Life is an ongoing exercise in overcoming our deepest fears. We all have fears, but they are basically imaginary fears. We create fears all the time, and by doing so we create our identities around them.
The mind is constantly trying to label every experience and place it into a category. The thoughts we have about an experience does not accurately represent that experience. It only points towards the interpretations we make based on fear. It takes a daily practice for us to actively be aware of all our thoughts and observe them without attaching meaning to them.
We need to take a leap of faith every single day and start anew. Every day is a new opportunity to be reborn, fresh and unencumbered by the experiences we had before in similar situations. It takes observation and a total state of presence in order to transcend the myriad of thoughts that run wild in our minds, stories we keep telling ourselves over and over again.
I always think about the old bumper cars when I think about how the mind operates. The most common bumper car designs uses a conductive floor and ceiling. Contacts under the vehicle touch the floor while a pole-mounted contact touches the ceiling, completing the circuit. Our contact with reality send information to the brain that uses significant neural pathways according to the thoughts triggered by the experience. In our case, it is as if we were wired to connect to certain electrical, neural pathways and then we react accordingly.
The practice of mindfulness will enable us to become aware of the thoughts in our minds and be able to discern that they do not represent the experience and stay away from the story that’s being generated. In every situation, it all boils down to how we respond. Typically, two types of energy establish the quality of our lives: love and fear. We are in constant relationship with the world and we either respond with love or react with fear.
When we react, we are at the mercy of our thoughts and emotions without the inner awareness necessary to make effective and functional choices. When we respond, however, we are operating from a neutral standpoint where we are no longer following the dictates of the unbridled flow of thoughts. We recognize and are aware of their presence, but we no longer attach meaning to them. As soon as we become mindful of this dynamics we set ourselves free and are able to make choices that are poised and centered.
We are free to choose in every situation how we want to respond. We need to practice mindfulness in order to exercise this power and make our lives richer and more fulfilling. It is a constant practice of ongoing observation. Whenever a thought comes we need to question the validity of that thought, and transcend it.
There’s a constant chatter inside our minds and it is up to us if we want to pay attention to it, or let it dwindle away every time we disconnect our attention from that thought. After all they have no real substance; they are all thoughts, stories, jabbering. The image they create might seem initially real, but when we look closely, they dissipate. In the end, those seemingly sharp knives are rather dull, and they vanish as soon as we dare to touch them.