Welcome to The Daily Meditation with me meditation teacher Paul Harrison.
Today I’m going to discuss a very important topic and that is the different types of relationships that you can have with your mind
There are 4 different types of relationships that you can have with your mind.
- Mind as enemy
- Neutral mind
- Mind as friend
- Mind as creator
As well as discussing these 4 types of relationships that you can have with your mind I’m going to explain how you can move between those relationship.
4 Different Relationships You Can Have With Your Mind
So let’s take a look at the 1st relationship.
The 1st relationship is mind as enemy.
So when your mind is your enemy it basically means that your thoughts and your feelings are generally negative and painful.
When your mind is your enemy it can cause all sorts of mental health problems ranging from stress to anxiety to depressio.
You will probably already know if your mind is your enemy because you will feel like you can’t really control your mind. You’ll feel as though you keep having painful thoughts, painful imaginings you and you can’t control them, you can’t change them and you basically feel like you lack self control.
So if you are at this stage of relationship with your mind what you will want to do is move from mind as enemy to neutral mind.
Neutral mind is basically when you have thoughts and feelings some positive some negative, your mind doesn’t really affect you too much and you are able to go about your days.
So how do you get from mind as enemy to neutral mind?
Well thankfully our good friend Buddha provided the answer to that many thousands of years ago.
The best way to move from mind as enemy to neutral mind is simply by becoming less reactive to your thoughts and feelings.
Science as well as the Dharma and other philosophies show that the best way to do that is by practicing Vipassana meditation.
Vipassana meditation is one of the core forms of meditation in Buddhism. You’ve probably heard of it. Basically what it involves is meditating on your breath and then when thoughts or feelings come to mind you’re simply going to label them for what they are
So for instance let’s say that you’re meditating and you see a painful image in your mind you’re simply going to label this mental imag. Or maybe you hear a voice in your head in which case you say “sound in mind” or something to that effect.
So what you’re doing is you’re observing what is happening in your mind and then you’re simply describing it for what it truly is so instead of seeing a thought as something that is real you’re saying “no this is just a thought and nothing more”
When you do that you’re going to become less reactive to your mind so even though you may still experience negative thoughts and feelings you’re not going to react to them. They’re not going to influence you as much as they would and that’s going to give you much more mental balance.
At the same time you can also do some basic mindfulness cognitive behavior therapy exercises or CBT. So when you do CBT the basic idea is to listen to your thoughts and then change them to something that is more realistic. For instance let’s say you have a thought I’m a failure. You would then challenge that. So you’d say “OK well in what ways am I a failure and in what ways am I a success?”. And then you realistically say ‘OK on the level of failure to success where am I?” And that will give you a much more balanced perspective Instead of thinking “Well I’m a total failure” you’d say well “OK I have some areas of my life that I’m not happy with but I’ve also been successful in this and that”.
So to get from mind as enemy to neutral mind you want to practice Vipassana and then also do some basic CBT exercises.
So now we will be at neutral mind.
So neutral mind is where you experience a combination of positive and negative thoughts. Sometimes they bother you. Overall you are able to get about your day to day life without too much mental health problems without stress or anxiety. You’re just able to go about your day. This is where most people generally are. They’re not massively positive or massively negative they’re just somewhere in the middle. So that’s not a bad place to be because it means that you can’t go about your day today life without being too disturbed by your mind.
However if you are in neutral mind you might like to move to the next step which is mind as friend now now when you are mind is as friends. You’ll feel like you get along with yourself you have a good understanding of yourself you know like you have a good understanding of a close friend. You accept your weaknesses and your strengths. Overall your thoughts are generally positive. Sure you might occasionally have a negative thought but you’re able to correct both thoughts and feelings and you’re able to get on with your life while enjoying happiness.
So if you are in at neutral mind how do you go to mind as friend?
The key to getting from mind for neutral mind to mind as friend is basically to practice all sorts of positivity techniques.
Probably the number one exercise that I recommend for this would be gratitude. Simply spend 5 minutes making a list of things that make you grateful. That’s gonna massively boost your positivity.
You could also do things like compassionate exercises for instance there are traditional meditations such as loving kindness meditation or Metta as well as karuna and Tonglen.
Karuna and Tonglen are traditional meditations in which we recognize the suffering in ourselves and in others. And then we imagine ourselves visualize ourselves acting positively to stop that suffering. So simple exercises like this like compassion and gratitude loving kindness these things will overall improve your positivity of your mind so your mind will be a much more nicer mind to live in, you’ll be much more positive and you’ll feel like your mind is your friend because overall your thoughts are positive.
So far we’ve gone from mind us enemy to neutral mind to mind as friend. The 4th and the highest, the best relationship that you can have with your mind is when your mind is creator, when you see the power in your mind to create your reality.
Now this is based on scientific fact. Neuroscience indeed shows that the perception of reality is based on a combination of our memories our thoughts and our beliefs as well as sensory input. Put all that together it basically means the reality that you live in is created by your mind through a combination of sensory experience in the moment plus memories plus beliefs plus your thoughts and you have control over all of that and because you have control you can ultimately change the way that your might perceives reality.
There are tons of different spiritual texts on this and it is discussed in a load of different spiritualities and religions to such an extent that it would be ridiculous to say that any one metho is better than
The best thing to do is really just to experiment with things to observe your mind and say “OK I seem to be remembering this and that. How about I chang my memory so I remember other parts of my life.” Or “I seem to be thinking about this and that. How about if I change those thoughts”
The best way to begin to gain some control over how you mind conceives of reality is really just the experiment with different meditation techniques and other psychological exercises and just saying “well OK so I changed this belief or I changed this thought or I remember different things” and then to observe how that alters the way in which I’m perceiving my life.
When you experiment in that way you kind of gain insights into how your different beliefs thoughts memories and sensory experiences, how they all come together to shape what we call reality and from there you can find what works for you. Try different meditation, try different psychological exercises all with the understanding that the way your mind processes your life is how you conceive your world. And when you do that you will finally get to the highest relationship with your mind which is mind as creator.