My Mind and Interpretations
We live with the constant noise of “chattering monkeys” in our head – telling us how to live our lives and we are constantly interpreting that noise. Most of the time those interpretations are a work of fiction – but they still control our lives.
After completing this module you will have developed an awareness, of what is happening in your mind and of how we use our familiar patterns of behaviour to interpret what is happening around us.
A Good place to Start
When we were young our, mind was like a sponge – we sucked up everything we experienced and we had no way to assess the value of what we were experiencing. As we grew older, we developed skills for accepting and rejecting ideas and suggestions that came our way. So a good place to start is to look at a simple model of How the Mind Works.
Listen to the Chattering Monkey
This Contemplation is an opportunity for you to "listen" to the chattering monkey in your head and get a sense of what it is chattering about. Don't get hooked into the chattering - just experience how much stuff goes on in your head.
Ask yourself, “What is happening in my mind right now?” Listen to your thoughts as if you were an observer listening to a radio. Explore if you are hearing voices or seeing images. See if you can label these. eg “my voice, my culture’s voice, the voice of my critic, the voice of my judge” etc. Or it might be an image - ” this is a family scene” – try to identify it as symbolic, literal, mythological, sad, happy, fearful...etc.
After a few sessions of this, see if you can release the labels and move into the direct experience. With the voices it may be useful to imagine that you are listening to a foreign radio station that you don’t understand; observe the tone, volume, intonation, sarcasm and atmosphere. Or, in watching a scene, try to 'feel' the atmosphere of the images.
Consider that we live in a Consensus Reality - a reality agreed amongst the community and society in which we live.
This reality includes all of society's rules, its beliefs, its laws, its religions, its different cultures and ways to be, its governments, schools, social events, and holidays. As children we are domesticated the same way we domesticate a dog or cat – punishment and reward. The result is surrender to society’s beliefs with our agreement. Don Miguel Ruiz, The 4 Agreements
Ruiz refers to this reality as our Dream of the Planet. It defines for us what is good and bad, beautiful and ugly, right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate. As you make those judgements, consider why you make that judgement. Is it just a dream that you have been conditioned into believing? Is who you are a conditioned, civilised man/woman; following the rules that you didn't know had been imposed onto you?
This Contemplation is aimed at making you aware of your patterns and interpretations. Try to differentiate between what is happening and the interpretations, dreams or fantasies connected to these events. eg
You feel an uncomfortable sensation in your stomach (happening) and you imagine you have a stomach ulcer (interpretation, dream, fantasy).
Your heart is beating fast (happening) and you imagine that you have been “bad” because of something you did or didn't do (interpretation, dream, fantasy).
Become aware of the labels you give these interpretations eg realistic, painful, crazy, funny, sad, depressing, beautiful and then attempt to move into the direct experience of them. ie to experience them without the label eg. what does crazy feel like? Are you OK with that feeling?
Take this practice into your daily life. Keep your Journal handy and use it to write down the thoughts and ideas that come to you. Don't worry if what you write seems to be a jumble of ideas – over time a theme or pattern will emerge. Throughout the day, ask the question: “What is happening right now?”
The dreaming or fantasies are at least as important as the happenings. The objective of this practice is to become aware of what is happening in the moment and to become aware of the stories we make up around our “happenings”.
You might get a better insight into the intention of this Pathway if you catch yourself in moments of judgement.
What goes through your mind as you see a pretty young girl walking down the road in a revealing, figure hugging outfit (happening). What judgements do you make (interpretation, dream, fantasy)?
A scruffy man falls to the pavement and calls for help (happening). What is your interpretation? A well dressed man falls to pavement and calls for help (happening). What is your interpretation?
This brings us to another intention of the practice, which is to come to a place of acceptance. Acceptance of what is happening right now on all different levels. Accepting what is happening in your body, mind, heart, in your surroundings; even accepting the part of you that is in resistance and doesn't want to accept.
Acceptance doesn't mean that you like what is happening, or even agree with what is happening – it just means that you accept that it is happening. From that point of acceptance you can consider your stories about what is happening. From there you can decide on how you want to react.
A Dream Journal
Another part of this journey is to become aware of your experience of metaphor, of the way you live within a symbolic reality and how your subconscious communicates to you through symbols and metaphor.
To become more aware of this, include in your Journal a description of your dreams. If you don’t remember your dreams you can train yourself to do this. There are many techniques. One that is effective and simple is Prompting. Before you go to sleep at night tell yourself that you will remember your dreams and will write them down in the morning. You can then imagine yourself doing this. Next morning, write down whatever you remember.
Even if you don’t remember your dreams or weren't able to sleep, were uncomfortable, had recurring thoughts etc, write this down. Remembering your dreams is an important stage in being able to work and play with them, which in turn will open up avenues between your 'conscious' and 'subconscious' mind. To begin with, work only with night time dreams, but after a while you can include daydreams.
You may find it easier to draw, sketch, paint or model your dreams instead of writing them down - find some form that works for you and helps you to remember.
In order to benefit from these exercises, you will need to do them daily until they become part of your life style. If they seem like a chore though, you won't be able to sustain them. You need to decide for yourself how deeply you want to go into this. These exercises are one route towards preparing for your transition.
Discussion Assignment – My Mind and Interpretations
At this moment – what is happening in your Mind? What are the “chattering monkeys” on about? How could you be different? What if you were a “free” man, who sees the world about him as it really is? (Which pill would you take - red or blue? Are you plugged into the Matrix or are you with Neo?)
- What is the chatter in my head about?
- What interpretation am I putting on it?
- What story am I making up about it?
Next module : My Body and the World within
Our beliefs impact on our emotions and our emotions impact on our physical well-being. How is our physical well-being affected by our state of mind?Next Module