Monthly Archives: August 2014

Creating Moods

If you don’t like the mood you’re in, create another. There are many ways to create a mood. You can set the lighting, you can put on music, you can go for a walk in nature, you can meditate. All these things can help to dislodge an unwanted mood and make way for a more enjoyable mood. All of these things can show you that you have the power to create a mood. You have even more power that that.

Once you realize that you have power over your moods, your moods lose power over you. Nobody can make you angry, only anger can make you angry. Nothing can make you sad except for sadness. The only reason to feel anxiety is because you are worrying. These moods can all sneak up on you as your circumstances change from moment to moment. You think things in response to what is happening around you and your thoughts give rise to moods. You create these unwanted moods by accident, so it feels like they happen to you. When you practice creating the moods you like, you will surprise yourself with your skill.

The first step in creating moods is noticing your moods. When you find yourself in a mood, notice your thoughts. If you are angry at somebody, forget about them and take responsibility for your own anger. Imagine things from the other person’s perspective. Imagine things from the moon’s perspective. The moon in unconcerned by your anger. When your anger has passed, think of something pleasant, and concentrate on how pleasant feels. If you can feel pleasant, you have created a pleasant mood. That is an extraordinary power.

The more you practice creating the moods you enjoy, the easier it becomes. After a little practice, when you have developed your creative powers, as you keep checking in with your moods, you’ll notice you’re often kind of happy.


Off and On

When we are faced with our own or others’ suffering, it is important to know that there is an off switch. For ourselves, we can learn to access that switch through training our minds. For others, we can demonstrate compassion and kindness and help them to learn to access that switch in their minds.

As we practice intentional compassion and kindness towards others and ourselves we learn to turn off our suffering. As we practice experiencing joy, gratitude, generosity and love we will notice new ways to turn off our suffering. As we practice tuning into our own and others’ suffering we will learn how to notice whenever the switch is on. Then we can practice turning it off again. When we have managed, through our practice, to turn off our own suffering, again and again, we gain confidence in the existence of this switch. Understanding that we can access it when we need to, changes the nature of our suffering. It increases the effectiveness of our practice and increases our desire to help others find how to access their switches.

Some switches are accessible through meditation, others through medication. How we locate our switch is not as important as knowing that it is there and looking for it. Some of our habits turn it on, some turn it off. Each of us has to find our own switch and how to flip it, but we can help each other as we search. Understand that we all suffer, off and on.


If You Can’t Think Something Nice, Don’t Think Anything at All

The practice of mindfulness helps people feel better because it interrupts thinking habits that make people feel worse. Thoughts and feelings are like water and waves. The waves of feeling are composed of the water of the thought. If you suffer from stress, anxiety, anger or depression then your thoughts are continually churning up painful waves of emotions. In order to change the quality of the waves, you need to change the content of the thoughts. If good thoughts are hard to come by, you can still calm your mind by thinking nothing at all. To think nothing, rest your attention on the present moment. There is a quality of peace available in that moment wherever you are, whatever your circumstances.

It is not easy to change the habits of your mind, but it can be done simply. The simple practice of mindfulness is taking a moment to see where you are. In that moment, don’t think about how you got there or where you are going, just check your surroundings. Breathe in deeply to see if there is any oxygen where you are. If you can breathe in some oxygen, then you have something nice in your life. You don’t need to hold on to that oxygen, because there is more, so you let it out. In that moment there is nothing but breathing in and breathing out. If you manage to take a mindful, thoughtless breath, with the intention of finding some peace in the moment, you will likely experience some peace in that moment.

If you are able to clear your thoughts for that moment, then, in the next moment, you can see what kind of thought comes to you. If it is a disturbing thought, you can take another breath and try again. The beauty of the present moment is it carries on forever. You are always experiencing something. There is always some place to rest your attention that can take you beyond your thoughts. As you practice finding some peace in the present moment again and again, you will gain enough strength to start thinking some nice thoughts. For every painful thought that occurs to you, you can counter it with a kind and compassionate thought until the painful thoughts give up. The present will carry on, offering opportunities to find peace in each moment.


Lost Treasure

Seeking inner peace is like looking for a lost treasure. It’s not just any lost treasure, it is your treasure. You lost it. Although it is remarkable that we could ever lose such a treasure, we have. Not only have we lost this treasure, we have forgotten that we ever had it in the first place. That is why we can go about our lives not looking for this treasure. We don’t know we ever had it. We don’t even know it exists. It exists, we had it, and we lost it. Because of that loss we suffer.

We don’t imagine that we are suffering because we have lost the treasure. We imagine we suffer for 1,000 other reasons. If we knew that we had lost our treasure, we wouldn’t worry so much about those 1,000 reasons, we would just look for the lost treasure. If we lose our wallet, keys, phone, tv remote control, or ten dollars, we will look for those things. We will recognize that we are suffering from their loss and we will look for them with a single minded purpose until we find them. We will suffer while we seek for them, knowing that they must be somewhere nearby and we will look everywhere we can think of until we find them. When we find what we are looking for, our suffering stops and we feel joy and relief. What was lost is found.

When our general experience of suffering becomes too difficult, we begin looking for our lost treasure. We search far and wide in therapy, in friends, in activities, in philosophies, in intoxicants, in possessions. We look in all these places, but the treasure is not in these things. It is in us. It is us. We just don’t know that it is there. In order to find this treasure, we have to look in ourselves. We have to look at ourselves. We have to imagine that there is such a treasure and that it is sitting right there in plain sight, waiting for us to see it. Our very suffering, which loss of this treasure inspires, is pointing the way to the treasure, we just have to follow the signs.

As we look deeper and deeper into ourselves, as we look at our joy and at our suffering, we begin to suspect that the treasure that we are looking for actually exists. Then our search may take on more urgency. The search itself will involve suffering. All that searching, seeking and grasping for the treasure puts the treasure just beyond our reach. Finally, when we have exhausted ourselves in our search, we will drop everything and just be who and what we are. At that point, we will see into our essence and that essence will astound us. Upon finding that treasure we will see that we never lost it. We will understand that we are inseparable from it, and we will feel deep inner peace. Hopefully, we would never lose such a treasure again, but we might. Such is our nature.