Any time I face a problem or stressful situation in my life my mind overpowers me. My mind actually turns against me. It uses all my insecurities, doubts, fears and resentment against me. I allow the negative thoughts to linger and I dwell on them constantly while concocting plausible solutions to get rid of the negativity. This continuous habit of almost 30 years has got to go. I need to do something immediately about it so that I can either stop the negative flow of thoughts or increase the amount of positive thoughts. But, first things first, I need to understand how the mind works and its purpose.
The mind is a tool that is supposed to help you solve problems, follow direction, create things and it serves many other functional purposes. If used correctly, the mind can create beautiful masterpieces or solve catastrophes. All in the same breathe, however, the mind also loves to complicate things, plan, over-analyze and fabricate future possibilities based on past experiences. This tool needs rest just as much as it needs nourishment. We all nourish our minds daily with new information by learning new tasks, reading a book or maybe going to school or by training to update our skills. But rarely, do we set aside time to turn off the mind and allow it to rest and just be. Because, it is during these rest periods that we develop mental awareness.
Now that I know what the mind does, I ask what is mental awareness? My interpretation is, the ability to set aside pride and ego and be still. Mental awareness is being conscious or aware of the thoughts that are occurring inside you, both positive and negative, and allowing the right voice to guide you. We all have two voices, our inner voice and the voice in our head, or our mental voice. The mental voice creates fear, doubt, resentment, hate, jealousy, greed and etc. The inner voice guides you and speaks the truth about what actually makes you happy. Mental awareness occurs when you allow the inner voice to overpower the mental voice. The ultimate goal while developing mental awareness is to rid yourself of the mental voice during the rest periods so you can hear your inner voice speak.
Mental awareness develops through practice. Practice of consciousness of your thoughts. It is the ability to stop certain negative and hindering thoughts from processing. Mental awareness is developed by paying less attention to the complications and problems created by the mind and allowing those thoughts to pass. But let’s be honest, this is very difficult to do and requires a lot of patience with yourself. Have you ever sat alone and tried to shut off your mind only to have a magillion thoughts flying and racing through your head?
So, how does one develop their mental awareness? You have to consciously want to focus your attention on the positive thoughts you have while allowing the negative thoughts to occur and pass without putting too much attention on them. Sounds simple enough right? Well, it’s actually a lot more difficult than you can imagine. I have been personally trying to develop mental awareness by following 10 simple conscious thoughts while I sit alone and allow my mind to rest. I allow these thoughts to occur but do not put any emphasis on them, and then they pass and don’t control my life or decisions.
Here is a list of 10 conscious thoughts I use to help develop mental awareness while I rest my mind:
- DON’T dwell on the past
- DON’T waste time feeling sorry for yourself
- DON’T give away your power or control
- DON’T waste time and focus on things that you cannot control
- DON’T worry about pleasing everyone
- DON’T fear change
- DON’T repeat the same mistakes over again
- DON’T give up after failure
- DON’T expect immediate results
- DON’T resent and focus on other peoples success
So to recap, by choosing to focus on the negative thoughts you fuel the mental voice. The idea is to fuel the inner voice. In order to fuel the inner voice you have to rest the mind. Once you rest your mind you begin to allow deep thoughts to develop. While allowing both positive and negative thoughts to occur, you practice mental awareness by choosing to concentrate on the positive thoughts, which is essentially guided by your inner voice. You start to notice that negative thoughts can exist without it consuming your whole mind or life and thus not controlling your decisions. As you practice choosing the positive thoughts you apply mental awareness. Thus, finally allowing your inner voice to speak and guide you.
Time to reflect:
Next time you’re using your tool, the mind, allow some much needed rest time. During your rest period allow yourself to have any thoughts, both positive and negative, pass it, and just be still. The more you practice doing this, the stronger your mental awareness will be. But remember, you have to keep practicing otherwise you will go back to your old ways and your mind will control you again. Good luck!
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives”. ~ Henry David Thoreau