Where do I even begin with this post? How many times have I gotten myself into trouble, how many problems have I created through being under the assumption that there was a problem to begin with in the first place? Acting under assumptions has led to devastating consequences for me and I was lucky enough to have someone very special to me teach me, “don’t believe everything you think.”
Getting lost in the mind is dangerous and scary. It breaks my heart that there are so many people in this world that don’t have access to communities and relationships that are having conversations like this. Had I not joined that gym with yoga classes, had I not become immersed in the yoga lifestyle, had I not been introduced to Buddhism and meditation, I would be stuck where I was for so many years, I would still be stuck in the prison of my own mind, still believing awful, terrible things about myself and others with no way out.
Becoming conscious of when I act or speak under assumptions, the reality that my mind has created for me, has been one of the hardest things that I’ve ever practiced. So hard in fact, that I have no advice to give anyone else on it. I find myself failing at it constantly and it causes me a great deal of angst. I haven’t posted in two weeks because I assumed that I had no right to have this conversation over my blog if I didn’t have a success story to tell. For the last couple weeks, I’ve found myself in a state of anxiety, anxiety so fierce that it’s left me paralyzed in bed, on the couch, in the shower. I haven’t wanted to leave the house because my mind is showing me the terrible things that might be coming to fruition: my failure (as a teacher, student, girlfriend, friend, daughter, sister, aunt), the state of my finances, the never-ending cycle of addictions that pop up anytime I experience a moment of boredom…
I’m having a hard time. I don’t (yet) have a story of triumph and victory to share. I am at tipping point where I’ve realized that I could have quite possibly made much better decisions that would have saved me a lot of heartache. I do see that this paralyzing anxiety is scrambling my ability to reason and discern what’s actually going on. There have been so many times that I have snapped at someone or something working only under the story that my mind has created. Isn’t that insane? Isn’t that crazy that we all unknowingly engage in this ignorant behavior all the time? My hope is that through this conversation, you can at least bring some awareness to it. Take a moment to pause and ask yourself if you really know what’s true. I’ve talked in previous posts about remaining impartial and practicing equanimity– this is it! Forming opinions on people and things is one of the ways that the mind keeps us captive! Those opinions turn into out-of-touch stories, which show us our neurosis, our insecurities, our judgments. These stories turn us into our most neurotic, insecure, judgmental selves. And then we make irrational decisions, say irreversible things and cause suffering for everyone involved.
I wish someone had this conversation with me before I was 29. I wish I didn’t look back and see 29 years of saying and doing things based on oblivion. But when I try to look for the good in the situation, I very clearly see, without any dirt in my eyes, that I at least know it now. As I said, working with acknowledging my presumptive behaviors has been difficult to say the least. I don’t usually realize that I’ve reacted under a mind-made story until after the fact, when I feel some sort of loss of morality, a piece of what makes me good. I have reached a new depth in connection with my yoga practice. My yoga practice has helped ease the lasting anxiety that I feel when I see that I’ve reacted before I reasoned. It gives me the space to breathe and see that there are still more opportunities to try. I’ve been approaching my practice with more of a beginner’s mind, attempting poses that I would normally skip because of the story my mind has made up, because of what it tells me my experience will already be like. We can do this in our interactions with ourselves and the external world. Next time you feel resistance, next time you feel fired up, angry, pissed off– before you say or do anything ask yourself, do you know the whole or even part of story? Or do you just see what your mind is showing you? Slow down, ask questions and don’t believe everything you think.