There are four parts of the mind. Our sense of identity, two types of thought, and our storehouse of memories.
We all have a sense of identity. This is how we know who we are.
There are two main layers of thought. We have our regular thoughts about what is happening around us, what we need to do later and things concerning daily life. We bring information into our brain through our sense perceptions and our brain interprets the data.
We also have a storehouse of memories. We draw on what we have learned to date in life. When we are stressed or afraid, we can be flooded with fearful and anxious thoughts. When flooded, it is difficult to have access to our intuition and innate wisdom.
We are wired to notice danger first and our survival system activates instantly to keep us alive. When our alarm system is triggered, our nervous system puts us in a state of yellow or red alert. Our bodies prepare to respond and we may experience intrusive, catastrophic thinking. The activation of our nervous system combined with these fear-based thoughts can be distracting and very compelling.
Many people are almost completely involved with their thoughts. Like everything we do, there are reasons for this habit. We avoid being present in our bodies with our emotions. We try to figure things out in our minds to avoid our uncomfortable feelings.
A mindfulness practice is to focus on observing our thoughts. In this way we see how the words and images in our mind connect to the physical responses in our body. Mindfulness is a skill and we get better with practice. When we get lost in thought, we notice what has happened, and we step back and observe.
Imagine you are sitting on the bank of a stream. Watch your thoughts and feelings like they are leaves floating by. Some leaves will get caught in a whirlpool or on the branches of a downed tree. Others flow easily by without obstruction. Thoughts and feelings flow in a similar way.
A strong mind has certain characteristics that we can develop and enhance.
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