“Why struggle to open a door between us when the whole wall is an illusion?”
Most of my experience with thought painting began the year my daughter was put on life support many times over while waiting for a liver transplant. When faced with the thought of a child dying, it forces you to find ways to not go insane. Then there was the foreclosure on my beloved log home and a bout with cancer. Then there's the injustice and actions of dark hearts around me who have kept my daughter from being with her little girl and are keeping me from seeing or talking to my own granddaughter. Learning how to not live in darkness was vital to my survival. I had to learn how to control, or in essence how to paint a better world for myself with thoughts.
The average human brain has hundreds, if not thousands of thoughts per day. Sometimes single words will trigger a chain reaction of thought in the brain because of the way we have experienced life. If I got violently ill, for example, due to eating a poisonous mushroom, my reaction to just the word "mushroom" is going to be vastly different than a master chef who specializes in brewing mushroom sauces.
Of course, we know brains can be trained to respond differently, and be taught to think differently, but it takes vigilant practice and constant awareness to make this shift. If our thousands of thoughts per day are painted with conclusions of doom and hopelessness, then you can imagine the domino effect of negativity that happens.
Thoughts are so powerful; they define our sense of reality for each of us. (That concept is actually quite deep and will make a great future blog.) Our thoughts communicate with our cellular body every day and significantly affect it. In fact, stress is a major contributor to heart disease in the U.S. (Note the word: dis-ease)
I'm doing vasts amount of research, and this topic is part of the "new" that I want to explore as this new year begins.
“All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.”
I want to share what I've been learning to do over the past couple of years, and something else I learned to do back in 1999. Both are serving me well. The first is training my brain to stop a negative thought from entering my brain. I'm reminded of a honey bee hive. There are designated gate keepers at the hive's entrance whose single goal is not to allow any foreign bee from entering the hive. These gate keepers guard the entrance to the hive like tough bouncers and they will fight to the death to stop an intruder.
I'm not nearly so dramatic or aggressive, but I am adamant when a negative thought creeps in (and thoughts can be so slippery) about shutting that voice down as soon as my awareness awakens. Sometimes it's a future thought filled with angst. Sometimes it's mulling over the past. I'm getting surprisingly good at shutting out unwanted thoughts and bringing my them back to the here and now.
If, for instance, as I'm typing this and my mind wanders off to how I'm going to pay some bill that is coming due, I will grab hold of the worrisome thought by the proverbial throat and tell myself that it's 9:30 at night and there's nothing I can do right now, so stop conjuring up emotions related to the problem.. If that thought wants to crawl into bed after I've closed my eyes, I shut it down again. Sometimes I even chant something like "good thoughts, good thoughts, good thoughts" over and over.
As you're reading this article I imagine your thoughts have wondered away several times. You might be thinking "this is nothing new" or a word you read triggered your own thoughts to trail off and then you come back. Try something right now. Take 5 minutes (go ahead and time yourself) and do nothing but sit with yourself (music on is fine) and just let your mind ponder and wander, and mentally keep track of the places it takes you. If you've never done this, it will be very interesting! How many judgments did your thoughts make? How many times did you go into the future? What color are your thoughts? Dark? Light? Start learning about your own brain and thought processes.
Practicing this day in and day out has made it more automatic, and fewer and fewer negative thoughts have formed. There's a time to face the music of course. And with that hypothetical bill I mentioned, the fact remains it does need to get paid, but the emotions and problem solving associated with taking care of it are best played out at the moment when I can actually do something about it. By not worrying before hand, I save myself all kinds of unnecessary stress and angst that would have colored me blue and depressed.
You've probably heard the old adage, "Don't buy yourself trouble." It's good advice. Life dishes out plenty quite freely, so avoid adding to it whenever possible. Start by being aware of what you are thinking when you don't even know you're thinking. If you're feeling off kilter, off balance, or low and bleak, trace your thoughts backward. How you feel is DIRECTLY related to what you're thinking. The thoughts could have been swirling around in your subconscious for hours and you aren't aware of it. Thoughts are the only reason you feel. Period. Discover what you're thinking if you want to feel different. And then begin thought painting. Paint the world you want. It's worked fore me and I've suffered from depression.
DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE
There's been a very mean spirited person in my life who seems to feed on creating drama and pain for some of the people I love in my life. She redefines what it means to be controlling and manipulative and it has been very destructive to my loved ones and me. She must be a very tortured, unhappy soul to need to lie and feed on the misery she causes others.I suspect a lot of people have someone like her in their lives.
Dealing with this person takes immense letting go. She's not worth engaging. She can't be trusted. I believe karma will come her way one day. She has woven quite a deceptive and dishonorable life. One day maybe I'll have the choice to not have her in my life, but that day is not here yet. So I let go of her evil doing and her mean ways. Or I try to. I try to let go of how unjust she has been. I focus on maintaining good thoughts, healing thoughts and pray that the universe will do what is right.
I don't look too far ahead and I don't do a lot of "what if" thinking. I stay more in the moment and try to take each day as it comes without dwelling on a theoretical future. Starting a new day free of worry and dread gives me a fresh start and the needed energy to face the things in life that demand strength and positive thinking.
Understanding that the human race is strange and on many levels "not get-able" is helpful. Letting go is something I do every single day. Life is full of things that don't make sense; things that are unfair and unjust. I can't control much, but I can, to a large extent, control how I react and how I respond to what I can't change. I do a lot of letting go to achieve that.
All of these techniques and thought patterns help me restore balance. I find time for nature, for laughing, for being in the company of good-hearted people and staying in touch with those I love.
I'm expanding my "painting" to include some new techniques. Look for new blog posts coming up on that!
I've run out of time for going into the other thing I want to share that I started doing in 1999. I'll make that another blog. It's about how to tame your critic.
I would love to hear the ways you paint with thoughts and how you train your brain. If you're naturally a happy person, I'd love to hear about how you think. If you've struggled with depression or are a half empty thinker, tell me about your thought processes. What are your current struggles?
I'm an artist, writer, photographer, private investigator and an activist in small ways.
"Turning indifference into making a difference."
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