The Sublime Art of Cultivating a Beautiful Mind
On the phenomenal power of our thoughts, weedy gardens, and the energy of the immaterial.
Despite the latest findings of neuroscience and psychology in the last decades, we’ve not even come close to solving the mystery of how our brain and mind exactly work. At the same time, we’re aware — some more so than others — of the sheer power of our thoughts with regard to their impact on the quality of our health and human relationships, the level of our vital energy, and the equilibrium of our spiritual identity.
A thought is something we can’t see. We can’t measure it, nor touch it. Nevertheless, we tend to label our thoughts negative or positive, not based on one “Universal Code of a Human Mind” but on how they make us feel and what we’ve been taught is right, or rather wrong, to fill our heads with.
One thing we know for sure, though: While people can steal our ideas, they can’t steal our thoughts.
Your thoughts are only yours. They may connect you to God or to some other higher force that controls creation and destruction within the universe. They connect you to nature and all the living things in it. But they can’t be taken away from you. Only you choose which thought to keep and which one to let go. Only you can shape your life with the help of your own thoughts.
When you let a thought plant its roots in your mind, you’re the one who will ultimately eat its fruit, no matter if it turns out sweet or sour.
The idea that we can control our lives through the power of our own thoughts is exciting and terrifying at the same time. The responsibility such a concept carries within itself is immense. There’s nothing and no one else to blame. Our life is an ultimate mirror reflection of what is happening inside us.
Thoughts transform into emotions. Emotions lead to acts. The energy of the immaterial manifests in the material. And since it is on us to decide what to focus on, any dissatisfaction we may experience in various situations should only motivate us to change our thoughts, rather than to alter the external circumstances.
If you dislike your life, start with beautifying your mind instead of depleting all your energy on trying to change what is happening to you.
Emotions are a signal of our body that some of our needs are not being met, or that they are downright threatened. Our inner balance is disrupted.
Emotions are either born out of desires, instincts or information stored in the unconscious part of our mind, i.e. we don’t have direct access to them and, as a result, we find it difficult to understand what is wrong; or they arrive as a consequence of our conscious analysis of the information that is received from our internal and external environment. In simple terms: something happens (objectively a neutral event), we make a judgment about it (a thought with negative, neutral, or positive charge) and this judgment shows in our body as an emotion (fear, disgust, anger, sadness, joy, surprise…). And if the feeling is unbearable, we may bury it deep into the unconsciousness, which on the one hand will give us a temporary relief but on the other hand will create problems for many years to come, since our body won’t stop broadcasting signals (new distressing emotions, physical ailments, chronic diseases) in the hope that one day we understand their message.
Emotions as such are not bad or good; they are simply pleasant or unpleasant. If we tried to generalize the whole process, we could say that bad thoughts (destructive, harmful…) produce pain (unpleasant emotions), while good thoughts (creative, productive…) produce joy (pleasant emotions). And since like attracts like, through joy we attract what we desire into our lives, and through pain we attract what we fear.
The first step then in cultivating a beautiful mind is AWARENESS.
We spend a lot of our time and energy on deciphering why certain things appear and disappear from our lives, why certain people behave in this or that way, or why we get what we detest and not what we want. We’re constantly asking our mental software for answers, instead of attempting to understand the programming language it had been written in, so that we could ourselves fix the common limiting bugs that stall its performance.
Learn to understand what your mind looks like. When you peek inside, do you see this?
The first case is a metaphoric image of a mind of a person who has only little authority over what thoughts occupy their head. While it’s the nature of thoughts that they can enter a human mind at any time and claim all your attention, they have no power over you until you grant it to them. They are merely ephemeral bits of information that come and go, testing your resolve and character. However, if you do give them the attention, they nest, sprout, and take root so that they can live on both your mental and physical energy for a long time after. It’s as if you let any person who knocked on your door enter and gave them a free pass to use your fridge, bed or bathroom as they pleased.
