Twenty seconds of negative thinking can ruin your day; but only if you let it. You can change your mindset at anytime. Even if you’ve indulged in a continued inner chimp session, you can switch up out of at any time. And in my Happiness Technology seminar I give you some Instatools to do this.
As you indulge in the negative thought pattern the story builds and your mood can change; all from a single thought. Speed of recovery, speed of noticing and making a conscious choice away from erroneous or negative thinking is the crucial factor. A Buddhist teacher was asked to describe Buddhism in one word and he said 'awareness.' Becoming aware of a negative thought pattern is an immediate way to dispel it. I call it the Buddhist Bomb.
INSTATOOL: Buddhist Bomb
This is so effectively simple, and quick.
‘When a thought moves, simply recognise the thinker. The thought then dissolves. No matter what the thought is about’ Urgyen Rinpoche
So let’s look at this. It’s killer! Neutralize the negative thought, by recognising as the thinker, your inner chimp. It goes away! You’ve replaced it with another thought. It’s like sending in torpedoes. ‘Alert! Negative thought pattern! Neutralize the enemy!’ And it’s gone, just like that. Your chimp might return to the thought pattern and you just sent in the Buddhist Bomb again.
Eckhart Tolle also describes it as the thinker. When you have those negative thoughts or feelings of stress, realise that this is the 'thinker' in your mind, and that you can just observe these thoughts and say to yourself 'ok, I understand that you are thinking that, and I acknowledge it, thank you' but you don't have to act upon it or let it influence your mood.
Instead of watching the 'thinker', you can create a distraction by directing the focus of your attention into the Now. Become intensely conscious of the present moment - your surroundings, the noises, the smells. It sounds so simple, but this is a deeply satisfying thing to do and it distracts you from your mind activity (the thinker) and creates a gap in which you are highly alert and aware but not thinking. This is the essence of meditation. I practice this when walking - tuning into to one particular sound and listening intensely. Hang on, we are back at M again. Well, all aspects of the MENTAL system are connected, just as all humans are connected.
In your everyday life, you can practice this by taking any routine activity and giving it your fullest attention. This is the Zen way, to turn everything into a meditation. And remember what that means? To get out of your head. To empty your mind of thoughts.
A couple of years ago my Mum was not in a good place. She was losing her temper with my sisters for no reason at all, and I was receiving manic phone calls from her. She needed a break from caring for her unwell husband. It had got too much for her. I arranged to take her to my friend David’s place in Northern Spain, where he runs a retreat. Everyone there is positive and happy and I wanted to show her a place that was like that. How it could be like that. Why does it have to be other? You can stay there as long as you want, as long as you help out. Actually, you don’t even have to do that. But when you get there it’s just natural to help, it wouldn’t feel right otherwise. I wanted to help her, and the trip really did shake her out of her turmoil, rebooted her, but as it turned out that she really taught me something very important on that trip.
We were working on the land, building a fence from mud and sticks, being shown what to do by another member of the household. I was getting involved with the job in hand, but I was talking to my mum about a writing project I had on, and about London, and about other people in my life. ‘Stop!’ she said, quite sharply. ‘Be present. Focus on what you are doing. Forget about London, your other projects, and focus on this one.’ I bridled a bit. I wanted to talk to my mum about my writing. I was annoyed for a couple of minutes. But then I did as she had suggested. I emptied my mind of thoughts, and focused on gathering the sticks for the fence. For an hour or so I was at one in that field. Of course, my mind drifted back to London and people in my life. But I recognized it and brought my focus back. Acknowledged the thoughts and let them drift away like fluffy white clouds passing through a blue sky. Fluffy white clouds Dan? Yes. Fluffy white clouds. Deal with it.
I learnt something so fundamental that day and I was buzzing afterwards. After three hours of work, with a break in the middle, we headed back up to the house and made lunch. ‘Back to work on the fence now?’ I said, after we’d cleared up. ‘No, we’ve finished for today.’ Now that’s getting the balance right!
Our minds are so used to following well trodden pre-learned behavioural patterns. Think of them like a computer program that we run automatically. 'Oh here we are again, this is one of those situations where I get stressed/anxious/nervous, I'll run the 'I'm stressed' program.
BUT you don't have to run the program! You need to write a new program. A program called 'I acknowledge this is a tricky situation, but no one has died, so how bad can it really be, I'm not going to let it affect my mood in any way, and also I realise that if I get stressed then my brain will not function at its best, therefore making it harder for me to get out of the shit i find myself in.'
...yes, your new program needs a snappier name :)
Re-training the way your mind works is fundamental to your growth. With the new exercises I've created and honed for Happiness Technology V 2.0 you'll be able to learn how to do this quickly and implement them into your everyday life. Book your spot now!
INSTATOOL: The anti-neg
Here is a simple process that helps get you into a mindful state so can challenge unhelpful thinking. It’s a simple micro-meditation technique.
1. Notice when you are saying negative things to yourself. Become aware.
3. Change what you are thinking about. I learnt a Tony Robbins mantra which has helped enormously. He said that when he was 20 and living in a shit hole and didn't know what to do with his life, he would go running for an hour and say over and over again 'I'm unstoppable I'm unstoppable I'm unstoppable'. Guess what - he became unstoppable. I use this all the time now whenever a negative story starts creating itself in my mind. Or focus on a sound, or your breathing. Literally change the focus of your thoughts.
4. Allow yourself to notice your thoughts without engaging with them or re-entering a narrative.
5. Let yourself question those thoughts, in an objective, calm manner
6. Are these thoughts helpful to you?
Have an ace day. That's an order.
Ps. This weekend I travel to Almeria in Spain to take part in three ayahuasca ceremonies, with a shaman that travels from Ecuador and conducts a European tour over Summer. I'm taking along my lovely Latvian girlfriend, my biodad and a young Buddhist friend. So excited. See you on the flip. Will report back from the front line.