Many spiritual seekers today are looking to put the “law of attraction” into effect in their lives – to improve their finances, to attract romantic partners, or to create a more abundant and satisfying life in general. According to this principle, “like attracts like,” so one must cultivate a positive mind in order to manifest a positive life.
Korean Sundo practice contains a similar concept, but it’s a little more focused on how energy works. In English, it could be translated: “Where the mind goes, energy follows.” Ultimately, the two principles are working with the same universal laws, but I prefer the Sundo statement because it puts the roles of the mind and energy into clearer focus. Instead of being like a magnet that simply “attracts” positive outcomes, the mind here is an active participant that directs the flow of energy.
Ultimately, both are true, as there is both a masculine directing of energy and a feminine reception of energy that is part of the process of manifestation. The direction of our mind’s energy, however, is the part we can take the most responsibility for through the choices we make.
This is one of many reasons I focus so much on the brain in my teachings. For human beings, the brain is the seat of the mind and through the brain we can focus and redirect the powerful energies of our minds. The trick is to rewire the brain so that positive thinking becomes normal and natural.
The Brain Habit of Negative Thinking
Have you ever noticed that your brain runs in circles sometimes, dwelling on the same issues endlessly? And usually, it is about something negative, like some emotional hurt you have experienced or some future event you are worried about. This is a normal function of the brain, actually, one that most people have experienced. Long ago, this feature had a positive survival purpose, helping us to focus on eliminating serious dangers and on solving immediate, life-threatening problems, such as lack of food or shelter.
Today, though, this feature usually doesn’t help us survive. If anything, it just adds stress to our lives and distracts our focus away from more proactive ways of dealing with problems. It also keeps our minds focused in a negative way when a positive attitude would be far more helpful in the situation. Our relationships suffer terribly, too, as our minds habitually take a negative, defensive stance toward others, especially when our opinions and actions are in opposition. Through this sort of habitual action, we are unwittingly sending energy to that which is most negative in our lives, and as a result we see the same patterns manifesting over and over again in our lives.
Uncovering Your True Self through Gratitude
Fortunately, you are not a negative being by nature. Some might disagree with that statement, preferring to define human nature as crude and animalistic. While it is true that human history has been marred by greed, violence, and selfishness, it is not correct to define this as humanity’s essential nature. If you look at any culture in the world, you will see that this is not what people ultimately prize. Rather, the vast majority of people are seeking unity, cooperation, and peace. Your True Self is the part of you that knows this is how you really want to be, even if the fears of your ego-self may lead you to behave otherwise at times.
Gratitude is the simplest way to begin accessing your highest nature, your True Self. First of all, it is easy; you don’t have to go anywhere or spend any money. Secondly, it can be instantly used to switch negative thinking to positive, thus creating a new brain habit as new brain connections are formed. Using gratitude, you can learn to focus on what connects people, rather than on what separates them.
A Simple Gratitude Exercise
An easy way to bring gratitude into your life is to incorporate it into your everyday activities. It could be anything you do routinely – driving the car, getting dressed in the morning, washing the dishes, etc. – but mealtime is an especially effective time to do so. Perhaps this is why so many cultures give thanks before they begin eating. In a way, this exercise is just a way of extending and deepening that practice.
When you sit down before a meal, spend a couple of minutes calming and centering yourself before you start to eat. Look at the meal, and first take in how beautiful and delicious it looks. Then, consciously send energy to each and every person that had any part in its creation and preparation. There are obvious ones, like the chef and the farmers who grew the meal, and of course the Earth herself. But when you keep going, you would see that there is an endless network of people that gave of themselves: truckers transporting the food, people making the silverware, the grocer who sells the food, the company who made the dishes, etc. When you start to consider it, it goes on and on and on. As you think of each one, imagine a real person receiving the bright, loving energy of your gratitude.
If you do this with sincerity, you have done three important things: first you have begun to realize the intricate web of connection that unites us all; second, you have sent great positive energy to something good in your life, which will undoubtedly bring more positivity into your life; third, you have spent time training your brain to do something positive with the thoughts it endlessly creates.
Making a Better Brain Habit
If you start to apply this exercise to other parts of your life, too, you’ll soon realize that there is much to be grateful for, no matter how difficult your immediate problems are. So, anytime you find your mind bogged down by negativity, try flipping the switch by finding something to be grateful for. With time, you might even see that those problems are worthy of gratitude, too, since they will undoubtedly make you stronger in the long run. Eventually, the synapses in your brain will build up new connections that always see the proverbial silver lining in everything you encounter, no matter how difficult, and your whole life will re-arrange to reflect the positive mind−and the beautiful True Self−that you bring to the world.