Making Peace with Thoughts and Feelings
ShoomKloom Editorial Staff
Can you see that the past is gone, the future never happens and you are always just HERE?
Lost in the perceptions of reality
In my teens, my insecurities blew totally out of proportion.
Thoughts like ‘I am stupid, I am ugly, nobody likes me, nobody understands me’ were constantly catapulted through my mind. I didn’t really have any understanding of identification, perception or even seeing what is real. I remember that so many things were overwhelming me.
For sure I believed every single thought I had about myself was true and consequently I experienced a lot of mental and emotional distress.
In my early twenties, I started my search for happiness. I wanted to feel better, happier and to know how to master my mind.
I traveled and lived abroad exploring spiritual communities, meditations and all kinds of workshops and bodywork.
I did affirmations, mantras, visualisations and practised several self help techniques.
Many of these experiences made me feel better. But any better feeling perished at some point. It wore off and always disappeared; leaving me again to the mercy of my mind.
Often I felt too restless to meditate, too shy to say what I wanted and too scared to make mistakes. There was always something missing.
I wanted real fulfillment – without knowing what that really looked like.
A romantic relationship was another hope for true happiness, wishing that the love of someone else would put my mind at ease.
That the feeling of love would make me fall in love with myself. But romantic love never fulfilled my expectations.
I was very intrigued by the wisdom from teachers like Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Thich Nhat Than, Osho and others:
- that I am not my thoughts, feelings or body
- that there is only the present moment
- that my mind is an illusion
- that suffering is caused by my desires
- that I am the master of my thoughts
- that love sets free and love is without conditions
- that there is no past or future
These concepts are inspiring but I had no clue how to integrate them into my life.
At some point I concluded that I didn’t like who I was.
So in order to fix my personality and to become a better person in the future, I started intensively with therapy.
The therapy was outstanding. But after a while, I realised that it was just another temporary fix for escaping myself, my despair and discomforts.
Expressing and releasing emotions elevated my moods; but the core of my suffering was never touched. I became excellent in talking about my childhood, guilt and shame while believing all my “poor me” stories.
Also I learned to exaggerate my emotions and believe in made-up feelings. But my patterns and misidentifications stayed untouched.
The Illusion Breakthrough
I became disillusioned with therapy and random spirituality. I felt I was running after a carrot which dangled in front of me – but I could never catch it.
Finally I was introduced to a process which is a combination of mindfulness, self inquiry and existential wisdom.
I was taken by the hand to look from all directions at my beliefs, feelings, mis-identifications and at my ideas about love and life itself.
Through series of inner reflective questions, I could pierce through my illusions, mis-identifications and shift my mindset and perceptions.
It was the first time I heard truth in such a way that it shattered what I believed about myself.
It was truth revealing itself and for the first time I could recognize it.
This process takes place online in live guided classes. The classes are like meditations in which I meet and realise every aspect of myself.
Being guided by an enlightened master through series of eye opening questions makes it possible for me to look with fresh eyes at everything I have believed in, everything I have identified as myself and everything I have conceptualised.
Step by step I can untangle the knots in my thinking, feeling and perceiving. A space opens up for silence where I can stop identifying with my thoughts while at the same time all thoughts are allowed to be there.
I came to realise my true nature as awareness. I came to see what is here, always present and what cannot be defined by thoughts. This process showed me the way to come home to my real self; which is still unfolding each day.
Through this process I learned to integrate the following mindfulness concepts:
Nele tells us about: The Story of Mastering Our Mental Bicycle
#1. Accept the thought or emotion in its fullness
Up until the Process:
My whole life I had been trying to get rid of negative thoughts and bad feelings. I actually never fully accepted a negative thought or feeling, everything was always labeled as wrong or had to be different.
There was a constant fight in my mind.
I learned to allow a thought or a feeling; one at a time. In allowing, there is space for what is next. And any thought and feeling can just be here.
I don’t need to do anything with it (especially not judge).
Thoughts and feelings no longer mean that I am wrong, better or not good enough. I realized what a thought really is. It has no substance.
If I don’t think it, where is it? Not all feelings are pleasant. I have learned to accept that. Whatever is, comes and goes.
#2. Non identify with the thought or emotion
Up until the Process:
I was addicted to suffering, sadness and my stories.
I had become accustomed to believe what I think and feel to be true and to be me; to believe my self image; to believe that I was not good enough.
I could recognise for the first time that I do have a choice in what I feel and think.
Owning my choice to suffer wasn’t easy (it doesn’t look good). Realising how I identify with certain thoughts (just because I want to look good and be the ‘best’) was confronting.
Learning to not identify with what I feel or think has been liberating. I know who I am which has nothing to do with my thoughts, feelings or body.
A thought is not me; and it is not ‘truth’.
#3. Be non judgmental
Up until the Process:
Judging myself – and others – was a persistent habit.
I created stress criticising myself whenever I made a mistake, whenever I had an upsetting feeling or whenever I had a negative thought. I was so caught up in my thinking world.
By putting in practise that I have a choice in what I feel and think, I no longer give that self harming attention to judgemental thoughts.
I realised how my thoughts are not true, many are part of the collective belief pool and I don’t need to follow up on a thought with an emotion.
In realising that I was more kind to a friend who messed something up than towards myself; I was ready to relate differently to my judgements.
I know how to be my own best friend for real.
Now there is space for compassion, understanding and kindness towards myself and others.
#4. Pay attention in the present moment
Up until the Process:
I was predominantly thinking about the past or future. Often wishing to keep something, to get something back or regret what was gone.
I never fully enjoyed reality and felt bad because I couldn’t keep experiences (like moments of love) and therefore thought that there was something wrong with me.
I realised that only the direct experience of a moment counts – whatever this moment holds.
I saw that the very nature of an experience is that it comes and goes.
This had never really occurred to me as I was too busy trying to hold on to past bliss or recreate an enjoyable experience in the future.
I learned how to welcome each experience and how to let it go in peace and on its own accord
I finally got it that yesterday never happened and tomorrow will never come.
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Integrating Mindfulness Through Meditation
My mind is no longer non stop chattering.
This process has created space for enjoying the moment and for appreciating silence. It taught me a way to embrace all experiences in life, also the challenging ones.
My daily practice is either a walking or sitting meditation:
- Walking (slowly) slows down my mind.
- It makes it easy to give my attention to my senses and listen to what they tell me about the present moment.
- Then I can see how easy it is to let thoughts float by.
- Consequently the mind becomes less active and I can enjoy moments of calm and grounding.
- Sitting while watching nature (a tree, the clouds or the sea) is very meditative for me.
- I invite all thoughts and feelings and see them as part of my nature.
- And whilst breathing a bit deeper and slower, my focus shifts away from the daily chores and any momentary struggle fades.
- I see things in the right perspective and relax.
I am finally able to appreciate what is in front of me and to stop polluting the preciousness of the moment. I no longer feel like the prisoner of my mind.
My life is not the fairy tale in which I am always happy.
However I have found an inner contentment and appreciation for each moment.