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Turning the Mind Into an Ally

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I think many of us, if not all of us, can relate to this statement. We envision how our life is supposed to be, and when our expectations aren't met in reality, we become unhappy and unable to live at peace in the present. Reflecting on the moment, and if we're willing to dig deep, we will find the cause of our fear, depression, frustration, and hurt isn't the situation itself but rather our thoughts surrounding the circumstance that we've come to believe as Truth. But, how do we get there? How do we get to the spot where we can identify and question those thoughts and then undo them, bringing us back to our awakened, connected, creative self?

It's all about working backwards...breaking your thoughts down to the smallest unit until the real Truth of who you are and what is happening is understood. It is there, you can learn, grow, and proceed.

The easiest and fastest way I've found to get to that point is through The Work of Byron Katie. In five steps, Katie provides a way to dismantle your thoughts in order to find freedom from the mind's trap. Ask yourself these four questions and find the turnaround statements:

1. Is it true? • The answer is a “yes” or a “no” only. • If your answer is “no,” continue to question #3. 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?3. How do you react when you believe that thought? • What emotions happen when you believe that thought? • Describe the physical sensations that happen when you believe that thought. • How do you treat that person, others, and yourself when you believe that thought? 4. Who would you be without the thought?5. Turn the thought around. Statements can be turned around to the self, to the other, and to the opposite, and occasionally there are other variations as well. When dealing with an object, you can replace the object with “my thinking” or “my thoughts.” Find a minimum of three genuine, specific examples of how each turnaround is as true as or truer than your original statement.

When I do The Work, I always (always!) find instant acknowledgement of the attachment to and power of my thoughts, which is what causes most of my pain, and instant clarity as to where my feelings originated, which is often not where I imagined. Doing The Work is so simple and yet so surprisingly rewarding. Give it a try next time you’re feeling weighted, and let me know how it goes!

Another helpful resource: Turning the Mind Into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham

Sakyong Mipham shows how to cultivate a strong stable mind and no longer live “at the mercy of our moods.” His stories and wisdom from American culture, as well as from the great Buddhist teachers, help demystify this essential discipline and place it in the framework of Western culture. Accessible, practical, and clear, it provides readers with the necessary tools for taming the mind.