St Augustine: a breath of warm air

The very fact of having arrived here has created a shift in my thinking and I am curious about this shift and how it happened with seemingly no assistance from me.  I commented on the way down here that what we were doing is leaving in late winter and passing through an apple blossom spring, around Washington, D.C. and we arrived to summer in Augustine.

My mind seemed to follow that evolution and by the time I got here, I had a much more relaxed mind than when I left.  I know that I am going back to New England in a month or so, but that fact does not disappoint me, neither does it excite me.  What I like about visiting Augustine is the contrast that it provides from the rest of my life. A peaceful from life as I know it….it could have happened in Charlestown.

Maybe it is no more that the weather…warm air and cool breezes enhance my capacity to do what ever I feel like doing in my day.  I wake up when I like, I have a number of analytic consultations judiciously placed through out the day and I take in fiction, walks, good food and much quiet time.  So, you say, “of course your mind set would shift.”  But, except for the warm air and the cool breeze that is pretty much my life up north as well.  I am not at the core an unhappy person and that ability to shift my mind to ignore my ego and embrace my instincts, is getting stronger all the time.  Infrequently, I will find myself in some rumination that is nearly impossible to retreat from.  Those streaming thoughts of consciousness can interfere with everything that I am doing.  When I forget that I have given myself a mantra to help me to return to a more “zen-like” head, I can not get back to calm.  It is as if without remembering the mantra I find I have no immediate direction to take.  Remembering the mantra, on the other hand, provides a portal that indicates the next right action that will be in my best interest to take. A mantra is like a string tied to your finger to help you to remember not to forget something.

The major act of consciousness in this plan is simply to remember the initial thought that will manifest the transition.  What creates the new state of mind is a remembrance that at my core I have a capacity for happiness, a state which I see more and more as an accumulation of thought rather than as a feeling.  The importance of this distinction lies in the idea that a feeling arises from a location in us that we have no control over.  Bump your bare toe into the leg of a chair and the rising pain is not an option.  It rises to a pitch without any help from thoughts.  In fact, thought does very little to ease the pain of a stubbed toe.

So, we understand feelings as not being controlled by thought.  Actually when a feeling is attached to a thought we find it almost impossible to do anything about the thought because the feeling is so intense.  I speak often to my patients about this notion that “big feelings” arising from within the organism are no match for the consciousness.

Thoughts, however, are a very different animal.  A thought is malleable.  A thought can be changed.  The thought pattern involved with considering ourselves happy or unhappy is putty to the mind.  We can soften it by working with it and eventually we are able to mold it into most any thought that we want to have.  So if happiness is considered as a state of mind arrived at by applying thought, we can effect a change in how we are conducting our thought patterns and that change results in a calmer, more peaceful interior.

Shifting our concept of human dimensions like happiness and hope to be clearly understood as thought patterns give us a distinct advantage over our thinking that we have no control over the feeling we are experiencing.  When the feeling is a pleasant one like the kind that i enjoyed driving down to St Augustine, we automatically shift from late winter to early summer with little effort on our part.  In other words we have taken steps to change something that can be changed and by doing so we have become more conscious of the fact that we can take charge of certain state of mind that had previously be so overly cathected with feeling that we saw no way of making that shift.

Happiness is a thought pattern that we can grow.  We can cultivate happiness without having to change the world.  As we grow to accept happiness as a thought rather than as a feeling, we automatically want to move ourselves in that direction because the contrast between happiness and forms of misery are quickly identified.  In this new paradigm, un happiness and other forms of misery are seen as an indication of lack of balance.  The sensation of being out of balance becomes a sign, a signal very similar to the sensation of pain.  Believing in our capacity to shift thoughts will go a long way in helping us to not remain in a regressed state of misery and discontent.

It comes down to the thought that on the one hand life can be seen as happening to us; and our state in response to life can be seen as ours to apply.  Unhappiness is a tension that ought to remind us of what ever mantra we have chosen to help us to remember that applied thought is an applied psychoanalysis.

Analyse the thought, if you are experiencing it as negative ask yourself some questions about the negative thought.  Will it profit me to thinking of the worst case scenario?  Does my negative thinking provide fuel for the negative thought to become a reality?  Why am I finding it so difficult to let myself believe that my life will be O.K.?  And is it not true that no matter what I am feeling, tomorrow will arrive on its own accord.  Thoughts are like putty, mold them to your liking and life will feel creative……..

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