“The kingdom of heaven in not a place but a state of mind.” ~ John Burroughs
Your state of mind is a fleeting experience which can change thousands of times throughout the day without your really noticing. As you go through the events of your day you will often react to circumstances, events and experiences in either a positive or negative way – or not at all.
Your past experiences can intrude on present day events and haunt you, bringing back uncomfortable memories and conflicting emotions. People, conversations and events can trigger deep seated emotional stumbling blocks and our reactions can bring about a different and sometimes undesirable state of mind.
Our upbringing, life history, current circumstances and general consistent world view all have an effect on our dominant state of mind which ultimately determines – to what degree is debatable, our choices and decisions which effect our lives.
For example we have all seen the effects of a negative and angry person repelling others. It can be a very destructive state. Conversely a positive and pleasant demeanour can attract people and positive circumstances and create something very different.
So if our state is so important to the positive progress of our lives, wouldn’t it be a good idea to control this state to bring about a more positive and pleasing outcome? Most people don’t realise that they can be in charge of their emotional state at any given time. Of course there will be times when we are upset and down and times when we are elated and happy but there is often thousands of states in-between which we do not consider. We are often more concerned with controlling others or the outer circumstances of our lives than our inner state.
Some people are naturally very good at controlling their state but do so unconsciously and largely the idea of controlling our state of mind goes overlooked. Often our obsession with achievement or ‘getting somewhere’ becomes the most important thing in our lives to the point where we become intolerable to others. We might achieve a particular outcome in one aspect of our lives only to lose touch with another – achieving prosperity but losing a loved one, for example.
So how do we start to be in control of our state?
How many times has a messy environment intruded into your peace of mind? Even at a largely unconscious level a messy environment does effect us. We struggle to find things, are disorganised and our mess reflects our unconscious mind. If we live in a messy environment for long enough it intrudes into the rest of our life.
Your environment is very important when it comes to state of mind. Just get up and walk through your house. In each different room you will notice a change in your state albeit a very subtle one. Go outside and walk down the road. Your state will change again. In ‘The Secret’ film Jack Canfield talks about putting himself in environments which bring him joy. He consciously chooses his environments in order to bring about a positive state.
Do you have one of those friends who zaps your energy? Or someone who is always complaining? How about a friend or relative who lights you up with their positivity? Which one would you rather be around? Sometimes an overly positive person can be out of tune with our current thinking and even bring us down! Do your friends and relatives share your goals in life or is there a nagging feeling that you are with the wrong person for some reason. This is your body giving you subtle clues. Listen to it.
The circumstances of your life have largely been brought about by the way you think and feel about yourself and what you can achieve in the world. Often they will be less than desirable. If you are working in a job that you are fighting with, chances are that you may not be enjoying life as much as you could be. What would you really enjoy doing? If money was no object what would you do? A lot of your time might be spent doing your work so wouldn’t you rather be spending your life doing something which you love?
Become aware of the day to day activity which is going on behind the scenes. What is the inside chatter going on in your head? Meditation is a good way to learn how to control your ‘inner chatter’. Sit quietly and focus on your breathing. Notice any thoughts which arise. Do not give them any power or engage with them but simply observe and bring your attention back to you breathing. Breathing in through the nose and out through the month. Do this for at least 5 minutes on the first sitting then increase the time steadily as you get more comfortable. Once you find a peaceful state of mind behind all the worldly chatter you will want to practice more and more. This magical peaceful state will become more and more imbibed into your life the more you practice.
5. Consciously directing our awareness
Sometimes things come up in our minds eye which signal that we have to deal with something. It is a sign from our subconscious which means that we should take action. However some of our thoughts are simply background chatter and anxieties which have resulted from giving too much attention to any one thing or a negative aspect of our lives. If something is disturbing you which you can do nothing about other than get more annoyed and upset it might be time to remove yourself from the situation. If it it simply a negative ‘background chatter’ then direct your mind to something which makes you feel really good instead. If you can’t let go of it something needs to be done. Take action and then focus on something more positive. People who have unconsciously become very good at controlling their state do this automatically. Have you noticed how they very seldom get upset about things or take things personally? They simply don’t engage in negative self talk. Make it a conscious habit to direct your mind away from the things which upset you towards the things which make you happy.
Ask and it is given is a great book for consciously directing your state of mind. In one chapter there is an exercise which is about directing your mind to affirm those things which you are grateful for. You can create a notebook and write down all the things which you are grateful for. Go through it feeling in your body your appreciation for the things which you have in your life which you truly value. Give some thought to what you are truly grateful for on a regular basis and you will see the magic it brings into your life.
Consciously controlling your state of mind is a hugely overlooked asset in your daily life which can have magical results. It is particularly useful for the self employed whose state determines their productivity. Stuart Ross discusses controlling state of mind in his online mentorship course.