The Mind Only Knows What the Mind Knows… so how do we ever change?
The mind only knows what the mind knows….
OK, I invite you sit with that statement a bit. Give it a moment to bounce around in that amazing, brilliant, fascinating mind of yours. Then, let it sink a little deeper into a heart space. What does this mean? What implication is there in this statement?
Over the past several weeks, this topic has come up often in the clinic and with friends. Over and over again, I have witnessed as people struggle with the choices before them, weighing options, looking at failure, loss, success, opportunity, sometimes alive with possibility, sometimes crippled by a sense of worry or simply wallowing in the unknown.
Our mind truly is an amazing part of our physical body. Capable of taking in thousands of bits of information through our senses and our intuition, our mind filters all of these bits of information and decides which parts are important, what to pay attention to, what to remember, and how to remember it. The mind takes all that it receives and connects it with an emotion to create a story, to program each memory. From the moment our nervous system develops, we are forming these stories. This is a big job. No wonder the mind seems so busy at times.
However the mind is not our entire being. And, the mind only knows what the mind knows. The mind can only pull from the experiences it has synthesized, stored and made meaning of.
Our universe is infinite with possibility. Our very being is infinite with possibility. But, if the mind is left to its own devices, it inherently believes in a sense of limitation. If it has only seen the color orange, but not the color red, it cannot believe the color red exists. If the mind does not know that a choice lies before it, it cannot consider it in the options it weighs.
I realize this sounds so obvious, but truly, does it? Because, despite the obvious factor in this statement, most of us believe that the only options available are the ones our mind is able to visualize.
We know that in order to make some decisions, we need to gather more information. We read, we go online, we add to the information stored in our brain, and along the way, our mind makes judgements of each of the things it learns, filing this information as useful, not useful, liked, disliked, option, not option. And, all of this filing is based on previous experiences and beliefs based on those previous experiences.
So, what does this mean? And, do we need to do anything about it? As I said, the mind is incredible, and serves us very well. And, if this was the end of the story, if would operate smoothly and without any suffering or angst. But, we do struggle. We feel trapped. We weigh options, feeling some deeper uncertainty about where life leads, worried about making the right decision, afraid to fail or get it wrong or feeling trapped in our current situations.
The truth is, we can’t think ourselves out of any of this discomfort. It simply is not within the capacity of the mind. Trying to think our way into understanding what life has in store for us is like asking the hand to pump blood or the lungs to carry us from one place to another.
So, how do we truly open to infinite possibility? How do we get under the stories to explore TRUTH? What is the space within which we can hold each of our mental stories and ask, are you true? Do you serve me now? With deep compassion and grace, we can examine each of our stories, find new meaning, heal old wounds, find new ways of communicating with ourselves, open to new possibility, but this is not possible through the tool that created the story in the first place. While mentally processing our stories can be very useful, there is an invitation to explore the infinite from another space altogether.
This place is called many things in different traditions. Our core essence. Our heart center. Our soul. I prefer heart, for when I invite presence from this space, it feels like the place where my true essence resides. It is the place where clarity can arise, through feeling, through color, through sound, through vibration, through pure essence, before the mind has taken it in and evaluated the experience. The heart is also throughout many traditions seen as the center of love and of soul. Feel free to use whatever image or word works for you, but know this place is beyond words and beyond images. It is not a place. It is all that is. It is simply where we access that place of infinite wisdom, possibility, creation, and love.
Every one of us has experienced what it is to truly know from this space. Maybe you have been hiking and turned a bend in the trail to come across the most beautiful scene your eyes have ever witnessed. For a moment, there is pure awe. Your heart center is filled with an overwhelming sense of indescribable beauty. Then, you turn to your hiking partner and you say, “wow, look at that view.” Your mind has now made meaning of the experience and there is a shift. The mind has filed this experience in a useful place, attaching it to the web of other experiences the mind has collected. But, what if that moment before the mind took hold of this experience lasted just a bit longer. What if you could simply rest in this space for a moment more? What more could be seen? What more could be experienced? How much richer could the experience the mind translated be? Could this inform your view of the world in a completely new way? Yes, and yes, this is possible.
This is the gift of meditation. This is the fruit of spending time settling into our heart space and feeling into situations. When we feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed by the choices before us, when we feel trapped, or disillusioned, we have the invitation to thank the mind for all of its beautiful work and then, sink into our heart center and simply feel. For a moment. For more than a moment. Either, way, the possibilities are infinite.
I do honor that this is not a comfortable space for many of us. Often our minds have created a story, initially to protect us, that tells us this place of simply feeling, of simply being is not safe. And, it will try to protect us again and again by attaching this process to emotions of fear or dread. It will send in distracting stories and thoughts.
But, this does not mean the mind should be abandoned or demonized. The mind is our meaning maker and it will be useful even as we go a little deeper and begin exploring what is really true.
I invite you to play with this exploration and if you need some assistance, please let me know. We can explore together and I have many incredible colleagues even more skilled in this oh so necessary connection to soul, inner play, integration process, that is inherent to being a fully alive, thriving human being.