If I had one wish for you, it would be to know what it’s like to experience yourself separate from your thoughts.
You would see yourself as some perfect being just peacefully living your life. All those exhausting thoughts and the feelings they cause would not be a part of your true self. They would be like items of clothing that you’re wearing. The thoughts and feelings (just like clothes) look like they’re a part of you but you can shed them or change them at your will.
It’s possible to get to this peaceful state of mind.
Peace of mind for me means I can separate myself from memories and worries. I still have toxic thoughts. What’s different is that I don’t see them as part of me. I see them as thoughts that I can choose to have or believe. Or not.
I’m not perfect at it. Just good enough to get past depression.
You and your mind may seem like one unified being. But if your mind is working against you, it’s worth learning how to separate yourself from your mind and just witness what your mind is up to.
You don’t have to trust your mind just because it’s yours.
You’ve probably had some experience of witnessing your thoughts. Maybe you’ve caught yourself thinking something absurd and it jolted you to say ‘why am I thinking that’. You looked at your thoughts and for a quick second you were someone who was a witness, a bystander, rather than a direct participant.
That quick second is the sweet spot. It’s possible to train your mind so this happens when you want it to and it lasts more than a second. The training that helped me was mindfulness training.
Mindfulness gives you the ability to know your mind. When I’m in a mindful state, I can experience reality without the filter of my mind. It’s a way of being in the present moment rather than lost in thoughts of the past or worries about the future.
It’s a peaceful place. It’s not a place I live in all the time. It’s a place I can go to when my mind is causing me to feel anything I don’t like.
Here are some directions to get to this place.
First, notice what you’re thinking right now. Are those thoughts making you feel like crap? Yes? Well then let’s make a turn off that road. Think of what your breathing feels like right now. What do your shoulders feel like right now? What do you smell? Are you warm or cool? What do your clothes feel like against your skin? (I’m assuming you’re dressed.) You’ve arrived! Instead of being in your mind, you are in your body. You’re noticing the facts of what your senses are taking in right now. You are in the present.
That’s just a quick visit. Mindfulness training takes time and the practice takes even longer. But the peace of mind it can give you is worth it!
If you’ve had some success with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), you might also want to check out Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). It’s a blend of CBT and mindfulness training. It has a great track record of preventing depression relapse.
Is your mind the boss of you? Please share your thoughts below!
About the Author
I promote peer support and encourage people on their recovery journeys. My plan with this blog is to build a community of like-minded individuals offering ideas and encouragement from their own experiences. My master plan is to help create psychologically safe and supportive workplaces. I live in Calgary, Canada.