Where you focus your attention, your energy will flow in that direction or you may know this saying better as: ‘Energy follows thought’. These days, staying focused on any thought is no small achievement. We live in a time of emotional and mental instability and no sooner do we attempt to complete one project another one pulls us in different direction. The world is full of things clamouring for our attention; even setting the sound and haptics of our smart phones is a full-time endeavour. And as if that is not enough as we watch the news on TV there is a ticker tape of breaking news distracting our thoughts from what the anchorman is showing or telling us on the screen.
Each and every day we sit back dissatisfied and stressed as very little seems to be accomplished to our full satisfaction. It seems the key to getting things done is being able to concentrate for more than a few seconds on one object. We have to relearn how to concentrate our thoughts without the modern-day distractions that keep us busy doing nothing. The great technological advances which have made instant communication and global connection possible are a wonder and very useful and convenient for business and communication. But there is a flip side, these wonderful technological advances keep us so busy we fail to keep our attention on one thing for longer than a few minutes as we rush to answer another email or post on Facebook. It takes a very special person not to become overwhelmed by the demands and distractions that are presented to each and every one of us throughout the day.
Mindfulness & Meditation
One of the ways to train the mind is through the ancient practice of Mindfulness. This meditation practice has become increasingly popular in our culture and is used to help focus the mind on the present moment. It assists an individual to develop a one pointedness of attention that stops the distractions and white noise of the external world.
More and more people are turning to meditation to bring calm, focus and even productivity into their lives. It’s as if people are appreciating, they have a mind and if they can use that mind correctly, they will be a lot happier than they are now. Certainly, with the mind in control and not the chaotic emotions we do seems to be happier and more balanced people.
Mindfulness advocates that no daily is task is too menial to not have our undivided attention. With everything we do we use the mind to keep us present and in the moment. If we are daydreaming and allowing the mind to go off on its own journey of thoughts and fantasies we will get nowhere. Keeping the mind focused takes will power but it gets easier the more you do it. It is not hard to learn to control the mind, we just have to choose to take back control. With the mind back in control, our attention is not divided, and we can achieve all the things we choose to achieve each day. No matter how clever we are, we have to make choices and one of those choices may be to take back control of the mind. This is quite a relevant choice as each and every day we create thoughts by thinking. Now the trick is, we have to decide what we want to think about. Otherwise nothing will get done and our thoughts remain a distracted mess of chaotic emotional and mental reactions.
Right thinking is not just about accomplishments and doing a good job in the home and office. Right thinking is clear thinking, based on right values and a sense of good will. Right thinking is not clouded with criticism, doubt, worry or fear. Very simply, right thinking raises us up; wrong thinking brings us down. And we are not just pulling ourselves down with wrong thinking, usually we managed to drag everyone else into the pit with us. Who would want to do that to their friends, colleagues or family? As we focus on right thinking, we help others rise up as they are influenced by our right thinking and decide to think clearly and more compassionately.
As a human being it is a great responsibility to recognise and appreciate that energy follows thought. If the energy behind the thought is negative, then we are having a negative affect not just on our own psyche but also on the people within our environment.
Thoughts are things and with each thought, and indeed each word, we are building, creating something. Thoughts are creative because energy follows thought and on the mental plane something is created and will grow if fed. Once it is created, it leads and conducts energy according to its qualities of right or wrong thinking. Our whole system (mental, emotional and physical bodies) respond to these energies. The nature of the thoughts we have determines the kind of energy that builds our life.
This reminds me of that story about the wolf you feed.
An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
“One is evil — he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.
“The other is good — he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
“This same fight is going on inside you — and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”
The old chief simply replied,
“The one you feed.”
Pause for a moment and consider the thoughts you have about yourself. What wolf are you feeding? Are you raising ourselves up or pulling yourself down?
What Do We Want to Build?
The next consideration is; what do we want to build? What do we want to create? And how do we do that? Whether it’s something personal, political, social, or spiritual, we can create a great and wonderful vision and a plan, and we have the ability to hold onto it. But it may require effort and only we can choose whether we have the right stuff to ensure right thoughts are the ethos we live by.
And of course, as we look to the world there seems to be so many problems that are overwhelming in their magnitude and complexity. We may become disheartened and think what’s the point, what can my little-self do to change things, the world is a mess I may as well join it.
Changing Ourself Not the World
However, we are not talking about changing the world we are talking about changing ourselves. Like each brick that creates the building, if we work at right thoughts, we ensure our particular brick is strong and secure. Our part of the tower will be safe. We will continue to influence the surrounding bricks with our right thinking. Eventually more and more bricks become safe as their quality is good and eventually, we have a solid tower that will stand for centuries because it has been created with the right stuff and is of good quality.
Are we prepared to work towards those solutions? Are we prepared to attempt to do what can be done with our own way of thinking? Are we able to think clearly and critical? Can we think in a detached way and with discernment? Are we willing to support other people, with our thoughts and speech? Will we work with them? There is so much to be done on the personal level. But the good news is this work we do at a personal level is already changing the world for the better.
We need to reclaim our thoughts and eradicate the criticism, fear and judgements that cloud our vision and minds. We do that through focusing our intention on right thinking and awakening the mind to clear thoughts that are free of judgment. We do not need to meditate to do this, although meditation is a good training ground.
No-one else can do this for us, it requires our daily effort and endeavour to change ourselves. “This will not be accomplished by someone else, somewhere else, nor by any one leader or nation.”[i]
People believe the problems are too great and they ask, “What can we do?” The answer is simple, start thinking right thoughts and training the mind and the heart to think rightly. This is something we all can do, and we really must do if we want to live in a better world or more importantly leave a habitable world for our children and the generations that follow.
I will close with the wonderful words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”