Several years ago I completed the certification program for Life Coaching at New York University, SCPS. I learned about the Model of Human Functioning; a model that demonstrates the sequence of events that occur within human experience. The sequence is this: 1st Thoughts, 2nd Feelings, 3rd Actions, and 4th Results.
People often debate the accuracy of placing Thoughts before Feelings in this model and feel their order should be reversed. It’s an interesting debate because it can reveal how run by our feelings we tend to be, and furthermore, how non-mindful of our thoughts we tend to be. In some cases it also reveals our strong resistance to claiming responsibility for our feelings.
If you think about it, I mean really think about it, it is impossible for a feeling to exist without a preceding thought to produce it. That thought is most likely the reflexive response to a deeply imbedded habit of perception that occurs with such immediacy that the thought runs wild before you know it’s running. It then plays the same old tapes that produce habitual feelings, which in turn provoke actions (or inaction), which of course will determine the quality of your result.
Impermanence is neither good nor bad. Like gravity, it is simply a fact of life. And depending on how we feel – ahem – depending on how we think about the circumstance or condition that’s changing, we might be either grateful for it, or despondent.
I like to think of impermanence as a gift. When I embrace impermanence I recognize it as the fertile ground for creation and change; like soft, workable clay I can use to sculpt a beautiful piece of art. It invites me to ask, “What thought, what vision, what emotion and what action am I going to bring into each moment or relationship?” Whether I realize it or not, each moment is in fact creative as it sets up the conditions for the next moment, and the next, and so on. Mindfulness is the necessary ingredient, and the most effective way to cultivate mindfulness is through meditation. Mindfulness functions like the rudder of a boat; without it there’s inadequate balance and no reliable means to direct one’s course.
Karma literally means “action.” Whether you prefer the word karma or action, the reality is that without a doubt, its corresponding result will follow. Actions include those of mind, body and speech. With mindfulness we can carefully qualify and choose the intentions that motivate our actions. Positive actions, such as those of generosity, compassion, patience and tolerance will produce positive results. Negative actions such as those of greed, hatred, anger or intolerance will produce negative results.
There’s a beautiful sense of hope and freedom that comes when you recognize that the changes and results you would like to create in your life are within your control. Freedom, a peaceful mind, positive relationships, and even a good night’s sleep all begin with mindfulness. While mindfulness doesn’t cost a cent, its value is priceless.
Janet Kathleen Ettele is an author and musician who draws on her background as a student of Buddhist dharma to bring its teachings into contemporary practice through her writing and her music. http://janetettele.com