The Simple Mind

Yesterday we spoke of the collective mind and reflected on its ability to do good.  Today I want to focus on the simple, singular mind.  After over a year of blogging one of the most common questions I get is ‘how do you stay so positive?’  It is a good question but it has a very immediate answer.  ‘I stay positive because I have a simple mind.’  Many find this confusing and thus begins an e-mail conversation that is always mutually rewarding.  I thought it might be useful to explain what I mean and, as always, I would welcome any questions or comments.

Eigg 265My simple mind has not always been simple.  Up until a few years back my mind was far from simple and its daily tasks were quite overwhelming.  I was a mother of four children who home educated while juggling my own flourishing retail and wholesale business.  These occupations lodged themselves firmly in the front of my mind but the back of my mind was in an even worse state.  If I ever ventured back there I found confusion, anger, and mistrust.  I had to wade through all of that before I could find little lights of forgiveness, empathy and compassion.  It was definitely time to start on a mind cleansing process.  I had decided to follow the path of Buddhism some time earlier but I had not given myself time to study properly.  I took a distance learning course on Buddhism through the Samye Ling monastery and this was my new beginning.  It is fair to say that Buddhism can be a complex philosophy but at its heart it is very simple.  Extracting the simple from the complex became my approach to the course but I didn’t stop there.  I had also meditated on and off for years but I took this opportunity to focus on it and meditated every day for a year.  I am not sure what cleansed the best; the Buddhist teachings or the meditations.  I am, however, not sure that matters because, quite quickly, my mind became simple. 

eigg day 3 010Meditation is not about empty minds and white spaces.  It is about calming, relaxing and letting go.  One by one my meditations worked their magic as I let go of all the negative emotions that had festered in the back of my mind for years.  My Buddhist teachings traced the history and context of the faith that I prefer to understand as a philosophy.  People talk of healing but I prefer to talk of cleansing.  Meditation took me further still and into my physical realm.  I have struggled with a chronic pain condition for over 10 years and I was weary.  Meditation built on my Neuro-linguistic programming that I had studied previously and between the two of them they armed themselves against the pain.  They have not cured it but they have made my life far more doable.

Step by step and meditation by meditation my mind became simpler.  With the strong negative emotions departed I felt much happier and learnt to focus on the simple things in life.  Somewhere along the line I stopped chasing.  I had been a chaser my entire life.  I chased down my education and I chased down my career and suddenly none of that mattered anymore.  Buddhism teaches you to live in the moment and it took me almost two years to learn how to do that.  I had spent a life time living in the future….

herbs 008Now a simple task of planting bulbs in the ground offered up enormous feelings of calm and togetherness.  As a grower I fell back in love with the land and allowed it to speak to me and my yields improved dramatically.  My simple mind doesn’t linger anywhere for too long and it often feels as if it is floating.  I float from one thought to another and this style of thinking has greatly influenced my writing.  People tell me that I write from the heart but I always think I write from the soul.  My soul is much happier with my simple mind and I have finally stopped the destructive practice of ‘over thinking’.  This used to drive me mad but now I only linger for the shortest time with a thought before moving on.  If it is an important thought I trust it will return at some stage.

Meditation is thus mind training and it is an excellent way to cleanse your mind and reach new levels of peace and happiness.  If you visit my Mindful Meditation pages you will find out more.  Last year I ran a new course called Meditation through Writing.  It offered the students the chance to develop a meditative practice that stood a chance of becoming habitual but it also used writing as a way of making sense of the process.  The outcomes from the students were staggering and took me some time to digest.  I am running this course again from March to August (inclusive).  It is an online course which enables you to work at your own pace and in your own space.  The early exercises are focused on cleansing and the later ones on simplifying and learning to live in the moment.   A journal accompanies your studies and becomes your friend.  I don’t offer this course to lots of students at the same time, preferring to keep the group small so that I can support as needed.  If you would like to find out if this is a course for you send me a message on the form below and we can chat.

kildonan june 2013 010My simple mind has learnt to make sense of the world around me.  I now seek out other simple minds to connect with recognising their positivity in a heart beat.  I try and distance myself from negative minds and minds that are struggling.  I have long since learnt that only we can cleanse and heal our minds and, ultimately, we all follow a similar path.  My moments through each and every day are noticed now and I feel able to meet any challenge with a growing sense of self assurance.  If this is a simple mind I am very grateful for it.  It has become my best friend.

Speak very soon.  xx

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