Sometimes need to tame our mind’s to achieve the personal and spiritual growth we are seeking
Many spiritual disciplines seem to view the mind or ego as something unspiritual that must be overcome. In fact, I believe the mind is as much a part of universal energy as the spirit or soul is. However, we live in a mind dominated society and out psyches can get out of balance. When this happens, taming the mind can help us achieve spiritual growth.
Living in a mind dominated society
In our current society, the gifts of the mind, such as logic, rational thinking, productivity and organisation are highly valued. On the other hand, our more soulful gifts, such as love, empathy, compassion, creativity and intuition tend to be dismissed by society at large.
Since the scientific revolution, we have been taught that we live in a mechanical universe that doesn’t care about us. We have been taught that nature is cruel and that we are ultimately separate and alone. The spiritual viewpoint, that we are all one and part of a universal energy system is dismissed as foolish, old fashioned. It is seen as something fit only for the weak who can’t face cold hard facts.
It is little wonder we have an epidemic of fear, loneliness, isolation, depression, anxiety, addiction and other mental health disorders in western society.
How the mind keeps us trapped in existing knowledge systems
Of course, I can’t prove that we live in a system that is more than just a clockwork universe – though quantum mechanics certainly suggests otherwise. For a long time, I wanted to believe in something more than this, but a lifetime of social conditioning made it impossible for me to believe anything else.
I knew I was out of balance, but whenever I experienced some new way of thinking or being my mind shut it down. My mind was running the show and it simply wouldn’t allow for any insubordination!
How to change your mind
It’s actually quite hard to change your mind.
The neural networks that control our thinking have built up over a long time and through many repetitions. We link new information to these existing networks and simply overlook or disregard anything that doesn’t fit.
There are, however, two ways that your mind can be ‘changed’. Firstly, if we discover some new information that totally, startlingly and convincingly contradicts existing information then our mind and world view can change in an instant.
The second way is slower and more time consuming and requires commitment, but it will get you where you want to be. It involves immersing yourself in new ideas and information until the neural pathways for this new way of thinking become stronger than the older habitual thinking patterns.
For example, if you habitually expect the worse to happen you will have to consciously think positive thoughts and imagine positive outcomes over and over again until the new ‘positive’ pathways become stronger than the old negative pathways. That’s how affirmations work.
So what does this mean for those of us that are trying to end the dominance of the mind and develop more spiritual and soulful ways of living?
Why does this matter for spiritual development and personal growth?
Well, I think it is very hard for the soul to grow without us having some understanding and control of the mind. If the mind is dominant it will simply shut down any hint of anything that doesn’t match its existing worldview. This makes it impossible to believe that anything different is possible.
So the first thing to do is to become more aware of what is going on in our minds. We need to notice the thoughts, examine them and stay alert and awake. This awareness helps us to realize that we are not simply the content of our minds. After all, if I am the one watching and examining my thoughts then clearly ‘I’ am not my thoughts. There must be an ‘I’, that is separate from my thoughts, doing the watching.
A few ways to both ‘open’ and ‘tame’ the mind
Meditation and mindfulness are good ways to become more aware of what is actually going on in our minds. This can really help with our personal development an spiritual growth.
The other way to open our minds to new ways of thinking is to expose ourselves to lots of varying ideas and information. Of course, this has to be done with care. We don’t want to replace one set of false beliefs with another. We should seek information from sources we trust and use our minds to examine it while trying to remain open to a possibility of something being true even though it doesn’t fit with our existing ideas.
Immersing ourselves in quality information, arts, music and literature is a good way to broaden the mind and expose ourselves to new ways of thinking. We can also spend more time in nature as this often relieves stress and allows us to become more open and less mind focused. Exercise can also relieve stress and help us get into a less mind focused zone.
Doing creative work is a tried and tested way to open up new ways of thinking. When doing creative activities we get into a ‘flow’ where the mind seems to take a back seat and a different way of thinking comes to the fore.
At the same time, it is wise to limit negative information, otherwise, you end up brainwashing yourself with bad news. So turn off the rolling news station and stop scrolling through sensational news websites. Also, avoid that colleague at work who never has a good word to say. Try to spend as much time with more positive folk as you can.
Ways to achieve personal and spiritual growth
Here’s a checklist of activities that can help you tame your mind and achieve personal and spiritual growth
- Immerse yourself in quality information and art
- Spend time in nature
- Get Creative
- Protect yourself from excessive negativity
I’d love to know the ways you tame your mind and how this has helped with your personal and spiritual growth. So please share your stories with us in the comments below