Today I went out for lunch with my friend Josh, who I haven’t seen since he left for school in August. As we were catching up with each other the conversation quickly shifted to one of my recent field of interest, cognitions. He was telling me about a class he just had taken on racism and was trying to explain to me that no matter what we do, we cannot control that initial reactive thought that comes into our mind.
The Conditioned Mind
What I mean by this initial reactive thought is that little “voice” in your head that is thought. The one that says “yes pick that” while your eyes scan a menu. This “voice” is your conditioned mind in action.
The conditioned mind is an involuntary thought processes that everyone can experience. The problem with the conditioned mind is that not everyone has the conviction of their own power to stop these impulsive thoughts.
Think of your conditioned mind as a recorded play-by-play in your head that is a part of your-much more expansive, peaceful, alert-conscious mind. It is your social conditioning-your personal beliefs on social concerns-that is in a constant battle with you with comments like “you’re not skinny enough,” or “your body is nowhere near as nice as so-and-so’s” as you’re look in the mirror..
Overcoming the Conditioned Mind
The reason these thoughts are so difficult to stop is because we identify with them. Not only do we identify with them, we truly believe that we are what we think. We are much more than thoughts, beliefs, actions, and emotions.
We must detach ourselves from our thoughts in order to overcome the conditioned mind.
How to detach from the Conditioned Mind
Overcoming the conditioned mind is not something that happens overnight, it won’t happen in a week, or a year, not even a decade. It is a life-long back and forth with thoughts and beliefs. It is a struggle for control over your peace of mind and sanity can only be won by being. By being I mean actually being present-not thinking but feeling yourself existing in oneness with everything-we are able to disconnect ourselves from the conditioned mind.
Fortunately, there are many ways we can practice being, one method is thought mindfulness meditation. I will discuss more on meditation in another post. For now I will give you quick and simple technique you can use right now or anytime to clear your mind and bring yourself into the present moment.
- Inhale through your nose slowly. Focus on following your breath from start to finish(once your lungs are full of air you’re finished) by feeling the physical body sensations of breathing (i.e. stomach or chest rising and falling, air flowing into your nostrils).
- Slightly pucker your lips as if you were sipping water from a straw and exhale fully. Focus on following the breath as you did in the previous step.
- Repeat this process 5 more times.
With practice you will be able to bring yourself to a place of being anytime and anywhere.
Focusing on your breath may seem pointless but what it does is focuses your mind on what is happening to it right now at this very moment. Thus bringing your full attention and awareness onto center stage and you are then more able to control your conditioned mind.
So, Josh, I hate to be the one to say I told you so, so I’m not going to say that. Instead I hope you use this information to your advantage and stop impulsive thoughts one cognition at a time.