In the second case, you carefully choose which thoughts you invest your scarce energy into. You’ve probably noticed by now that accumulating sufficient energy levels on a daily basis is quite a feat. You need to have a night of good quality sleep, you need to breathe properly to oxygenate your cells, you need to eat nutritious food, hydrate yourself so the body can perform at its best, and move so you are better at generating energy in the future. And then you can choose to:
a) squander it on energy-sucking, useless and harmful thoughts, or
b) preserve it by letting them go and shifting your focus on thoughts that bring joy, success, and harmony into your life.
Start your journey towards a more beautiful mind by exploring what types of thoughts you let nest there, which thoughts are coming over and over again, which thoughts need to be kicked out and never allowed in again, which thoughts have sprawled so much and rooted so deeply that nothing good can grow in their proximity.
When you’re done with the inventory, move to the second step, and that is to create a STRATEGY on what your mind should look like when you’re done with digging out and chopping off all the weed.
How do you imagine a person who possesses a beautiful mind? A mind that is a safe, comfortable place. A refuge. A mind that serves as a reliable guide at all times.
Such people we meet from time to time. They have a special glow, a sort of aura, around them. People wish to become their friends as soon as they meet them. They have so much inner energy that they share it without asking anything back. They don’t complain. Their gaze is clear. Their handshake firm.
How would your life be different if your mind didn’t drag you down unexpectedly, at the least opportune times? How would your decisions change if you were not limited by emotions born out of thoughts you don’t control?
For me, a beautiful mind is free. I aspire to cultivate a mind that is immune to outer influences. I aspire to cultivate a mind that houses clean, virtuous, fruitful, and creative thoughts, regardless of the emotional challenges my daily reality brings about. I aspire to cultivate a mind so pure and powerful that it attracts only the best people and opportunities to help me meet my purpose. I aspire to cultivate a mind that is so strong that by a simple act of shifting its focus onto something, it will shape the world around, so that nothing can stay in its way. And I aspire to cultivate a mind that is filled with good so that I can not only make an impact with my existence but share it with others and help them grow as well.
My own strategy has been quite straightforward so far. I work hard on maintaining a healthy body, so I can gather enough energy to keep specific thoughts at a safe distance. I practice and challenge myself daily in not losing my focus, so that I can always choose for myself what thoughts I let in and what thoughts I turn down. I always remember that my life reflects the state of my mind, which means that I have full control, even though at certain moments it may seem like the exact opposite.
Your own story is unique as well as your life experience. So take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and take a close look into what is happening inside your head. Observe, learn, and at some point make a plan you can hold on to when the whole world seems to be shouting that you’ve got no control whatsoever.
Then, there’s the final step number three, and that is VISION.
While keeping your mind empty during the state of meditation is a useful technique of many mental, physical, and spiritual benefits, the purpose of a human mind is not to stay idle. It is a supreme tool of life and creation in the universe. And while pulling out all the weed from the garden of our mind is a gargantuan task, filling it back in with thoughts, ideas, and aspirations that support our well-being and stimulate positive change is not any less demanding.
Often, when you start taking control over your thoughts and emotions by removing the unwanted ones, instead of feeling composed, blissful, and at peace right away, as you would expect, you may feel uneasy, confused, and restless.
“What should I think of then? The “bad” thoughts are gone, good for me! But what to do with all that palpable space now?”
If you ever come to such a moment, it’s important not to panic, not to haphazardly start filling your head with random thoughts just so that you numb the chilling silence. Enjoy the power which allows you to observe a thought from a safe distance. Feel it without letting it spread all over. And eventually, choose to let it in or let it go.
Listen without making judgments. Learn something new. Talk to someone you like. Seek joy. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. Breathe. Move. Make love.
Maybe you’ve always believed that what is inside your mind is sacred. No one can see it, no one can steal it. And even if you indulge in bitter, self-destructive, or vicious thoughts, no one will ever know, right? As long as you behave in an acceptable manner on the outside, you’re all good.
But what if you were wrong the whole time? What if your whole life is a manifestation of what is happening right there, in your own mind? And by making it more pure, more beautiful, you could fundamentally change it all by yourself?