Love & Light Bog by Diane Donovan-Vaughn 3/16/2019
The brain has a default for drama. Why? The answer is the very simple survival idea that focusing on negativity is safer. The brain scans for anything negative, focuses its attention on what is wrong about the world around it and then obsesses on the drama it finds until it builds a negativity neural highway of connections readily accessed for its continued mission of survival, which is called ‘the story’.
When the brain encounters a positive experience, it has a momentary pause and then may quickly drop the positive subject since it is of no use to its negativity bank of connections. Positive experiences often do not stick around long enough to create a neural highway or positive story, left behind as the mind continues looking for problems and drama. This negative tendency also explains why the mind keeps forgetting the good it uncovers and the good everywhere, most of the time.
In fact, it is said that the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive experiences.
Imagine for a minute some good news like getting a new job or getting accepted in some way. Almost immediately, the good feelings dissipate as thoughts about the upcoming changes take over.
The good news today is that a bliss story can be attained very simply with a daily practice. Today is the day to nurture a neural forest of bliss connections with a very simple practice. When beginning a practice, it is good idea to set up a regular time, like first thing in the morning, at lunch, before bed or all of those times. The more practice, the more neurons will be connecting.
The practice is one you have been doing your whole life for negative events except now you will stop fostering your attention on the negative story and place that attention on the positive story events throughout the day.
Imagine the good feeling you might experience when traffic is freely flowing and every green light is in sync just for you. As something good happens, the practice is to intensify your attention on the positive experience. Talk about it out loud and internally with the same intensity that usually accompanies the litany about bad traffic like, “Oh my God, you cannot believe what a fantastic drive I had on the way over. I mean the traffic parted like Moses parting the Red Sea just for me! It was awesome. What a great day! People were driving so smoothly and everyone was driving like saints!” With this practice, see how long you can sustain this positive story. If irritation occurs upon hearing the positive story just remember that the mind hangs on every negative word and can literally reject positive words. As the good feelings build, bask in the positively blissful feelings. It takes time for the brain to register the importance of an event and to make a pathway. The practice is then to do this intensifying activity throughout the day. Use reminders or schedule it like I said earlier for certain times of the day. The more you practice, the more the brain creates a bliss highway for you. A really good time to practice is when you catch yourself talking about all the troubles, woes and problems you have. Yes, these drama talks are effortless to accomplish because they tap into years of pathways in the brain, the drama superhighway. The intensity of language and focus can provide a guideline for how to construct a better positive story.
It is strange how the mind loves to escape from the very dramas it insists on noticing. Instead of truly paying attention to our emotions, it skips or avoids our angst, focusing on an enemy or cause and maybe looking for a cure to feel better. How much easier would it be to truly notice the feelings and emotions created by having a negative encounter and to comfort ourself like we would comfort someone we love and then to practice focusing on the good in our world instead of all the bad!
Here is one technique recommended to build emotional resilience: Notice a feeling or emotion when it arises. If you are talking internally or externally about an enemy or cause of an emotion, then turn toward the emotion. Pay attention as you name your emotion. Say, for example, “I am sad.” Next, change your words to third person. Say, “Diane is sad.” Then, say what the thoughts are connected to the sadness,“The mind or Diane’s brain is saying that life is sad and everything is awful and now it is looking for everything awful.” Finally and most importantly, practice loving self-compassion. Talk to Diane about her sadness as if she is someone you love, giving loving comfort for her sadness and gently showing her the real world. “Aw, I am sorry you are sad right now…” continuing for with comforting words like you would give a friend.
A great time to focus creating the positive story is right after you practice loving self-compassion. Remember the positive story is found simply by shifting the focus from the negative story to the real world beyond one experience of sadness. Feelings are real and they cause human suffering. Acknowledging personal suffering increases the ability to be self-compassionate. Cultivating a positive story, directs the mind to expand beyond a narrow experience of suffering into the larger world containing good and bad.
In this way, the feelings and emotions are validated from a slight distance and made more manageable to experience. Rather than running away or focusing on some enemy, the emotions and feelings are allowed to be waves in the ocean of experience. Plus, once again, the story of the problem is not given so much time to imprint on the mind. Without the dramatic story, emotions and feelings flow freely, rising and falling. The drama story creates a need for blaming and the need to escape the attachment that makes emotions as never-ending as the intense addiction to our brain’s need to look at what’s wrong all the time.
The Zen mind or beginner’s mind is one that is being. It is neither positive nor negative. Being neutral, however, quickly becomes positive. If it does not become positive then the negative story is still playing. As the mind rests from its negative obsessions, the universe very quickly unfolds as unlimited bliss. What happens when one meditates is an experience of oneness and bliss. Stop feeding attention to the mind’s negative belief projecting onto the outer world. Rest for a few moments on the pause in your breath pattern and the real world reveals itself as Love.
Remember the practice is simply to pay loving attention to your feelings, withdrawing attention from the negative story and then to increasing attention on the positive stories all around you with a regular practice throughout the day.
Today’s selection from Living a Life of Awareness – Meditations on the TOLTEC Path by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. is titled “Making Changes from a Place of Self-Love” on page 35.
Ruiz said, “The only motivation that brings lasting change is self-love. When you love and accept yourself, you want to treat yourself well and be as healthy as you can be. Only then do you have the freedom to detoxify from whatever has been subjugating your will.
“When it comes to being motivated by self-love to make changes in your life, remove the “I musts” or I shoulds” from your vocabulary. The key phrase is always “I want to make this change for me.”
“Making a change for yourself rather than to please others or to please your inner narrator makes all the difference between creating a temporary solution versus a lasting change.”
Ruiz practice: “What changes do you want to make for yourself today? Remember to make them from a place of self-love.”
Let’s practice: Take a deep breath and relax. Inhale through the nose and out through the mouth. Notice any thoughts you have and allow them to drift by as you slightly notice the subject of these thoughts. Notice any emotions or feelings you have about your thoughts, about yourself and about life in general. Send love to yourself. Send comfort to yourself for any angst you may be suffering in life. Notice the mind if it tries to contribute a justification for your feelings and send love to your mind. Tell the mind that right now, your negative story does not need any more practice. Right now, the real world of love is awaiting your focus. Send love to all the parts in you that suffer. Take a deep breath. Breathe in love. Namaste.