Every action begins with a single thought. And every thought, be it positive or negative, is powerful. Once I realised that, I knew that I can only progress from then on.
Prior to that, however, my head was littered with negativity. As a consequence, mostly everything else faltered. It affected my daily tasks, my academic performance, learning process, fitness level, eating habits, and even the things I used to enjoy doing. Those negative thoughts fed the insecurity, doubt and fear. And so for a period of time, I wasn’t improving in any way and my life felt stagnant.
I guess being in a different environment, moving away from home as well as finding inspiration on the Internet (self-helping), catalysed this realisation that I am here on Earth for some reason and that this stagnation is not sustainable. It would destroy me even more if I continue to allow negativity to control me. I just wanted to get away from or perhaps banish the black hole anchored in my mind.
It was no doubt difficult to do so considering the primary source of information I sought was the Internet—YouTube specifically. I did not seek help from immediate people around me due to intimidation. I was already feeling doubtful and fearful so it did not make sense to me at the time to tell people of my dilemma only to possibly receive chastisement. At least I was determined enough to accept advice from virtual strangers.
I eventually managed to switch my mind from negative thinking to a more positive one. However, I did not follow any exact steps or method. It was more of a slow, gradual process for me, although I did fall back a few times. I am not quite certain of how I succeeded in doing so except that I put my foot down and decided to immerse myself with pertinent issues through reading, watching inspirational videos online, and discovering spirituality.
The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari laid down the methods that might speed up the enlightenment process had I read it a few years back. But I thought it is still a relevant exercise that I can still do now. And anyway it is good to refresh one’s thoughts and purpose every now and again.
The first of the seven essential values to an enlightened life is to Master Your Mind, as I alluded to in the first several paragraphs. This would be the garden in your mind that you would have to cultivate and nurture so that it is beautiful, abundant and alive. It is like feeding your body with nutrients so that you can physically develop. Your mind is like your body; it needs the proper input to function optimally. If you can take the time to feed your body, why should you neglect your mind?
I guess sometimes we forget that our brains and our bodies are connected rather than distinct, and that our bodies receive instructions from our minds.
To control your mind is to cultivate focused thoughts. When I had a million unnecessary thoughts and worries swimming in my head, I could not actually get things done and if I did, the outcome was mediocre at best. So this is where meditation came in. I began learning how to breathe. Of course we all breathe but how many people are actually aware of the pattern of our breaths?
I practiced the technique every day. It is really simple. I would just sit cross-legged in my room, close my eyes and breathe. I examined every inhalation and exhalation, extending each of them, engaging my diaphragms, and got into a rhythm. I consciously relax every inch of my body from the tip of my head, to my shoulders, hips, knees, and toes. I got acquainted with every muscle in my body. Acknowledging my presence was the first step to a long and faithful relationship with myself.
Once my body and I were on good terms, I started adding positive thoughts into my mind. The best way to get started is to express gratitude. I am grateful for the body I have to be able to move about. I am grateful for this bed I am sitting on. I am grateful for the roof over my head that keeps me safe. I am grateful for the clothes I am wearing. So on and so forth.
This expression of gratitude grounds my soul. It makes me realise how fortunate I am in spite of hardship, and that the difficulties actually do not value much compared to the immense wonderful occurrences in life. And immediately after that exercise, I felt lighter and happier. It is truly a matter of perception.
I like this quote from the book:
There are no mistakes, only lessons.
If we can tune our thoughts to believe that, I think we can each improve tremendously because then there is no pressure put upon us. Mistakes are often associated with punishment and derogatory remarks that do not effectively contribute to our personal growth. Instead, if we think of experiences as lessons i.e. understanding that there is something to be learnt and improved on, then there is a better chance that we could make progress.
Thoughts are energy, and energy manifests into productivity. The difference in the outcome lies in the kind of thoughts that we choose to feed the mind with. Indeed, the quality of one’s life is determined by the quality of one’s thoughts.