I read a life changing sentence this week: “ There are 100 million sensory receptors within the body, and ten trillion synapses in the nervous system, making the mind 100,000 times more sensitive to its internal environment than to its external one. So it is truly from a place within that we receive and assimilate most of our knowledge.”- Anodea Judith
And yet we spend so little time actually paying attention to what is happening within us. We can have powerful intuitions through embodied knowledge but we dismiss these insights. We can identify our feelings, such as fear, anxiety, or lack, but we stop short in questioning why it is we feel this way. Or where in our body do we physically feel this emotion? What messages is your mind sending to your internal environment? Are you receiving love notes of acceptance and serenity or hate mail full of self-doubt, judgment, and worry? My greatest struggle in creating a happy internal environment is sifting through the mounds of hate mail my ego likes to send me.
What makes you qualified to write about this? You are not Yoda, you can’t control me. I own you. This isn’t going to be helpful. You should really just stop. We both know you would be happier if you were napping right now. You should do that instead.
With endless criticism and judgment,
What we think matters. A lot. It paints our internal landscapes. So if the greatest influence on our mind is within us, then we are truly accountable for our own happiness or lack thereof. That’s right. It’s you. It’s 100,000 times just you and what you are creating. What exactly are you creating? Anger? Blame? Judgment? Fear? How about just general negativity? You might even be thinking,” I don’t create any of those things.” However, it is also a possibility that you are creating all of those things, but are not yet even aware you are engaging in those powerfully depleting energies. Your thoughts are powerful, they shape both your internal and external world. The following are five steps to help you begin the journey of creating a positive internal environment.
Watch Your Thoughts
This first step requires a focused mindfulness. On some level you are always hearing your thoughts. However, because you have so many thoughts in the course of a single day it is easy to tune them out and allow them to become white noise inside your head. Instead, try paying attention to them. See if you can remove yourself from your thoughts so that they are separate from you. By doing so it makes them easier to observe. Then sit back and watch. What kinds of words are being used internally? Is the overall picture positive or doom and gloom? How often are your thoughts focused around worry or fear? How often are you blaming, judging, or criticizing someone? How often do you praise? How often are your thoughts compassionate and accepting?
Why are You Afraid
Through watching your thoughts you move into awareness. When you judge or attack others or yourself you are creating fear based emotions within you. Through observation of your thoughts you can now begin to evaluate them. With thoughts of a negative nature ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” Sometimes the answer will be completely irrational which is ok. The other day a woman attending a meeting in our office building asked me if I had a phone charger she could borrow. In my head I watched my thoughts attack her. “Who just asks a stranger to borrow their phone charger?” “I don’t know this woman; she doesn’t work here.” I didn’t have a phone charger to give her, but as I evaluated these thoughts I realized how irrational they were. What was I so afraid of? The lack of possibly not having my phone charger returned? She most likely really needed a charger otherwise she would not have asked a complete stranger for theirs. Evaluating your thoughts is important because it sheds light on our fears, the rational and irrational.
Stay in the Now
How often are your internal thoughts focused on something that has not yet happened or something that has already happened? I would bet that the majority of the negative thoughts you construct are worries or anticipation of future events. Or alternatively, they are rooted in reliving and holding onto past events. Let go of both. The past is not a predictor of the future, although your mind tricks you into thinking so. The future does not exist. Stay in the now. Observe and react only to what is happening right now, as though it were happening without the possibility of a future or memory of a past. Doing this one step will remove many fear-based energies. There is only right now.
Your natural state is one of compassion and freedom. It is worth battling for a positive internal environment and for a loving mind. In order to achieve this we need to abandon judgment. Give up judging other people and yourself. The problem is not the other person or something in the external environment, the problem is within you and your judgment of a situation. Situations just are; you choose how to label them, good, bad, difficult, life changing. I’ll share an ugly secret with you about the human condition: we are addicted to our tensions. We talk about how these negative aspects of ourselves are bad, how we don’t want negativity and yet we continue to consume it and use it to fuel large parts of our lives. You can help kick the addiction by foregoing judgment. It is hard work but the war is worth waging. Be kind to others and be kind to yourself
How you feel about others and the external world is a projection of your internal world. You can change these feelings by shifting how you feel about yourself. Where is there unhappiness within you? What are you judging in yourself? Where are you holding on to anger? Be compassionate and kind to yourself. This can be really difficult sometimes. I know for myself that it is far easier for me to forgive and give kindness to others than to myself. I am my hardest critic. If you struggle with accepting yourself, imagine how you treat someone you love unconditionally. How do you treat your child, your brother or sister, your beloved? I bet you are gentle with them. I bet you wrap them in compassion and warmth. I bet that you are giving and affirm their worth. I bet you forgive them. I bet you love them fiercely. Now do that for yourself. No one deserves your love more than you.
“There is no separation between the mind and the body, and everything that we’re thinking or feeling or experiencing over the course of a lifetime, or lifetimes, has an effect on your cellular tissue. So your body remembers everything and even though we have as human beings an incredibly — a gorgeous ability to reconcile or to reason, our bodies don’t have that same ability to heal unless we’re moving through experiences in our life in a spiritual way. So what I’m saying is if we’re holding onto hate, blame, shame, anger, rage, sadness, or grief, something like that, those emotions can be as toxic on our physical body as a poor diet or as inertia and they manifest as tension, stress, and anxiety. So our physical body is actually masking the emotional resonance that lies beneath it.”- Seane Corn