Sunday, October 14, 2012

Controlling My Mind Is Not The Answer; Learning to Pay No Attention To My Thoughts Is.

After about a month of attending AA meetings and enjoying my new-found “pink cloud,” I asked an old-timer to summarize the real essentials of the Program.  Knowing my propensity for intellectualizing, he told me, “It’s really simple, Don. You really only need to do 2 things: First: Don’t drink while you work the 12 Steps with your sponsor. Second: Change every thing else about your life.” While I stood there stunned, he just roared this enormous guttural laugh of his and then walked away.
I truly didn’t know whether he had been serious or not. He was – both serious and right.
I learned, without knowing I was learning, that thinking alters behavior and – simultaneously – behavior alters thinking. When I worked AA’s 12 Steps, didn’t drink, went to meetings, talked to my sponsor regularly, volunteered for service work, shared as honestly as I could, and really listened to others share, lo and behold, I changed. My thinking changed and my behavior changed. Everything about my life was changing, just like the old-timer had said.
Please understand, I didn’t sit up one night and, after reading some in the Big Book, consciously decide to alter my thinking and my behavior. By doing all these things I did – simply because I was told to do them – I changed. I became softer, my desire to drink just disappeared, my fears began to wane, my acceptance of myself began to grow. I was healing. I was being transformed.
As I mentioned in last week’s message, A Course in Miracles (ACIM) says in dozens of different ways, “Whatever is bothering me, upsetting me, frightening me, angering me, pleasing me, fulfilling me, satisfying me – remember, it is always an inside job. It is always the end result of my perception of my universe. It is always the result of my thinking.”
ACIM is also adamant that I cannot consciously alter my thinking. My thinking is all screwed up. My ego-world, which I created, does not truly exist. Only God exists. And He already loves me.  But my ego will have none of it. To accept the reality of being an already-loved spirit in the eyes of God is to have my ego die. My ego will smile at that thought and say: “Don’t worry, Donnie. That’s not going to happen.”
My ego self cannot fundamentally alter my ego self! My ego’s right. It is not going to happen.
I also stated last week that I am responsible for my happiness and my well-being. When things aren’t going right, my first reaction, still, is to find fault outside me. But, pretty quickly I can now stop and look instead at my behavior, my attitude, my thinking, my assumptions – all of which play major roles in how I perceive, react, respond, or contribute to the situation. That must be my focus, not trying to find fault outside me.
But how do I do that? If that’s how I think, how do I change that?
If I am to fundamentally change the way I think, controlling my mind is not the answer. If I try to control my thoughts, I simply begin thinking about my thoughts all the more. However, learning to pay no attention to my thoughts – that’s the answer.
I am not what I think. I also am not a body. I am not a human being that has, somewhere inside, an eternal soul. If I am none of these things, then who the hell am I?
Inside me is an Observer Self – so the Buddhists say. I think they’re correct. I believe ACIM says much the same thing when it refers to my Higher Mind – that part of myself that can hear the Holy Spirit. I also have an ego self that chatters constantly. I must discipline my mind to listen to this Observer Self rather than the constant chatter of my ego self in order to hear. That’s all I need to do to “control” my thoughts. Listen to my Observer Self, while learning to acknowledge and then ignore, my ego self.
As AA admonishes, if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. It means the same thing when AA says the same person will drink again. In other words if nothing changes, nothing changes. Reading AA’s Big Book  and thinking about it did not get me sober. Doing the Program did.
Trying to change what I think about will not change my thinking. Learning which of the two voices inside me to listen to – and then really listening to my Higher, Observer Self while hearing but ignoring my other, louder, ego voice  – will.
Thanks for listening, and – as always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#2 October, 2012
Copyright, 2012

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