Monday, June 29, 2015

How to Develop Mental Toughness Within

Old Man crow_5070

Life gets very superficial sometimes. We like to operate at the top layer and very seldom go deeper to develop mental toughness. We spend so much time doing things. Wanting to be busy. It´s like life just engages with us in that way. We´ve got to be very diligent about keeping up with what´s going on around us. The problem comes when you´re operating from a bad or weak inner core. From deep within you there might be a bit of resentment or anger or sadness or whatever, but if that is what is at the heart of you, without a doubt that is what is gonna come out in your behaviour, and that will be your experience. It´s like running around furiously when your head is all tangled up. And the harder you run, the more strain you puts on the knots in your mind. Until you breakdown mentally.

The way that I like to get to the core of things is to step out of life for a while. Just take a step back. Stop watching the news, stop running around trying to "do" things, posting what your eating for breakfast on facebook, running around all happy and smiles, busy, busy, busy. It´s totally fine if at the core of you you are strong and solid, thinking positive, but if there´s negativity, those happy smiles might be masking inner torment. And it´s very difficult to get time and space the way life is set up. If I get all bent out of shape, I have to find a place where I can just chill out and do nothing for a while until I get things in my mind straightened out. Until I get that mental toughness back. Where I can start building confidence again.

I just sit down and think. And this can get a little dangerous as it can lead to obsessive thinking and disengagement with reality if you do not remember to return to the present moment and start engaging with life again. But just start exploring the deeper side of you and start pushing things in a positive direction. The positive thinking ball needs to start rolling again. It´s all about that mental toughness. If you feel that your fuel in life is anger, then you gotto get to that anger somehow and examine it, and look at it from all angles, and question it. Then just nudge things in a positive direction. Build that confidence. Its actually quite difficult to give directions on this because everyone just has to figure it out for themselves when you´re that deep down within yourself. But just make things positive somehow from deep within.

I also like to come up with great plans when I´m in this thinking mode. I start imagining what I´d like to do in the future, what kind of person I´d like to be, what part of the world I want to live and travel next, what kind of job I´d love to be doing. All the best things that you can think of. I imagine that mental toughness returning. Reach for the stuff that really makes you feel good, where life would feel great. And make these concepts solid within your mind, so that becomes a part of who you are. Build that confidence. So when you come to the next part where you have to actually DO all these great things and take action, the foundation of this plan is strong within your mind. The thing is though that slowly the more you actively do things to create this reality, the plan within your mind starts to fade a little so every now and then you have to reestablish the plan. And if things totally fade out and you´re wondering around kinda aimless and purposeless because youve been "doing" for so long, you gotto go back into the lab. Take a step back from life. Get down to the core and get your mental toughness back.

Get Angry with Life and Take it By the Horns

Having A Closer Look

Ok, for some reason I can see that this definately happens to me. Say now Ive gone through a couple of years of nothingness. Nothing seems to happen. I float through life. I go with the flow of things a lot. A sort of meloncholy has set in. A dissatifaction with life. An "ahhh it kinda sucks but Im too lazy to do anything about it" vibe. But all the while I am drifting downward in feeling, it´s gradual so its hard to pick up on, but finally it gets so bad that I get a massive shock to my system. I drift into reaally dark territory. Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is when a fire gets lit under my ass. Something about experiencing such dark feelings seems to light a match which ignites the gasoline. I start thinkng to myself "Ive got to get going....Ive got to get going! Get up off your ass! Go! Get up!"

Well out of this, if I channel the energy constructively, comes good things. All the best things that I have ever done have come out of this state. It´s just a hunger. To create something good. Finally to get a bit of peace. To wake up! To shake my zombie-like body awake. Get going! And.....I seem to get going. Things start to happen. The world seems different. People´s reactions to me seem different. It feels like I´ve got a bit more of a shine in my eyes. A fierceness. Everything feels a lot more "real" and immediate. It´s a feeling of truly and genuinly being alive.

Well, this is the state that I´m always trying to get to. And if you ask anyone on earth, I think that they would admit that when it feels like they´ve got a fire under their ass, they feel more alive. To have the feeling of energy expanding within you is a great thing. Energy is the key component for work. The most productive countries in the world have one thing in common; an abundance of energy. You´ve just got to find the energy within yourself. Light the match to the gasoline within yourself somehow.

