Shift Your Thinking To Experience Peace!
The Essence of Vedanta is to show us how to transform the stresses of everyday life, whether at work, at home, or in the community, into meaningful exercises for self-fulfillment. Let us see “WHO AM I?”!
We define ourselves by what we do or what we have done. Our lives consist of citing names, dates, and lists to prove that all those things we’ve done have created a being worth his or her salt. But where was I in all this restless doing? And where did I disappear once the doing stopped? Now that the doing has stopped, am I still a worthwhile person – not even to speak of a person who might be respected, adored, praised? How do I define myself now, now that I am no longer a publisher, software engineer, gourmet cook, board member, or gardener
Most of us spend many years searching for ourselves – for our personal truth – outside ourselves. We seek that truth in a career, in parenthood, in undertaking impossible challenges. When careers get short-circuited in a demotion or layoff, when the youngest child leaves home for college, when a medal finally won, we are forced to stare nakedly into our own face and apprehend our essential identity.
Many of us dread that face-to-face encounter more than most other challenges of life. So we continue to add new layers of complexity to our lives as soon as any one layer falls away by accident or intention. We have barely left one job before we feverishly clutch onto the next opportunity, no matter whether or not our pocketbook allows us a respite. We finally succeed in abandoning an unfulfilling relationship, yet weeks later we’ve already engaged in another. We don’t allow life to become simpler. In fact, we’ve become experts in complicating it – and then we suffer from the ensuing worries, stresses, and endless complexities.
Our lives have much in common, yet each is unique. For you it may not be necessary to jump off the spinning merry-go-round in order to regain the center of your own truth. Many of us, though, are caught helplessly in the web of our activities, and we cannot begin to see ourselves unless we first make a conscious effort to stop. Once we make that stop and re-establish our inner balance, we can then continue to undo the frenzy – over and over again, while remaining in the midst of an active life. We do that by learning to use the mind in a new way.
You are what you think! If your identity is defined by the thought, “I am a talented software engineer” and then if that identity is further enhanced by the thought (probably never expressed out loud), “I am a worthwhile person because my talent has led me to achieve a respected position in my company”- you are never with yourself, never centered in your own being. You are also at the beck and call of the fluctuations through which your exterior identity may go. Position gone, identity destroyed. Position improved, self-worth soaring.
Thus, we dance like marionettes obedient to the strings pulled by the thrusts and changes of the world around us. The trick is to learn to think in such a way that we remain centered in our being no matter what changes may take place in the roles we happen to play (engineer, board member, gardener) or how intense the pace of activity around us may become. No need to quit jobs, change alliances, runaway from frenzied households. We can learn to push the ‘undo’ button while continuing with our lives as they are. We just need to shift our thinking! In the following steps (chapters) I offer some powerful ideas for creating such a shift in our inner lives. They also provide a series of exercises in undoing – in learning to find the quiet eye at the center of our varied storms!