A good friend recently asked how I’m doing in my head and in my heart. It is much easier for me to decode my head space than it is to pinpoint how my heart is riding the waves. The noise in my head is audible. My heart walks to the beat of a more quiet drummer. My mind rules the roost in determining my life experience. I don’t ignore my heart; rather, my mind has a grip on its reins. My mind guides and checks while my heart beats, hustles, and flows.
If I’m unhappy, my heart isn’t the culprit. It’s my mind. Happiness or lack thereof is a function of how I look at things. Shifting out of happiness comes about as a result of changing what I’m doing. I can’t think myself happy. However, I can take care of my mind by doing things to produce an effect on my happiness. For example, doing yoga offers stability. Stability in my body begets stability in my head. K. Pattabhi Jois, reknowned yogi said about the practice, “yoga is mind medicine.” Practicing yoga is an exploration of both the bondage and the liberation of my mind. When I feel stable, I feel happy. The outcome of using my body to soothe my mind is much better than attempting to mentally manipulate my brain.
In earlier posts, I’ve spoken of anxieties of mine. Anxiety is trepidation about the future. Anxiety about my future is a condition of my mind at work. My heart may feel it as tightness in my chest, but the sensation is generated by mental machination. When anxiety morphs into fear, then its disturbance intensifies. I cannot think away anxiety. Thinking about it exacerbates it. Taking targeted action is my prescription towards quelling the forces of my mind that fuel anxiety. My meditation practice has a watchtower effect. It makes me more alert. It nudges anxiety and its associated fears towards wariness, a softer condition of being alert.
I stand in Warrior 1 pose attentively gazing forward but, like a sentry, I imagine eyes in the back of my head. They keep a watchful lookout behind me. Having bidirectional vision while steadying my carriage is an antidote to an anxious mind. There are fewer surprises. I stabilize my mind through my body.
In earlier posts, I’ve also spoken of loneliness. Loneliness is my mind playing games with me. Brandi Carlile sings about the adoption of her daughter in her poignant song, “The Mother.” She sings, “Welcome to the end of being alone inside your mind.” If you are a mother, this song puts it all in perspective. If you aren’t a mother and you are lonely, then I urge you to listen to this song. It speaks to my mind when it lapses into loneliness. It addresses the sensation as beautifully as any song I’ve ever heard, and it fills my heart. When my heart is full, my mind is inhospitable to loneliness.
I’ll step out on the limb of claiming that when I’m loving, or kind, or generous, it is my mind at work. Though the feelings may be in my heart, the expression and reinforcement of the feelings stem from my mind. I’ve already claimed that anxiety is mental. Love, kindness, and generosity mediate anxiety. All of these actions are good for one’s health, and all of them require neurotransmission. As a flint sparks a supply of fuel into energy, an expression of emotion likewise requires a mental spark plug. My mind interacts with my emotions to facilitate the expression of feelings. If I take care of my mind, my emotional flow will improve.
When I’m displeased or angry, my emotional instruments are engaged, but my mind is conducting the orchestra. Though anger is an emotion, it is triggered in the amygdala, a specific region of the brain. If I want to do something to influence my emotions, then it behooves me to do something to take care of my brain.
My self concept is a construct of thought.
Thought is an ingredient in everything I experience. Taking care of my mind is paramount.