By John J. Murphy
Every minute of every day, we are bombarded with thoughts. Think of thoughts like raindrops in a rainstorm. They just keep coming, filling our minds with constant chatter. Sometimes our thoughts are meaningful, but more often than not they are completely meaningless. This is especially true in the untrained mind that has not learned to disengage (perhaps through meditation or contemplation) from mind chatter.
Many of these thoughts are of the past, which does not matter, while others are of the future, which does not matter now. In either case, they distract from the present moment, the only time that really does matter. We find ourselves living in the past or future, but missing the now. This is like taking an excess of photos or video at a birthday party and actually missing the party, or like planning a future event that never comes. These are not bad ideas, just examples of how easy it is to miss the moment.
This is also why so many people struggle with meditation. Meditation is the practice of disengaging from thought long enough to experience the stillness, grace, and wisdom that exist between thought. Meditation is about listening to God. It is not about asking God for anything or praying to God with a list of petitions or an agenda of some kind. It is about looking into heaven from earth, witnessing the splendor and the glory of God that exists in the stillness. It is a form of release from all thought, allowing us to experience the vision of Christ and spiritual flow. It is about seeing through the veil that separates heaven and earth, a veil bestowed upon us by the ego when we were born into human form.
There are numerous meditative techniques, several of which I use daily. Tap into the many resources available, including books, television, DVDs, and CDs if you are interested. Just be sure to remember the spiritual reason for meditating, the objective of the objective, even if it is only for fifteen minutes a day. You will feel more awake and more aware throughout the entire day.
Consider this equation:
Thought x Emotion = Feeling
Looking specifically at the thought factor in the equation, note the following potential failure modes and the impact they can have on how you feel:
- Too many thoughts, leading to a feeling of being overwhelmed, no peace of mind
- Thoughts that are not true, leading to feelings of jealousy, despair, anger, etc.
- Thoughts that are irrelevant, leading to wasted time and inefficiency
Winston Churchill once said, "The price of greatness is responsibility over each of your thoughts." It is absolutely essential that we stand vigilant over our thoughts. We cannot stop thoughts from coming, and it is a mistake to try, but we can stand watch over the thoughts we choose to carry and those we elect to let go. This is the first blindfold we must remove, the unnecessary and misleading thoughts that occupy our minds. With this release comes a tremendous sense of freedom. Just stop and ask yourself from time to time, "How would I feel without this thought?"
The second factor in the equation is emotion. There are many different interpretations of this word, ranging from its Latin root, emovere, which means to disturb, to common "feelings" such as shame, guilt, sorrow, grief, apathy, anger, jealousy, pride, love, and joy. I will keep it simple, using only two emotions, love and fear. In reality, the Holy Spirit reminds us that there is only one true emotion. It is love, and there is no opposite to love. There is only the absence of love, decided by humankind and resulting in fear.
Therefore, I will use fear as the alternative emotion to love. This emotional factor in the equation is a critical variable in determining the impact of the feeling. For example, if I hold a thought such as "What if I lose my job?" and this thought is coupled with an emotion of fear, the resulting feeling will likely be anxiety, stress, and (ego) self-protectionism. The idea of "change" could even be somewhat paralyzing.However, this same thought coupled with true, spirited, unconditional love, springs forth a feeling of adventure and new beginnings. "What if I lose my job? I will move on to something else, something better. It will be as it is meant to be."
This example may sound a bit far-fetched, especially in a world riddled with unemployment. But the example is not far-fetched when one looks at it from beyond the fearful ego. Love in the context of the equation above is not a conditional love. It is not a love that rests upon a return love, or a quid pro quo exchange. It is pure love, without condition, without fear, everlasting and true. There is no opposite, so no matter what happens, the spirit continues on joyful and free.