That’s it. Great rule to live by. That’s all it is, complete wisdom in one sentence:
Don’t believe everything you think.
Maybe you’re like me. I have a busy, busy mind. My mind is interesting – yes, very interesting. Your mind is interesting, too. I guarantee that! I’m smart. I’ve known that since I was young. I’m sure you’re smart, too. Those things are true.
We honor the mind, our thinking mind, in our culture. If we think something, we believe it is true. As human beings – as these wonderful works of wisdom – we limit ourselves by living within the cultural constraints of our minds. It is counter-cultural to open yourself to the wisdom that lives within you, within you and outside of the limitations of your thinking, even your best thinking.
Thinking can only take us so far – and there is so much farther to go! Your body is a place of wisdom. Begin to know your body’s wisdom by feeling your feelings. When something happens to you, take a moment to experience that event in your body. What are you feeling? Breathe! Breathe for a moment, and feel the breath in your body. Now, what are you feeling?
As you practice this, you can begin to name your feelings.
A long time ago, someone asked about me: “I wonder if she knows the difference between her thoughts and her feelings?” I am grateful that I took notice of that comment. Do I know the difference? I do now. From that moment on, I began to observe – to feel – my feelings. That in itself is a journey. When we begin to include our feelings in our answers, in our decisions, in our observations, we encounter another dimension of ourselves. When we include our feelings, our perceptions deepen, our love deepens, our experience deepens.
Your body has a wisdom that your thinking mind cannot perceive. In a way, your thinking mind is on one plane of existence. The wisdom that is beyond your thinking mind has deep roots, roots in the earth. The wisdom beyond your thinking mind perceives on many levels, levels that your thinking mind simply cannot conjure up!
If you are sad, feel sad. That is practice. If you are lonely, feel lonely. That too, is practice. If you are happy, feel happy. That is practice. From moment to moment, the practice of reaching beyond our thinking mind takes us into new territory.
A good parent teaches feelings to their child by mirroring those feelings. When the baby cries, mom will say: “oh, you are sad.” Or she will say: “you are angry that your plate fell on the floor.” Dad will say to a toddler: “you are frustrated because you can’t reach the ball.” Sometimes, we have to mirror our own feelings to ourselves. We have to begin again to learn about ourselves, and about our own perceptions of the world.
Maybe you’ll need help as you begin to discern your feelings. Maybe a therapist can help, a professional who can ask you, again and again: “So… how do you feel about that?” Maybe a spiritual guide can teach you to listen to your body’s wisdom as much as your mind’s wisdom. Maybe a 12 step meeting will be the place you begin to learn.
Each one of these places can be the doorway to growth, to growth in consciousness.
Such simple practice, to not believe everything you think! And at the same time, such a deep, profound, ever-expanding practice.
For today: don’t believe everything you think! Give it a try!