Thursday, March 8, 2012

Believing Our Thoughts

I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t suffer, and that is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a single moment. That joy is in everyone, always.”

Byron Katie, Who Would You Be Without Your Story? (2008).

Our work at the Light Tree has invariably led us to ask the eternal question, “what do we do about suffering?’ We have been using mindfulness meditation to practice noticing our thoughts and being curious about how they operate to control our experience.

The central core of our awareness springs from knowing that we are spiritual beings having a human experience. When we get stuck we remember that being in human form is challenging and foreign to our true nature. If we continually return to the thought that all we are is love, joy emerges to affirm that the only thing that appears to injure us is our beliefs about a situation.

The good news is that we can change our thoughts at any time. We just need to be willing to notice them and forgive ourselves for believing that they have any real power to hurt us. We are challenged when unpleasant feelings arise that seem to disturb our peace. When we start to feel annoyed, resentful and angry toward others we can be sure we are projecting our own experience onto them.

Taking responsibility for every thought we think, every belief we hold sacred, is the first step to freedom. The crucial thing is to remember that we are healing and to be gentle with ourselves. We find it helpful to have friends who continually remind us that none of our beliefs are true, unless they reflect love. Joining in criticism or attack only deepens the wound and prolongs suffering because it makes a false idea seem real.

As we are healing, we notice that we drift between feeling deep peace, joy and love, and sensations of unworthiness, anger and fear. Its okay, this is to be expected. We stay with the feeling as much as we can and do not try to distract ourselves from feeling it fully. The more we are willing to sit and experience everything the discomfort is trying to convey, the more it dissolves into nothingness. It releases its hold because it’s only F.E.A.R., False Evidence Appearing Real.

Every experience is a new chance to unravel patterns of self-denigration and cultivate loving kindness toward ourselves. There are always opportunities to forgive ourselves for being sucked in by our thoughts yet again! True freedom is dissolving the urge to be bullied by fear and returning to what is real.

From there we find the joy that always abides within our hearts.