I have desperately needed new bedroom furniture for years, literally YEARS. I still had my childhood chest of drawers that followed me from Brooklyn to New York City to Los Angeles to Westchester. It was falling apart (although furniture was much better quality back then – it was my mother’s before it was mine!) and I had a few other pieces that had followed me around to both coasts. My bedroom didn’t feel like a place of soft luxury; it felt like it was just holding place for my stuff. It didn’t feel relaxing to go to bed; it just felt messy and broken. Yet every time I thought about buying furniture, my mind would take off with all sorts of mind chatter thoughts: “Whenever I buy furniture and have it delivered, it arrives broken or the delivery people break it.” (#truth) “I hate the quality of most furniture today.” “I can’t find a store whose furniture I like.” “Furniture is so expensive; I don’t want to make a wrong choice.” This literally went on for years. I would look in stores and at websites but I could never make a decision.
Did you ever have to make a decision and just feel stuck? Were you frozen and unable to make a decision one way or the other? Perhaps your mind is saying, “Oh, I don’t know if I should do this because of these reasons.” “Or maybe I should do it because of these reasons.” And then maybe you start reaching out to people to help sway you one way or the other. So you text a few people, Facebook messenger a few others and maybe call a few friends just to be sure. Now you are more confused than ever and then you realize an entire dialog has been going on in your mind. This is mind chatter – meaningless, decision-blocking mind chatter.
There is a Buddhist term called the “Monkey Mind” which indicates that if left untamed, our mind’s natural state can tend toward being unsettled, restless, indecisive and uncontrollable. The majority of people let their “monkey mind” control them. I love the quote by Horace – “Rule your mind or it will rule you.” We have the power to actually rule our minds but most of us are completely unaware of this ability.
“Mind Chatter” – at first we don’t even realize its going on, but when we start to explore higher knowledge we begin to learn that our mind chatter is not coming from a place of our own true authenticity. It is coming from a place of FEAR. It is coming from the part of our mind that is trying to keep us safe and in survival mode. When we listen to our mind chatter we sabotage ourselves; we prevent ourselves from succeeding and we stay SMALL.
As we begin to explore the mind, we will face resistance from this part of the mind that wants to keep us safe and we begin to feel like we are drowning in a sea of confusion. So what do we do? First, we have courage. Second, we take responsibility and forge ahead, out of our comfort zone. We can learn to rule our minds and realize that our true authentic self is actually the one in charge, not the chattering fearful part of our mind that is constantly telling us to “go back” “stay safe” “don’t take a risk.”
How do we learn to rule our minds? Get used to hearing the chatter, become aware of it and familiar with its utter nonsense. Know that when it is telling you something that brings up fear, it’s probably just the mind keeping you safe, nothing more than that. Begin a meditation practice and clear the mind. At first this will be difficult, but the more you practice the more comfortable you will become with the absence of chatter. We can never turn off the chatter permanently because that is the nature of our mind. It is what is does, it’s like trying to get a dog to never bark again. But knowing which thoughts are from our authentic self vs. from our worried chattering self, allows us to make more informed and grounded decisions. We will get “stuck” much less often. When we make the decision to “rule our mind” anything is possible. ANYTHING.
So, after years of letting my nonsensical monkey mind prevent me from having my delightful, divine, bedroom, I recently saw someone post a photo on Facebook of their own gorgeous bedroom and I suddenly felt inspired! I shut down of all the mind chatter and the following weekend I picked a store I wanted to shop at, drove 45 minutes to get there and bought my dream bedroom set. Now I drift off to sleep every night in my beautiful, luxurious, sanctuary. Ahh…
So, are you going to rule your mind or let it rule you?