But what do you do when you start the downward descent from the high? When things get a little too good, you start to get complacent. Dark times seem to create diamonds out of the pressure situations. Good times seem to relax the body, relax the soul, relax the instincts. And you lose the fierceness and productiveness. It´s just a natural wave form, as it is with nearly everything in life. You go up, you go down, up and down. You have money, you don´t. You have love, you don´t. You have health, then you don´t. Well I write reminders on notes which I read every day to help keep me in that high state of aliveness. But it´s just natural that you go down and start to feel a little lifeless. I think that it just HAS to happen. But the key is to light that match. And don´t let yourself drift too far down. Keep scratching away in the dark until you create that spark.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Thinking vs Present Moment Awareness

pensieri - thoughts

To me, there are two basic modes by which the mind operates. One mode, is thinking mode. Thoughts. This is your ego. If you think thoughts, you have an ego. When most people refer to someone as "having such a big ego" they mean that person thinks of themselves highly, maybe superior to others. It´s often obsessive thinking. But the fact is that everyone has an ego. It´s just a way for the mind to identify with itself. Some egos think down on themselves. Some overinflate the idea of themselves. That´s why there´s that weird tension in basically any conversation. There´s almost always a slight competition going on. The thinking part of the mind is in competition with thoughts from other minds. Every mind seems to think that "No, my thoughts are the best. They are the most profound, intellectual, funny etc etc".

And then you´ve got the observant mind. A mind that is "in the zone". Full present moment awareness. Zero thoughts. When monks are meditating they are trying to free the mind of thinking. Free the mind of thoughts. Free the mind of ego. "Freeing the mind" now makes sense. You´re just giving it a rest. Basically it is just about engaging the senses. Recieving feeling through touch. Recieving sight, sound, smells etc for the mind to record to memory. Most people think that they just have bad memories. What I really think is that they just have bad concentration. They havent allowed the mind to record the neccesary information. When they were reading a book, they were really thinking about work. When they were listening to a story half their mind was engaged with thoughts of something else. Some people have this to a small degree. Some to a large degree. They just don´t seem to be "there" when you´re talking to them. Their mind is somewhere else.

But we were put on earth with an ego and a thinking mind weren´t we? So why would we disregard this tool totally? Why not master it? I always aim to have a small amount of positive monkey mind. A portion of my day is devoted to thinking. Instead of having thoughts about how bad and terrible I am at life, I try and produce the most productive thoughts possible. Productive thoughts create "feel good" chemicals in your body. The more you do this, the more momentum you gain. Negative thoughts create "bad feeling" chemicals within your body. The more you do this, the more momentum you gain. And when it´s bad, it can be a vicious circle. Just choose to send the momentum in the right direction, towards promoting feel good chemicals within your body.

But what do you do when your mind naturally wanders into dark territory? When something really bad happens to you in life, and no matter how hard you try, your mind seems to replay the thoughts over and over again. I think this is what is happening when soldiers get PTSD. Their minds replay the horrifying situations over and over again. The obsessive thoughts cloud the present moment. The person can´t engage with reality. And it can really be destructive to peoples lives. Maybe you have a bad breakup and you replay the conversations over and over and over again trying in vain to resolve the situation somehow. But it´s impossible. The negative thoughts activate "bad feeling" chemicals within your body and the vicious circle gains momentum. Some get so locked into this vivious circle that they never make it out. And turn to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to make them feel good again. It really is a wrestling match. You have to wrestle your mind away from this dark territory and send it to a positive, productive thinking place again.

Just become conscious of your thoughts. Sit down without doing anything and recognise the fact that you are having negative thoughts. Then consciously think constructive, positive thoughts. About whatever you think is positive for you. Recognize the good feeling it produces. And do it more. And do it more. Until you have finally wrestled your mind away from the dark territory. Become obsessed with being productive and creating a good life. Become obsessed about coming up with creative ways to enjoy life again. The key though, and I stress this, is to always practise present moment awareness. What I try to do is devote more or less, 80% of my mental energy towards present moment awareness, and 20% to positive, productive, constructive thoughts. A mind that is not engaged with reality is useless. You can´t allow yourself to fully cloud reality infront of you. But use your thoughts to do something good in life and feel good.