The mental and emotional state (or ‘mood’) that we are experiencing in any given moment is what influences the choices we will make in those moments. If we are stressed or angry, we will make choices that will be very different from those we would make if we were feeling calm, balanced and happy. Positive choices come from positive states, and negative choices come from negative states. The choices we make are also likely to reinforce the state we are choosing from.
Being in a ‘negative’ state is very much a loop, a cycle. If we are not in a good mood, we are less likely to make positive and beneficial choices, and those choices will lead us to create further disharmony within ourselves, and possibly with the people around us, thus amplifying our negative state, and thus continuing the cycle.
It’s a bit like comfort eating. We feel insecure, so we might eat an indulgent, sugar-laden food to deal with that feeling, yet it makes us feel worse because it is not truly a nourishing food. So then to deal with this even worse feeling we have – which is perhaps compounded by a sense of guilt and self-criticism due to our awareness and judgment of our actions – we seek more emotional comfort by eating more food. You can thus see how easily obesity can arise within an individual who just wants to feel secure, but is making choices from a negative state, a state of insecurity and suffering, and thus creates not only more insecurity but also a long-term health problem. We should be very careful about making decisions when we are in a negative state of mind.
So when we notice a negative cycle influencing our choices, our behaviour and our communication, we have to interrupt it before it becomes even more destructive. After all, illnesses like depression, violence and self-hatred are all consequences of the spiralling downward path that have lead from less-than-beneficial choices and the psychological and emotional states they have established in our day-to-day life.
INTERRUPTING THE CYCLE
How do we interrupt this cycle? There are several ways. The most immediately affective one is to change the way you feel right now, by changing your breathing and changing your physical posture. When we straighten our body, stand tall, open our chest, relax our body and face, and breathe fully and deeply, we immediately feel different. We feel more alert, more calm, more grounded, strong and balanced. We consequently feel more empowered and courageous to make the decisions that we know are in the best interests of ourselves and those around us.
There are also lifestyle changes we can make that will have a more stabilising long-term effect….
Dietary changes such as reducing consumption of sugar (in all forms), reducing consumption of stimulants like coffee and chocolate, reducing over-consumption of heavy, cooked foods and choosing more fresh, raw, light and vital foods that will lift our mood and make us feel more positive.
We will also benefit immensely from become more active on a daily basis, and spending more time outdoors, breathing fresh air and oxygenating our body. The powerful influence of fresh air and physical activity cannot be overstated. It clears our mind and balances our body like nothing else can, and it essential for good health and a sense of inner wellness and vitality.
A simple meditation or yoga practice is also beneficial, not only for the positive effect it has on our pattern of breathing, but also because it helps us to become more aware of our thinking mind, how it operates, how thoughts arise and fall and how we do not need to be influenced by them. Such spiritual practices (along with many others) are supportive of the aforementioned dietary changes and changes in physical activity levels, because all 3 help us to bring our attention out of the mind and more into our body, so we feel more calm, less anxious, more grounded and more connected to our centre, which is our heart.
When we are more connected to our heart, we feel more tolerant, more patient, more kind and caring (including towards ourselves), so it is very important to strengthen this connection. A strong heart is not so subject to fear and worry. It trusts more, and it enjoys life more deeply. The superficial pleasures that we get from so many of the things that are available to us never last long. But by cultivating greater awareness of our heart – and thus of who we truly are – our appreciation and enjoyment of life takes on a new depth and dimension. We feel more fulfilled. We become a more joyful person who is stronger, more genuine, and more loving towards all those whom we encounter in life. We become a gift to the world, just through being alive.
This is the potential for all of us, and it all begins by taking full responsibility for how we feel in any given moment, rather than blaming others, blaming life or blaming God. As we take responsibility for how we feel, we realise that we have the freedom and ability to change it immediately, simply by interrupting the negative cycles of thought, emotion and posture when we see them in action. Our physiology and our emotions are the result of the thoughts that pass through our mind, which only affect us because we give them our attention and we believe them.
As an example, let’s look at fear, which is the most crippling of all human emotions, but in fact the easiest to avoid. When fearful thoughts are present in our mind and we are either engaging with them or resisting them (which is itself an act of fear) the consequence is that fear becomes manifest in our body. It does this through contraction and tension – our whole body tightens up, as does our heart, and we can suddenly feel very weak, totally devoid of energy, sometimes even paralysed.
The immediate antidote to this physical reaction is to relax our body, and breathe. If we relax our body and help it to remain relaxed, fear literally cannot take hold of our body. It is impossible. For fear to take grip, our body has to tense up and tighten, and if we are fully engaged with relaxing it, this cannot occur. Of course, the anxious thoughts may continue to try and drag our attention back into our mind, back into believing them, but we cannot believe a fearful thought and remain relaxed at the same time.
Relaxation is literally the best way to totally disempower even the most intensely fearful thought, because by relaxing rather than resisting (which is tension) we are allowing that thought to be present, while disconnecting it from any unpleasant feelings in our body. As such, there is no longer any need to resist it, because it does not affect the way we feel. That fear is nothing but a meaningless thought that is no longer remotely threatening or relevant or to you, because it no longer has any power to influence you.
It was you who originally gave it its power (subconsciously) by allowing your body to respond to it with tension. But through consciously relaxing your body in the presence of that thought, any bringing attention away from the realm of thinking (the mind), your power and energy are reclaimed, and the thought becomes totally impotent and harmless. Thoughts only get their power and animation from our attention, in the same way that it is the light shining through a cinema filmreel that creates a moving, life-like image on the cinema screen. Remove the light (attention) and what you are left with is inanimate film, of no great interest to anyone.
And so it is with thought. It is we who choose which thoughts to animate and empower with our attention, and as we become more aware of our inherited beliefs, thought-patterns, opinions, judgements and fears, we can choose whether we want to continue giving life to them. If they do not truly serve us, then we can let them go, and give our attention to something more deeply nourishing and fulfilling, something which offers so much more depth than the thinking mind. Our heart.
Our heart needs no belief systems to serve us. It just needs our attention. With our attention, it can communicate with us in its subtle and profound way – a way which is far beyond the comprehension of the thinking mind. By attending to our heart, we find that we are moved in the direction that most inspires us, that most fills us with passion and enthusiasm. If we fully trust the guidance of our heart, we cannot go wrong, because it is following an invisible thread that extends through our life. It leads us in the direction where love can grow most exponentially, where healing can best occur, where joy can flourish and be shared. All we need to do is give it our attention, and rather than believing the communications that come from the fearful mind, we learn to fully trust our heart. It has the full power, wisdom and intelligence of the entire universe flowing through it, and it will you home.
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