The coaching I do is based on the understanding that we experience everything through thought. We cannot experience anything directly. However real it seems, it is always perceived through our state of mind in that moment.
Our state of mind changes from one moment to the next. One moment it is high and we see solutions and possibility. The next moment it is low and we see people who are out to get us and situations that seem impossible. We all experience this. Things that seem insurmountable at one moment, seem manageable in the next. Our spouse or children can seem intolerable at one moment and the loves of our life in the next. It is not the situation and the people that change from minute to minute it is us.
Our state of mind is not in our control. Which would be a problem if we felt we always needed to see solutions and possibility. But when we realise that our state of mind changes all the time, we can just let it do its thing and take it less seriously.
This for me is the end of stress.
Before, when my state of mind dipped and all I saw were problems and awful people, I took this as reality. I thought I had to do something to solve what I was seeing. In that low state of mind, my mind would thrash around trying to come up with an answer it simply couldn’t access. I piled on more anxious thinking and I prolonged my time in this low state of mind.
It didn’t help that stress and anxiety at that time was my navigating system. If it caused stress, then I believed it was worth thinking and worrying about. Stress meant valid, important and urgent. Stress meant taking responsibility. The result of course was more stress.
What a breakthrough it was to realise that in a low state of mind I can’t easily see answers and also that there is nothing I need to do to try to fix that state of mind. High. Low. High. Low. High. Low. High. Low. This is simply the human experience.
When the UK voted to exit the European Union, I plunged into deep anger and dismay about this future division. I deliberately separated myself through my actions and words from those who had voted to leave. I was furious with those people. My stress about a future division led to actual division in my life. Created by me.
In my anxiety about the security of the economy, I cancelled the building work we had planned. My concern about a possible future (and therefore non-existent at that moment) downturn created a real-world, real-time loss of work for a friend and who knows who else as a result.
When I came out of the panic and into a clearer state of mind, I could see that the leave voters were just people like me trying to do their best. I could have actual conversations with people who had voted differently…(!) In a low state of mind, angry at division, I spread division. In a low state of mind, fearful about the economy, I take away income from someone. In a clear state of mind, I am more able to connect and actually hear someone.
If, when I hear of an attack on something I value, my stressful, fearful, low state of mind believes the thoughts telling me to distrust others, particularly those with certain beliefs. I fear and even wish harm on another because of what they think. If I believe my thoughts in a low state of mind and act on them, I am my own version of a terrorist.
In a clearer state of mind, I can look at every person in my life and see where what I believe about them gets it the way of my unconditional love and acceptance. At that moment I can see my thinking. This to me feels like the beginning of the end of discrimination and terrorism. Right here, in this moment, in this house.
When we take this to its logical conclusion we are left with what Garret Kramer, author of The Path of No Resistance, summed up so succinctly: “Any feeling, emotion, judgement, idea, concept or theory that comes from your ability to think (given that it’s subject to change) is not true. Love is the only thing that doesn’t come from your ability to think. Love is the only thing that’s true.”
His words have strong precedence. Gandhi said, “Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love.” and Martin Luther Kind said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
When I take my low state of mind seriously, I am caught up in what I imagine and believe, in fear, anger, anxiety, hate. There are no solutions to this state however much I lose myself in trying to find them.
When I don’t take that low state seriously, I let the roller coaster of mind take its course and soon I will be back in touch with my innate love, creativity, peace and connection. And when the roller coaster goes back down and for that moment I lose that sense of who I am, I know that that is OK too.