“The more tranquil a [person] becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.” –James Allen, 1864-1912, Author of As A Man Thinketh
Of all the challenges in life, calmness of mind is probably one of the greatest challenges for many people, especially in our busy urban society.
One of the reasons for this is that most of us have been far more trained to think from our left-brained programmed mind than from our holistic, spiritually connected, creative right brain. Our programmed ego mind is deeply devoted to controlling our own feelings as well as others’ feelings and actions and the outcome of things. It likes to think non-stop about how to have control. But the challenging thing is that this programmed part of our mind often thinks negatively – thinks about all the bad things that can happen, worries, ruminates, judges, blames, projects, analyzes, and so on. All of these are ways our ego – the programmed wounded part of ourselves – tries to control feelings, people, and outcomes. And the ironic thing is that it creates the exact opposite of a calm mind – the exact opposite of what is needed for wisdom and success.
Our ego mind is our default setting. It is where we will automatically be focused unless we consciously choose an intention other than to protect/avoid/control. When we choose the intention to learn about truth and about what is loving to ourselves and others – what is in our own and others highest good – then we move out of our default thinking and into our right brain.
Moving into the calmness of our right brain takes much practice. Many people meditate for years to attempt to achieve this calmness. The problem is that, while they may achieve calmness of mind during meditation, what happens to the calmness when their intent shifts into wanting to control?
It is our intent that governs whether or not we are able to have a calm mind throughout our day – not just during meditation. Our ego is deeply addicted to thoughts that create fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hurt, and agitation. As long as we unconsciously choose the intent to control, we will automatically think the thoughts that create these painful feelings. We cannot consistently change our thoughts without changing our intent. When we consciously choose a deep intent to learn about truth and love, our thoughts will follow this intent.
What can you do when your ego mind is going full force and you feel stuck in anxiety, depression, panic, fear, and so on? How can you stop these negative thoughts and move into the calmness of your right brain?
Perhaps we can learn something from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, author of “My Stroke of Insight.” Dr. Taylor’s left-brain was completely off line due to a stroke. As it gradually came back online, she decided that she didn’t want to continue with some of her old negative thinking patterns. Not only does she tell her “Peanut Gallery” – her name for her ego – to “Knock it off,” she says it out loud “while waggling my pointed finger in the air, or standing firm with my hands on my hips. A scolding mother is more effective when she says what she means with passion and communicates her message multidimensionally.”
I often see my ego voice like a child or adolescent who is acting out. After becoming aware that my intent is to control and accepting what I can and can’t control, I might say to her, “If you can’t be quiet, you will have to go to you room!” But this works only when I have consciously shifted my intent from controlling to learning about loving myself. Once I do that, I immediately move back into calmness of mind.