Life can become a narrow tunnel in times of distress when we zip ourselves up into our minds. It happens every day, we align with our ego, rather than our heart, which causes undue suffering. Whether it’s someone we dislike or an unpleasant event, when we believe the story that our mind is telling us we forget who we really are. We become a sliver of ourselves. And, quickly we lose sight of the light that is in and around us.
That little voice in the back of our minds that starts rationalizing our feelings? That’s another way to describe the ego. The ego’s main job is to protect us, but sometimes our conscious mind kicks into overdrive. It’s during these times that we begin to suffer. What we really need is freedom from the stories our minds create; freedom from distress.
The mind and the brain are two different things. We don’t yet know where consciousness lives in the brain, but we do know it’s only a tiny part. Other than the mind there are so many other parts to us – the rest of our bodies and our essence.
The brain and heart are connected, too. As life comes from the heart, so it controls the brain. What we’ve learned, now, is that it’s a two-way dialogue. The majority of communication starts with the heart first. It’s believed that the heart sends more information to the brain than vice versa. Therefore, it is important to listen to the way our heart feels, rather than what our mind is saying.
It’s almost as if we are the ocean…expansive and wide open. Our mind is a tiny vessel floating along the horizon. We cannot discount the vessel, but we must put it into perspective with the water and sky.
So, what do we do when our ego senses distress? Rather than isolate with the story in our mind, try this:
- Accept the way you feel. Tell yourself it’s ok that I feel this way. It’s ok that I’m in ego. Once we allow ourselves our feelings, then we can work with it. This is the biggest resistance to keeping our hearts open.
- Don’t explore the story, explore the feeling in your body.
Zoom out and look at the big picture, pain is a tiny part and temporary. But how do we zoom out? Here’s a few tips:
- Personify the emotion. Think of it as a wave or weather. The important thing is to remember the emotion is not you it is only part of you.
- Connect with your tender heart. The ego thinks it is protecting us so we close down, but by opening our heart we are able to do the opposite. Use your senses and call to mind a song, a sound, or a smell that softens your heart.
- Use a mantra; a language. For instance when you notice you are in your head, say “I am thinking.”
- Give your ego a name and also boundaries. Acknowledge your ego, and dismiss it like a passing acquaintance or coffee date.
Often, we hear the term closed minded – it’s when we cling to the past or long for the future. A healthy way to live is by being open hearted; present. In order to live with an open mind and open heart, we have to be willing to let go of the safety our ego tries to provide. We must rest easy and without suffering in the knowledge that we have all we need in the present moment – free of distress.
Please contact Rachel Gordon if you have questions about Buddhist psychology and integrative, holistic techniques to address mental health issues and promote total body wellness. If you live in the Denver/ Castle Rock area and would like to learn more about what Rachel has to offer through Humble Warrior Therapy, please call (303) 688-6698 or click here to schedule.
Tags: Buddhist Psychology, Distress, Feelings, Holistic Health, Mental Health, Suffering