Practices in training the mind.
CREDIT: Wix Images
Mindfulness is something that I have been working very hard on for years now, and I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned with you. I hope you walk away from this article inspired to work on yourself and give yourself the attention you deserve.
For almost five years, I have regularly practiced mindfulness techniques such as meditation, journaling, yoga and reading self-help books. Of course, as with anything, there have been ups and downs in my journey and there are bound to be more. However, I feel as though the fruition of my hard work is finally coming to life.
Recently, I have been able to tap into the observer of my mind. The observer is what I call the ability to detach from your emotions to a certain extent and watch as an “observer” as emotions wash over and through you. This practice is challenging, and even when I am tapped into my observer point of view, I often get pulled back into the position of the feeler. This practice takes constant work and is probably something I’ll never truly master. However, just being able to tap into the observer is extremely helpful.
When you tap into the observer's position, you can see and think things through more rationally. I don’t want to discount emotions, as they make us human and are beautiful. But when it comes to negative emotions, which we all often struggle with, it is helpful to detach from the ego and its related emotions.
In the spirituality book “It’s All The Same To Me,” author Moshe Gersht builds off Richard Carlson’s ball metaphor. The metaphor provides a perfect example of tapping into the observer and choosing to watch the emotions that face you but not become entrapped by them.
If someone comes into a room and throws a ball at you, it is your human instinct to catch it. Gersht said, “You catch the ball to protect yourself. We do the same thing with insults, blame, and criticism. We stand up to defend ourselves.”
If someone comes into a room and throws their negative energy and words at you, you do not need to catch their metaphorical ball. Instead, let the ball fall to the ground.
Now you may be thinking, “Okay, I’m starting to understand, but how do I tap into my observer?”
It takes a certain level of self-awareness to shift your response from catching balls to letting balls fall at your feet. The only way to become self-aware is by confronting your inner demons. Spend some time alone with yourself and get to know the person that you are. Who are you when no one is left in the room?
Journaling, yoga, painting and meditation are all things that have helped me discover myself. Everyone is different: there is no magic solution, as you must experiment and see what works for you. Reading self-help books, taking prompts from the books and journaling about them is probably where I have done most of my “getting to know myself.” Often in self-help books, there are tons of prompts that you can take advantage of. Read a self-help book and highlight the prompts you want to ponder more.
Even if reading books is not your thing, you can search for “journaling prompts for self-growth and discovery.” From there, you will find many open-ended prompts waiting for you.
Self-discovery is a journey, and I recommend, above all else, being patient and kind to yourself. Any work you do on yourself results in a better you. Remember to tell yourself that you are proud of your accomplishments.
Some self-help and spirituality books I recommend:
“Man’s Search For Meaning” by Victor Frankl. This is an excellent book about finding meaning in situations where life feels meaningless. Throughout the story, you will follow a psychiatrist through his trials in a concentration camp during the Holocaust.
“The Universe Has Your Back” by Gabrielle Bernstein. If you are looking for a book to introduce you to spirituality and divineness, this book is for you. The book is an excellent introduction to understanding how the universe always works for you, not against you.
“It's All The Same To Me: A Torah Guide To Inner Peace and Love of Life” by Moshe Gersht. This book was gifted to me by my older brother Matthew, who personally studied with Rabbi Gersht in Israel. The book is a blend of spiritual and Torah teachings written in a way that is easy to digest.
“The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I have not personally read this book, but it came highly recommended to me by a yoga teacher I practiced with in Florence, Italy.
Ilyssa is an online writer for Rowdy Magazine.