27 May What tools and techniques can I use to influence my thoughts and feelings?
To answer this question, I want to go back to the metaphor of the sky and the clouds I talked about in my video/blog – How to Tackle Habitual Thoughts? (13th May 2019).
You may remember, we talked about the sky as a perfect metaphor for our human mind. The sky is pure and vast. This speciousness exists as a constant. It never changes. It never ceases. It simply exists.
The clouds on the other hand, are like thoughts. Clouds come and go. That’s their nature. Their form changes all the time – some clouds look like candy floss and some are dark and full of rain. Clouds are forever changing just like thoughts.
Now, let’s look at feelings.
Clouds cast shadows. In the exact same way, thought-clouds cast feeling-shadows.
Clouds and their shadows co-exist. In fact, there is no cloud-shadow without the cloud. Like there is no feeling without a thought.
What actually happens is that every single moment of our lives, we are feeling our thoughts. Feelings are just passing thoughts.
We cannot really influence or choose which thoughts come to our heads. And in the same way, we cannot influence or choose the feelings we have.
All thoughts come and go. Feelings come and go too! All we need to know is that … the nature of thoughts and feelings is transient.
The more we understand the nature of thoughts and feelings, the more we realise that there is no need for tools and techniques to influence them. They will naturally change on its own. That’s how our psychology works.
Once we can see this insightfully in our own life, we become much less resisting and much more accepting of all thoughts-feelings that show up. In the same way, as the sky is accepting of all the clouds and its shadows.
The understanding expands our ability to simply be with all sorts of feelings – sadness, frustration, anger, disappointment, jealousy, resentment. With understanding, we discover that we are ok not to be ok. The understanding allows us to relax into any feeling that arises in us because we have come to realise their impermanent and illusionary nature.
There is one more thing I really want you to understand about feelings…
Our feelings are simply a signal of what is happening in our heads.
Feelings are the barometer of our thoughts. This is an important distinction because very often we go through life believing that our feelings tell us about what is happening in our life. That’s not how it works. This is a misunderstanding that creates struggle and suffering. Feelings indicate what we think is happening in our life. This is a huge difference!
To explain this even further, external situations in our life cannot directly impact on our feelings. This is because, we cannot have a direct experience of anything in the whole world. We always experience it through the lens of thought.
It certainly looks like things in life can cause us to feel anxious, stressed or make us feel low. It also looks like things in life can cause us to feel happy, content, satisfied and joyous. But it only looks like this because our thinking is completely invisible to us.
When we take our psychology under magnifying glass, we can then see what is really happening … we are always looking at the world through the lens of thought – feeling our thinking. We are always living in a shadow of our thinking clouds.
So, to the simple answer to the question above is there is no need to influence thoughts and feelings.
When we understand the nature of thoughts and feelings, we are then able to expand our ability to be present with whatever is showing up as our daily – and momentary – experience.
The need to resist feelings ceases. The need to remedy and influence falls away.
When we learn to see thoughts and feelings for what they truly are – momentary and impermanent experiences – we can then rest in a spacious awareness or presence that is able to embrace all thoughts and feelings.
When we meet our thoughts and feelings with understanding, our identification with those momentary forms starts to come apart and something more permanent and constant starts to arise and shine through… awareness or presence … the sky! And this naturally gives rise to more calm, peace, happiness and freedom …