using them as red flags when things start to go wrong. This allows you to detach earlier without letting problems escalate.
You may find that this method makes it easier for you to merge your mind and spirit together or vice versa. Use whichever method works for you and what you find easiest to apply. There is no right or wrong answers, we all have different ways of doing things. The important thing is to understand you!
This was a challenging article to write. I hope that the explanations and methods can easily be understood and applied.
If there is one point that you take from this article please let it be that you need to balance “THE DOING” with “THE BEING.”
If you are always stuck doing you will burn yourself out physically, mentally and emotionally.
Likewise, if you are always stuck in being you will struggle to get things done and the bank will probably take your house!
Find your balance or merge the two if you can.