The final day of Mental Health Awareness month arrives tomorrow, and we’re bringing the closing chapter to our Mind Series to mark the occasion.
Here, we’ll examine the idea of concious contemplation, and how it can help you claim control of your life and mind. But, what is concious contemplation?
Conscious contemplation is an alternative consciousness that rises above the trivialities, pettiness and base desires that consume the unevolved mind. It is the absolute opposite of addiction, consumerism or any egoic consciousness. It allows us to take full control of ourselves and our surroundings. Through exaggeration, confusion, and distortion, we have allowed our politics, our value systems, and our way of being to fall out of emotional balance. We cannot distinguish worthiness from irrelevancy, and become fogged by fear and insecurity. With the method of conscious contemplation, we can learn to heal our reactive responses by seeking emotional rectitude. It will not just change external behaviour, but internal emotions and responses, our entire pattern of thinking.
Conscious contemplation involves a list of simple practices that you can use in your everyday life to focus and sharpen your mind. Try the following:
- Realign your perceptions: You aren’t your name, or your physical body. You aren’t your job, or the things you own. You are something much deeper, and those other things are just your accoutrements. Don’t focus on these things. Pity people who feel the need to validate themselves with such facile metrics, for they are blinded from the truth of existence.
- Stop rushing: Take everything that comes to you slowly. Do not allow yourself to be panicked into a choice. Stop and smell the flowers once in a while.
- Take control of your thinking and sharpen your focus. Visualise any simple object, like a paperclip, and concentrate your thoughts exclusively on this object for five minutes at a time. Examine its shape, its texture. Move it, reshape it, compress and expand it. In the same way that lifting weights tones your physical muscles, this will tone your psychological muscles, and make you more robust. This will help you guard against intrusive negative thoughts, and filter your mind.
- Develop perspective: Whenever you feel like your mind is racing, go outside and look upwards to the sky. Imagine the vast cosmos beyond you, the endless rolling space, and beyond that, the ethereal dimension outside of observable reality. Remember that the Earth is just a speck of dust in a sunbeam. You, in this life, are just one microcosm in that ineffable, tremendous process of evolution. The stress at your job, with your family, the thousand little tasks you need to get done – none of that really matters. You are so much more than your responsibilities, or your social role. Those things will pass, but your true self will endure through all of it.
- Interact with your environment. Go exploring new places. Don’t just walk to get somewhere, but drift, directionless, and see where the road takes you. Leave your predictable path and develop a new awareness of the landscape around you. The world is a rich tapestry for you to explore and experience.
- Do not compare yourself to others: You can only be yourself, and all you can do is work with your own development. While you can use the actions of others as motivation, excessive comparison with others will not help you. Instead, compare yourself to the person you were yesterday. Have you taken some step forward, even a small one? If so, you are being successful.
- Do not accept criticism from somebody you would not take advice from: It is all too easy to be wounded by jibes and taunts of other people. Sometimes it may be warranted advice, and it is important to take such constructive criticism on board. However, before you let words hurt you, consider the source – is this person a sage and wise person? Are they on the same spiritual path as you? Are they enlightened? If not, then their opinion probably isn’t worth much.
- Reach out to the world: Choose any positive deed, one that you are not being compelled to do, or profiting from, or that somebody else is profiting from, and choose a regular time of day or day of the week to do it. Make sure what you are doing is genuinely helpful to others.
- Do more things for yourself: We live in a society where our personal connection to the world around us is influenced by mechanised production and consumer industry. This means we just buy things, which makes us passive and uncreative. Instead, try baking your own bread, or growing your own vegetables, or building your own furniture. You will take much more accomplishment from this and feel more emotionally linked to the things you use every day.
- Remain unprejudiced: Be open to new experiences and ideas, never letting expectations based upon the past close your mind to the lessons of the moment. See the positive aspects of everything, and make the best out of every situation.
- Put yourself in others’ shoes: Before you criticise somebody, remember that they may not have had the advantages in life that you have. They may lack information you have. Moreover, they may know something you don’t. Do not attack somebody for their failure to comprehend something, or even stubbornness and unwillingness to learn. Only when a person has proven themselves wilfully malicious should you censure them.
- Do not attribute to malice that which can be more easily attributed to something else: It can be an automatic reaction to assume that when somebody does something bad, that it is done out of malice. However, most people are not wilfully evil, and are more likely to have erred out of thoughtlessness, ignorance, or misunderstanding. If you need to challenge somebody on their behaviour, assume they are acting in good faith and will listen to what you say. This will prevent unnecessary hostility.
- Simplify your life: Get rid of the things that are weighing you down. Instead of spending time on social media, meet your friends in person. Stop buying things just for the sake of it. If you live an extravagant lifestyle, you will face the relentless pressure to maintain it. Don’t obsess about getting a promotion at work. Find a job where you aren’t stressed out all the time, even if it means taking a pay cut.
- Review each day: Each evening, take a moment to think back through the events of the day, starting from that very moment and then considering each moment unfolding in reverse from that point. Identify which episodes generated positive feelings and which generated negative ones. Think about why this was, and then use that information to pursue better experiences.
- Experience the year’s unfolding. Plant a tree and watch it grow. An hourglass is a useful symbolic way to synchronise your current static mind with the merging of the past and the future. Be mindful of the passage of time around you in everything you do. This includes both growth and decay. The only thing that exists in the physical realm is this moment right now.
- Keep a positivity journal: Every Sunday, write down five positive things that happened that week. That way, if you’re ever feeling down, you can look back over your journal and see the things you have to be thankful for.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our Mind Series, and learned something this Mental Health Awareness Month. If you are interested in learning further techniques, our new Mindful Living Series is still available. You can watch two recorded webinars right now, and look forward to two live broadcasts in the coming weeks. To find out more, click below: