There’s nothing like a mandate to stay in one place to help us see how neurotic the mind can be. These days, as I spend most of my time at home, I’ve made it a practice to carefully watch my thoughts. The goal is to stay in present-moment time as much as possible because it’s truly the best way to enjoy life regardless of what’s happening in the outer world.
The practice can be quite entertaining when you become a witness to the neural networks that get triggered by the simplest things. Here’s an example of what I mean:
Michael and I have been waiting to adopt a new kitten (or maybe even kittens) and because so many people are rescuing animals right now (yay!) and most shelters are closed to the public, it’s been a bit of a challenge finding our next furry family member. Last week, however, we learned of two adorable kittens that may be available in early September. I was excited and a little nervous when I received the news, mostly hopeful that they’d be a good match.
Later that day, as I thought about the kittens, I watched as my mind started looking for things to worry about. Was it really the best time to adopt an animal given the challenges of the pandemic and receiving vet care? Were we ready to give up our freedom? What if the foster parents fell in love with the kittens and decided to keep them?
As the crazy train left the station, I watched it pick up steam, and rather than stay on board, I used humor to stop it in its tracks. Yes, Cheryl, I told myself, it’s probably the worst possible time to adopt an animal. And of course you don’t want to give up your freedom right now because God knows you have so many places to go. And those foster parents? Yup, I have no doubt that they’ll fall in love with the kittens and keep them. As a matter of fact, I suspect most foster parents will fall in love with the animals they’re caring for so there probably won’t be any cats available for the foreseeable future!
It was that last thought that got me laughing and I quickly let the whole thing go.
Humor is my ticket to freedom these days.
The mind is like a train. The minute you put a thought on board – especially one that bothers you – the train takes off and starts building momentum. One fearful thought leads to another and before you know it, your mind is barreling along onboarding more and more negativity. Suddenly you’re making assumptions, establishing expectations, planning for problems, and eventually telling yourself worst-case scenario stories that would rival any juicy TV series.
As the train picks up steam, you not only become obsessed with worrisome thoughts, you start talking about them with other people (giving them more energy). You may even begin to act in ways that attempt to manipulate the outer world to get what you want (or don’t want).
The quicker you stop the train – and I recommend using humor to do so – the easier it is to prevent the suffering that happens when we fight with reality. The mind loves the ride but the soul is a far better conductor. When you catch yourself hopping on board (and it’s the soul that will catch you, by the way), simply tell yourself to stay put.
It’s a spiritual practice to keep the train at the station.
As we move toward the fall here in the states and face fears about the pandemic or the presidential election, I suspect they’ll be plenty of opportunities to climb aboard the crazy train. Please don’t do it. We need you centered, filled with good energy, clear-minded, and present for what is, not what could be.
Let’s all stay at the station ????.