You get a thought to pick up the phone and check Twitter. But then another thought comes to the mind telling you, “Hey, remember what CrazyPolymath said? You don’t have to do everything your mind says.” Now, even if you don’t pick up the phone, you are still basically listening to your mind’s order. What we say controlling the mind, is just preferring one thought over another. (But who is making this preference? “You,” which is again a creation of the mind. I am not talking about “you” as your body, but the concept of “I” that is inside your head. Let’s keep this topic for some other day.)
Controlling the Mind vs Mastering the Mind
A true master of art does not control his art; he understands his art. Not just an understanding on an intellectual level, but at such a level that the understanding becomes his intuition. When you truly understand something, you update your intuition, and intuition updates your instincts, and instincts naturally lead to action.
“When something serious is really understood, it naturally translates into action.”
- J. Krishnamurti
True mastery is more about understanding than controlling. But any understanding that isn’t paired with execution and observation is not a true understanding. For example, I may tell you that “thought indulgence only adds misery to your life.” But, if you don’t inspect your thoughts and observe how each one is leading you to the path of misery, then you understand the concept only on the intellectual level. Understanding, execution, and observation go hand in hand. This eventually leads to fusing the understanding into your intuition, and you act without thinking.
But what if we end up fusing a wrong understanding into our intuition? This is often observed in sports when an athlete trains an incorrect pattern, and that leads to hindrance in performance. It takes extra effort to correct the wrong form that has built up. This is exactly why execution and observation are essential to gain a true understanding.
Don’t just listen to the gurus; execute and observe for yourself to gain a deeper understanding. Repeat multiple times. In the journey to master your mind, the good thing is that all you need is already available to you — your mind, and the bad thing is you are your own coach.
I have a habit of sitting down, inactive, for 30 minutes after my meals. During these 30 minutes, I tend to turn my awareness inwards and listen to my body and mind. Last Sunday, I sat down as usual after taking lunch. A number of thoughts pop up, as usual, I acknowledged them and let them go. But one thought caught my attention, and I decided to indulge in it.
I mentioned in the previous email that I am writing a book on Goal Setting. Last Sunday morning, I was planning to speed up my work on that book. I planned out everything — how many words per day, what schedule to follow, and what promotion strategies to implement on launch. That afternoon, while contemplating after lunch, I realized that I’ve caught an unnecessary desire. My finances are good, and I don’t need to force myself into something unnatural. This is a typical example of a distracting desire.
But isn’t this laziness? You are free to call me lazy, but I don’t make any compromise with my writing. Not a word that comes unnaturally goes into my books and tweets. I can read a bunch of research and other authors on similar topics and fill pages with stories that entertain a reader without adding any real value. A big portion of writers write like this, but that’s not how I work. My writing mostly revolves around the insights I get on a topic, and you can’t force insights; they come naturally.
I shared this little experience with you to show you how I process desires. Desires pop up, sometimes I get carried away, but most of them are dropped after one or two introspection sessions. One must learn to analyze, and if necessary, drop his desires, else he remains a slave of them the entire life. Sometimes a desire might distract you from your main goal, or sometimes a desire might linger in your head without any accompanied action. Both add unnecessary anxiety to your life; it’s better to drop them.
Until next time.