Train your mind with mindfulness

The link between your mind, puppies and mindfulness

Meet Charlie the Westie

You may find it surprising but your mind is very much like a puppy.  For comparison, let’s start with my feisty, little West highland Terrier, Charlie.  Charlie was built to be active.  When he was a puppy he could barely walk straight when out for a walk.  He would pull and strain on the lead, zig zag around, sniff at things, mark anything in sight and shift his attention rapidly from one thing to the next.  Without training, he would get fixated on things that sometimes made no sense, circling back and getting himself in a tangled mess.  He would constantly check out other dogs and, through some baffling system, deem them safe or unsafe, therefore happily straining to play with them or locking in and growling like he was possessed.  He really needed some increased mindfulness!

Your mind versus Charlie

If you think about it, Charlie’s behaviour could bear a striking resemblance to your mind.  Your mind is always active, runs away with itself, flits around when you want it to focus on things, and locks in when all you really want is for it to relax and let go.  Perhaps there is someone, or something, you want (or don’t want) in your life and your mind fixates, pulling you along for the ride or turning you into an emotional pretzel.  Sounds like Charlie doesn’t it?  If you can relate, it stands to reason your mind is very much like a poorly trained West Highland Terrier out for a walk.  So why is that?

Your mind has two focuses

Our minds haven’t changed much from the minds of our distant cave-dwelling ancestors.  Back when we were focused on survival there were only two imperatives – to make sure we fit in with the tribe and to keep an eye out for animals that can eat us!  The human mind developed these crucial areas of focus to keep humanity alive.  Your modern mind continues to be a highly active scanner for belonging and danger.  Those two imperatives haven’t changed.  You consistently and automatically evaluate to ensure you belong and scan for threats to your survival. Your mind has evolved to be constantly on the go and the modern world has far greater complexity (and less sabre tooth tigers) so your mind has to work even harder to figure out what is a threat.  Without training – it’s just what your mind will do.  Scientists have found that the average modern mind has a negativity bias which results in four times more negative thinking than positive.  Given the nature of your mind, it’s incredible if you get any peace at all!

The unfortunate outcome

Unfortunately this is a recipe for increased suffering.  The more your mind checks for danger, compares to others, moves in one direction when you want it to go another, ties itself in knots and fixates – the more reactive you become with yourself, work colleagues and loved ones.  You feel tired, out of control, and worn out from your automatic thinking.  Without the right training your mind is likely to continue to be just like Charlie.  If you still need convincing, sit still for 20 minutes and see if you can get your mind to relax and let go.  Does it behave like a puppy, jumping around, fixating, evaluating and investigating, having difficulty switching off or staying on track?  It’s exhausting!

Mindfulness is the key

You can train your mind to experience greater focus, ease and contentment.  Meditation and mindfulness help you to develop positive states of mind, emotional regulation and self-compassion, transforming your mind to a place of peace.  Greater peace is only possible when you start with an understanding that there is a problem with your mind’s natural tendencies.  It’s not your fault or failing.  Your mind is simply doing what it naturally does.  Become mindful of your mind’s chatter and establish whether it is being helpful or unhelpful.  If it helping you to be your best self and live a happy life then continue doing what you are doing.  If it’s not helping you, it’s going to need some training.  A bit like training a puppy to walk steadily on his lead.  It will take a little time but it’s worth the effort!

Check out how meditation changed my life.  If you want to change your life, mindfulness and meditation classes are starting soon.  Contact us here if you would like to know more:

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