4. Working with ego – Starting to be Mindful
Mindfulness is the process of anticipating and choosing the right thoughts for you. A great many thoughts are learnt from others unwittingly and some of these can cause us to think or behave in ways which afterwards we decide are undesirable.
Some of these thoughts are particularly strong and recurring, these are thoughts that often trigger unwanted feelings such as fear, anxiety, sadness and a lack of confidence and positive feelings towards self.
The process of being mindful is another case of needing to gently work with ego, it is difficult to do at first and needs practice and understanding that every day you should seek to be more and more mindful, rapid success is not common and you should know that this is something that you will take small baby steps towards the goal of continuous mindfulness.
It is also important to realise that some of these thoughts may not be possible to counteract with mindfulness alone as they are triggered from deeper subconscious processes that I will discuss later. However, being mindful of these thoughts will help you understand them and ego will help you by allowing you to “ring-fence” them – you will learn to anticipate them and automatically avoid bringing them to mind by distraction or simply moving into no-think. However it is also important to realise that these thoughts are seeking expression as part of the minds self-healing processes and if you suppress them they will grow stronger or will find some other route for expression so keep in mind the determination to fully explore them in future when it is more appropriate and this will actually help them be more controllable as you move forward on your healing journey.
Once you are able to quieten the mind you will automatically be more aware of what thoughts ego is presenting to you. An important part of learning to be mindful is that you should try to keep your mind clear of cluttered thoughts that are too complex or chaotic to be able to deal with.
A large part of mindfulness in the beginning is simply listening to self – becoming more and more aware of your own thought processes. You will find that increasingly thoughts can be anticipated, that prior to the thought actually presenting itself in your mind there is a pre-thought stage which is more about feeling the type of thought that is going to come.
Mindfulness is all about working this these pre-thoughts, at that point your thoughts are not strong and can be changed or avoided but in the early stages of mindfulness it seems almost impossible to do that, the time between the pre-thought and the thought is so short.
However you will find that as you monitor these pre-thoughts and their subsequent thoughts you will start to see patterns in the anticipatory feelings that they inspire and it is these patterns that you will come to use in order to manipulate your own thought flow. You will be able to distinguish just by the initial feeling of the thought what type of thought it is going to be.
So this is the first stage of mindfulness, simply taking care as you study your own thoughts and analysing what you detect, learning about how you think and seeing that there is a structure to the way that your thoughts come to you.