Rigidity and toughness, combined with a mirror-like polish, are highly desired results when it comes to refinishing fine furniture. Layer upon layer of stain and varnish must be carefully applied to create just such a refined product.
Although, while perhaps desirable when dealing with elegant furniture, it is much less constructive and productive when it comes to our human minds.
Since birth our brains are perpetually and quite unconsciously fed a slew of sensory input. Our minds analyze and assign meaning to each, which, like that furniture veneer, creates layer upon layer of notions, biases, and beliefs.
Most of us accept what we believe to be true simply because our old beliefs are consistently validated through a process known as Confirmation Bias.
Confirmation bias, also known as confirmatory bias or myside bias, is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms our preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.
The subconscious mind makes no distinction whether or not our reasoning and resulting deduction is based on solid logic. Like a computer hard drive, it simply stores the input we feed regardless of truth or validity.
Therefore, if we have previously made an incorrect analysis, any future input data filtered through this faulty analysis will be distorted and misrepresented. In essence, one falsehood will perpetuate another.
As with a computer, if the code is flawed, so too will the resulting output be erroneous.
Lacking any meaningful checks and balances, most of us remain woefully ignorant of this detrimental process.
The moral of the story; “Don’t believe everything you think.”
As with many in life, I have sought to achieve a greater level of inner awareness. This intimate mental sojourn enabled me to uncover another undeniable personal flaw. Quite unconsciously, I found myself continually judging others in an almost knee-jerk fashion.
If I noticed an overweight person eating at the mall, I instantly felt appalled and disgusted. So too, seeing a poorly dressed person on the street would immediately have me questioning their work ethic or personal hygiene.
I knew nothing of these people’s circumstances or as to why they were the way they were. What I did know was that I felt ashamed and embarrassed for so quickly reverting to these negative stereotypes.
I reasoned quick enough that these unwanted thoughts were arising entirely unguarded from my subconscious mind. Both unconsciously and consciously, I had allowed my mind to create a myriad of negative links. More specifically, neurological associations.
“Nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.”~Buddha
Pushing Our Boundaries
I soon concluded that to feel at peace with others, I first had to find peace within myself.
This required a re-evaluation of my every thought, belief, and assumption.
In essence, a wholesale mental review of both my personal and professional relationships.
“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.”~Anaïs Nin
For many, an external conflict at the workplace or in our personal lives results in a stressful inner conflict. That argumentative boss or unyielding relative creates excessive anxiety that can quickly transmute into mental illness or physical disease.
Others develop destructive habits invoking alcohol or drugs to better cope with certain people or circumstances. This harmful behavior only serves to exacerbate an already troubling situation.
Creating Your Own Peace Practice
As a result of my desire for inner peace, I developed what I term a “Daily Peace Practice.” A personal practice that can include but is not restricted to disciplines such as yoga, tai chi, qigong, martial arts, pilates, and meditation. Even playing an instrument or reading a good book can serve the same higher purpose.
Developing an inner healing peace practice can help reduce our dependency on drugs and alcohol. As one’s level of inner awareness rises, the need or desire to intoxicate the mind decreases correspondingly.
Learning to acknowledge and diagnose our thought process is an excellent first step in empowering our minds. Doing so allows us to better distinguish between thoughts that further our goals and beliefs that are holding us back.
You Are Not Your Thoughts
Too often, we think of our thoughts as being somewhat real, concrete, and tangible when in fact, they are self-created delusions of our mind. The only reality they possess is the reality that we assign them.
“Leave your front door and your back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea.”~Shunryu Suzuki
By adopting one or two self-awareness peace practices, not only will you significantly reduce your stress levels, but your sense of calm, control and groundedness will increase dramatically.
You should fully expect these new practices to be challenging to instill consistently at the outset. After all, you have spent an entire lifetime unconsciously training your brain to react instinctively to any given stimuli.
This repetitive hardwiring of our brains has resulted in us responding reactively rather than proactively to many situations.
Like Pavlov’s Dogs, we have unwittingly disciplined ourselves to answer to the bell without any given conscious thought.
The lights are on be we aren’t present.
Having relinquished our thought responses to the subconscious mind, we are meander through life blind. Oblivious to the driving force behind our every thought, action, and deed. Leaving us in the unenviable position of being mastered by our minds rather than being the master of our minds.
“The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”~Robin Sharma
Incorporating a Daily Peace Practice teaches the discipline of directing our thoughts rather than having our thoughts direct us. Feeling more at peace with yourself will inevitably enable you to be more at peace with others.
Your light will, in turn, encourage and prompt others to come out of their own darkness.