Wednesday 12 July 2017

Thought is the Spice of Life

Today I received some devastating news. The nature of my situation is very personal and the specifics are not essential to the point I am making. We all experience life through the prism of the same principles even though the details differ. I personally learn a lot when I can recognise patterns. Possibly, even more, when the pattern is the only thing that I identify with.

Today's phone call was the culmination of a long period of waiting and today was the day to finally hear the outcome. Despite the life-changing impact, the result would have I have been fairly calm during the waiting period allowing life to continue as normal. There have been moments of sadness and hopelessness but these have passed and there have been times of positivity and anticipation. On the whole, I have not had that much thought about the outcome. The result was delayed but in my situation, the outcome was probably determined almost straight away. There was some action to be done but the most powerful was simply praying and trusting that G-d's plan for me matched up to my version of it.

Today, however, I started the day with a feeling of foreboding. I felt very uneasy but I knew that only the actual result would determine the direction my life would take from this point on. However, I still had a small part that felt hopeful. Whilst more conscious that the news was imminent I was still largely productive at work till the call finally came in at 15:00.

The lady was very pleasant and time slowed down as she got the point of revealing the news. As soon as she told me that it was the bad news I had been suspecting all day, I felt a huge grief and pain. After a call to my wife to share the news I had to return to work and continue till the end of the day. My best friend was not available immediately and called back later. Taking his call made it all flood back. Now hours later, writing this part brings me back to tears again.

So what is it about my experience that I think you the reader will benefit from. It's that I can see clearly that my feelings came from the things that were in my thoughts. Last week I was sharing the understanding of our innately healthy nature and the effect that has on our experience of life with a group of school children. A number in the group said that if situation X happens you have to feel Y. They argued that it was the external factor that causes the internal reaction. A strict cause and effect relationship that we are victims of. This is a commonly held misconception. One that certain empirical evidence seems to support.

That logic about the outside determining the inside would mean that 1) all people in my position would feel the same and 2) I would feel consistently during the waiting period. Whilst the exact same system governs the way our experience is formed, we all have unique variables that are used to write our different life stories. A natural ebb and flow of mood and feeling occurs for each of us and is normal. I'd even say that is what gives life its spice of enjoyment.

So if it is not the outside factors that control us, what is it? Whenever I thought about the possibility of failure, I had sad feelings. If instead it was a hopeful thought, I felt reassured of success. It was these transitory thoughts that made my experience different from my wife's. And it was these changing thoughts that moved me between states. The first important step is understanding that it is our own thoughts and these alone that create our feelings. External factors may seem to be the cause of our thinking at times but careful analysis reveals that despite my pain intensifying as I heard the news, it was my thoughts about the implications and the finality they represented to me that actually caused the feeling of sorrow. To illustrate this in another way, the same feeling came back to me when I spoke to my best friend. The news was not present in the same way at that time but the feeling was as strong. I am convinced that it was my thoughts returning to the result that caused the emotion.

To be clear, an understanding of our innate health does not stop feelings and I'm not advocating changing one's thoughts. I am merely pointing out how the system that we all experience life through works. On the contrary, the second point I wish to make is that thoughts naturally come and go. We are connected to a wellspring of new thought. All that is required to have a new thought is to release one's grip of the old one. As you do this the conveyor belt of thoughts brings a new one.

Whilst speaking to my wife the conversation moved to plan B. This could be seen as a coping mechanism but I can tell you that the feeling I had whilst we discussed an alternative future was not a fake one built on top of suppressed feelings. In that moment I had moved on to focus on something else. I was entertaining thoughts of hope and I was feeling them. Neither of us made the switch in topic. It came organically. Left to its own devices the source of all thoughts is a pure energy. There is no need to try to change a thought. To create a new one or analysis the current one.

That said, today was generally a sad day. I stayed with and held on to the thoughts of loss for the rest of the day. I wasn't ready to move on and I found more of those thoughts came to me. However, this was not a problem for me. I knew that the low state would pass on its own. No intervention was required and it meant nothing about my future mood.

In conclusion, I hope you can see that it was only my thoughts about the news that created my feelings and that I was able to rely on the assurance that new thoughts constantly arrive without any action required from me.

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