I often talk with people weary from upholding a bright and cheery exterior that clashes with inner emptiness and longing. Many are successful in career, people who have studied and worked hard. Bright and inquisitive, they appear positive, upbeat and engaged.
Yet inside they suffer, overwhelmed by this gap of extremes. The burden can seem an internal crucifix, a mental bind that turns people to alcohol, prescriptions, eating disorders and addiction.
Am I the only one who feels this way? I feel like a such a fake: Am I even loveable? How do I deal with the pain of these two extremes and become the authentic person I know I am? Such weighty questions are rarely shared.
To find answers, let’s consider three main purposes of the healthy mind.
THREE MAIN FUNCTIONS of THE MIND
- Create Identity. Our minds generate a sense of individuality, of ego. The “I am me”-ness that sets us each up to process information to our experiences, our cultural understanding and our individual perception. You may be deeply moved by theatre or biking, for instance, whereas your friend enjoys reading and collecting antiques. The mind determines and guides your “me-ness,” in belonging to a community, a group and more.
- Process What It Receives. A healthy mind processes information through the senses: taste, smell, touch, hearing and sight. It is a processing factory with sophisticated assembly lines. Sight, for instances, informs about one-third of the brain. Consider people who cannot see well: Other senses and parts of the brain become keener and more refined in their processing capacity to keep the assembly line working efficiently.
- Perceive & File Information. Once information is received, the mind then files the information. Upon arrival at a restaurant, for instance, the mind will process smells and tastes, and quickly start to perceive the information and feedback “Aha! That’s garlic.” “Goodness, this is a dense red wine.” “What a smooth and mellow goat cheese.”
These three functions occur so fast that we do not think about each process individually.
Yet when we get off autopilot, we have an opportunity to better understand how the functions of the mind create reality. We are better able to witness, watch and even guide the process of the mind–rather than be caught in the suffering of heavy identification with thought. As we learn to witness, the gravitational pull of burdens begin to dissipate and a fourth, exhilarating function of the mind reveals itself: pure intelligence, the linking of you with your greatest consciousness.
Here are examples of how to use the healthy mind as an asset, considering the three main functions:
1. Adversary The ego is vested in upholding a cheery outer façade, yet inside you feel hollow and depressed. The heavier the individuation, the more pain you feel, to the point of not allowing vulnerability or meaningful relationships.
Asset: Become the Witness By noticing when the ego is self-righteous, superior or clinging to rigid identity, we gain the ability to zoom out, gain a bigger picture and watch skilfully. We remember we are not alone in feeling this way. We become brave enough to share the experience with others. In giving yourself permission to be your authentic self, you also give others permission to be themselves!
We also remember that the ego provides motivation and that the ego’s highest purpose is to serve a deeper inner knowing, a pure wisdom.
2. Adversary You arrive to a meeting. Street noises, the enclosed room and the people gathered have you on edge. You’re agitated, shut down and cannot listen to what is being shared.
Asset: Learn to Respond. Low frequency noises (construction, traffic, bass tones), stuffy rooms and unnatural smells (like car and room deodorizers and some colognes and perfumes) agitate the processing capacity of the mind. We’re less efficient and more likely to react by being abrupt, withdrawn or quick to anger.
Instead, choose to respond. What is the background music at your office or on your phone line? Pleasant tones and higher frequency sounds calm and uplift. Chimes at home are often pleasant; they coordinate beautifully with the processing function of the mind. If an office area is stuffy, ventilate as best you can: Place pleasant smelling flowers and air purifying plants in the space. Incorporate the subtle smells of aromatherapy: Citrus essences, for example, brighten moods and energise the workplace.
Construction near home or office? If during certain hours, hold meetings off site as much as possible. If all day, consider moving the office to another part of the building, getting a sound muffling divider or using earbuds during work. Consider binaural beats.
3.) Adversary Your colleague makes a power grab. You’re threatened, angry and defensive. Then, you go on the offensive.
Asset: Tune into the Power of Perception Feel how anger and self righteousness set off a chain-reaction of stress that harm the body and fuel depleting thought. Then get to the root and ask, Where does my defensiveness come from? Why am I triggered?
We are not responsible for a co-worker’s words and actions. We are responsible for our own.
PERCEPTION CREATES REALITY
A healthy mind is a great asset: How we process and file information determines our ability to weave together the splintered parts of ourselves. The more heavily identified we are with thought, the more splintered we become, the more pain we feel.
Our perception, where we are placed in the consciousness field, determines our reality. Thank goodness this reality can shift daily, even moment-to-moment.
Through awareness and understanding, with curiosity and desire to explore our greater nature, we begin to steadily integrate within the authentic and aligned self: true in voice, generous of nature, empowered in capability.
This embrace of human consciousness and our potential is a journey that inevitably leads to the ability to fulfil the soul’s greatest desire, which is to intend life.
My brain is only a receiver, in the Universe there is a core from which we obtain knowledge, strength and inspiration. ― Nikola Tesla, genius inventor who “shed light over the face of Earth.”
Develop Your Power of Perception Today with Karuna’s Online Meditation Programme, The 10 Qualities of a Powerful Mind. This audio series is designed to help you develop respect for the mind, support healthy brain function and enhance mental fitness.