Spirituality

Decrease Anxiety through Understanding the 4 Functions of the Mind (Part 1)

You Are Not Your Thoughts

If you’ve ever experienced a hyperactive, anxious and worried mental state, I’m sure you’re familiar with the fear that accompanies it that our mental agitation will never end. It’s common to feel like a victim to our own thoughts and mental states, like we have no power or control over the negative thoughts, feelings and beliefs that the mind circulates.

One of the beauties of yoga and meditation is that it teaches us that we are not our thoughts and to question the voice of the mind to get to the real truth of our selves. For example, one thought stream that many women have is “I am not pretty enough.” Go look in a mirror and notice if this thought or a variation of it begins to circulate within your own mind, spiraling you into a state of self-criticism and negativity.

This is a thought that is most commonly not based upon present moment reality, but based upon a stored childhood experience where we have an experience of not receiving the love we needed. The mind of a child needs to bargain and create reasons for why we did not receive the love we wanted, so we may subconsciously being to blame it on how we look. If only we were prettier, then we would receive the love and attention we so desperately want. 

The reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Yet, you cannot convince a child’s mind of this. And now anytime receive evidence that we are unloved, it is linked hand in hand with a feeling of “not pretty enough.” This pattern becomes a part of how our brain is programmed to think, behave, and move through life.

This isn’t a process based on logic on consciousness. In fact, these patterns stored are often highly illogical and so subconscious we’re not even aware they exist. I’m sure you can easily think of a friend who has a similar self-critical mental dialogue, despite their beauty, intelligence, and success. Our thoughts create storylines based on past experience that often feed into our own neuroses to keep us in circumstances that feel familiar and therefore “safe.” Yet, these patterns in the brain can end up extremely limiting for what we consciously want to create in our lives.

The part of the mind that is ego attaches itself to these stored experiences to create part of our self identity in terms of our roles and experiences in life. We give ourselves labels that box us into different realities, which may be far from the ultimate truth. 

Yet, there is another part of the mind that calls us toward evolving, questioning our thoughts, and healing past pain patterns that have been stored in our nervous systems. In yoga, we call this part of the mind “Buddhi.” We will talk more about these parts of the mind next week.

For now, I’d like you to know and consider your thoughts as a powerful asset that can either assist you in evolving and living a wholesome life, or which keep you stuck in fear and pain.

Take the next week or so to simply be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. You may even begin to question your thoughts by noticing when a certain thought arises and asking yourself, “is this true?” You don’t even have to have an answer to the question but the simple act of asking it begins to create new circuitry in your brain from being a victim of the mind, to reclaiming your sense of power and autonomy within your own headspace.

If you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, please leave a comment below or if you know someone who might benefit please feel free to do so also.


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