Taking a mental shower

Most of us start the day with a shower. The water floods the sleep from our eyes and the cobwebs from our head.

It washes away dead skin, sweat and yesterday’s pollution. The daily baptism prepares us for the first day of the rest of our lives.

We spend a lot of time cleaning, pampering and perfuming our outer selves, but little time on our inner selves, the nitty gritty of who we are.

We rehash, regurgitate and relive the things we don’t like about yesterday, about what we should, and should not, have done and said, but we seldom wash away that grit from our psyche.

It clings like bad breath after too many beers and a spicy, anchovies pizza.

A mental shower can wash away the psychic dirt. Twenty minutes to an hour in meditation or contemplation would work wonders as we dust and tidy our inner self.

“Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world,” said George Bernard Shaw.

A daily mental shower loosens the accumulated grit from all our yesterdays and washes away the mis-takes of the past, the dead thoughts clinging to our subconscious. It all flows down the psychic drain.

The real benefit comes when we take that sense of awareness out into our lives whether it’s in traffic, in a lineup or in the doctor’s office with a roomful of flu-stricken adults and crying children.

That’s when we need the patience and tolerance we learn in the mental shower.

“So meditation is not against action,” Osho wrote in Meditation. “It is not that you have to escape from life. It simply teaches you a new way of life: you become the centre of the cyclone.

“Your life goes on, it goes on more intensely — with more joy, with more clarity, more vision, more creativity — yet you are not aloof, just a watcher on the hills, simply seeing all that is happening around you.

“You are not the doer, you are the watcher. That’s the whole secret of meditation, that you become the watcher.”

Over time, we learn to watch 24 hours a day: what we think, what we see, how we move, how we pick up the cup, sip the tea, put the cup down, always aware.

We watch as we walk, talk, drive, and endeavour not to get lost in the maelstrom of thought between A and B.

Lost in thought is the human condition, observed meditation teacher and author Eckhart Tolle. “Wisdom comes with the ability to be still,” he wrote in Stillness Speaks. “Just look and just listen. No more is needed.”

Science suggests that colours, smells and texture don’t exist, but are interpretations of what we think. The world that a bee, a chameleon, a snake see is much different that the one we see.

Ours is different from our neighbour’s and greatly different from a San Bushman’s in the Kalahari Desert.

Although it seems counterintuitive, we don’t believe what we see, we see what we believe. We screen out billions of bits of information with our eyes, then block out more with our minds because it doesn’t fit or re-inforce our pre-conceived patterns of thought.

Most of the time, we aren’t looking for new information to aid in growth, but knowledge that will prop up what we already know, another piece of mental 2x4 for the edifice of self we have built to fit the world we have also created.

“Many do not think about the things they experience, nor do they know the things they learn, but they think they do,” Heraclitus, one of our wiser philosophers, said 2,500 years ago.

Psychologists call that premature cognitive commitment. We decide early — or it’s decided for us — what we believe and we stick to that position no matter what, even when there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Think Trump.

Our attention follows our thoughts and our intentions. We can, or cannot, because we think that way and not because there is a genetic limitation saying we can’t.

We choose to think positive or negative.

Studies have shown that when we watch life-affirming actions, the immunoglobulin-A levels in our saliva, our first line of defence against viral infections and colds, shoot up.

Reading, watching and listening to uplifting books, shows and music help keep us positive while doing the opposite feeds our negativity.

Some people refuse to read, listen or watch anything negative. He starts his day by journalling, counting his blessings, forgiving himself and others for any real or perceived slights.

They concentrate on the inner self rather than on the irrelevant, the trivial and the immaterial.

 “Man looks toward what is without, and sees not what is within,” it is written in The Upanishads, the gem of Hinduism. “Rare is he who, longing for immortality, shuts his eyes to what is without and beholds the Self.

“The immortal Self is the sun shining in the sky, he is the breeze blowing in space, he is the fire burning on the altar, he is the guest dwelling in the house; he is in all men, he is in the gods, he is in the ether, he is wherever there is truth; he is the fish that is born in water, he is the plant that grows in the soil, he is the river that gushes from the mountain.”

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Ross Freake, a former managing editor of The Daily Courier, has worked at 11 newspapers from St. John's to Kamloops. He is the author of three books and the editor and ghost writer of many others.

He can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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