“Mind over matter.”
There is a power in your anatomical arsenal that goes far beyond the muscles you build in the gym. It is that thing under your skull that does all your thinking, feeling — yeah, emotions are a brain thing as well (sorry, heart) — controls your movements, and reasoning. This miraculous organ is constantly studied and researched, yet no one has been able to fully crack the true depths of the warrior — and manipulator — that is our mind. But we do know some things and as we move ahead in 2020, we wanted to do a little of our own digging to understand it a bit more.
The soldier (and the trickster) in your head
Your brain is the super of your human — it does all your heavy lifting. Because it is your anatomical authority, it’s vital to take care of it and work it out to maintain its power, just as you would your muscles. We won’t get into synapses, nerves, etc. here. We’re not scientists, as you well know. However, there’s no denying that our mind can make or break us, if we let it.
If you think about it (wow, look what I did there), the number of things our brain controls without us even knowing is amazing. My writing this article is made possible by conscious thought. Speech is automatic, sitting, standing, all of that, are controlled by your mind telling your body to “Move this, go here.” It’s your boss and your biggest supporter. And just as in a job, sometimes your boss wants you to do things you don’t want and your supporter eggs you on in ways that are against your better nature.
With enough focus and work, you can achieve anything from powering through a physical challenge to calming your thoughts and body when stressed. You truly do have the power to make changes in your life and personal space simply by putting your mind to it. That “mind over matter” thing. The grey matter in your head can also talk you OUT of things that are best for you, into things that may not work for you, and send you down rabbit holes that can exhaust and overwhelm you. That’s what we mean about training your brain, giving it the attention and support it needs to be with you not against you.
How do you do that? Well, here are two of our favorite ways. They work for us and we thought you’d like to give them a try.
This is all about recognizing the truth of things and reacting appropriately — either to embrace or effect change. Even in the worst of times, acknowledging that, “Yep, shit’s going down. Need to deal with it” pulls your brain out of the swirl and into action. It’s a healthy sort of recognition rather than a lamentation. Laying in something too long can become a habit and if it’s a negative thought process, it can take over your whole life. By seeing the good as well as the bad instead of denying it, you allow your mind to see it for what it really is rather than making it more or less than it is.
We have a tendency to be our own worst enemy when something goes awry. Beating ourselves up is one of our mind’s favorite pastimes. Fear, anger, sadness, worry — they’re natural responses. Instead of fighting them, which is our brain’s natural defense mechanism, we can acknowledge them, see how we can flip them to be used to our benefit and move forward rather than be held back by our own mind.
By taking the time to think through each of these, we will find that they can propel us when we realize each of these are excellent motivators for change, gut checks and release. Our emotions are valid and they all come from, yes, our brain. Sometimes they are heightened and that same noggin lets them get in our way. Okay. But if we acknowledge that they exist, that we aren’t always our best friend with these things, we can take each one when it comes at our own pace, sit back, calm those “voices in our head” and consider.
Whether you have a daily practice that works for you or it’s just sitting at your desk when things get hectic, closing your eyes and deep breathing for a few minutes to mellow yourself out, meditation is your friend. As you know, we are huge believers in it and it all comes down to one thing — it calms your mind and helps you focus. It takes you to a place where all of those things swirling around in your head can be brought into order so you can approach it all from a solid, thoughtful place.
The simplicity of this always blows our mind because what works in meditation is whatever suits you. Sure, there are tons of focused practices that help you destress, go to sleep, expand your mental capacity, bring about positivity and more. In the end? It’s all about becoming friends with your mind, gaining control over that thing that controls you and walking, hand-in-hand, through your life together. By bringing it in sync with your inner being and your body, you create a whole. After all, the two can’t exist without the other — our body can’t work without our brain and our mind needs our body to support it. Meditation aligns us just as sleep rejuvenates and allows us to replenish those healthy chemicals our brain needs to keep going, growing and flowing in the right direction.
“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
When I was a kid, my comic book collecting brother would let me tag along with him to the different stores filled with stacks of dusty smelling newsprint and glorious illustrations. I never got into the collecting part, but I was completely besotted by the stories and how they were so much deeper than they appeared on the surface. It was my introduction to the comic strip character, Pogo, and the world Walt Kelly created around him.
Kelly’s 1973 anthology was entitled, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The cover shows Pogo staring in a mirror. This is a line from one of his comic strips and a reworking of the famous, “We have met the enemy and they are ours” victory comment from Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry back in 1813. Kelly’s point was that we all have a battle within. The better part of our nature struggling against the thing inside that convinces us to go one direction rather than another, rage instead of calm, hate instead of love. But in that, we also have the other —
The love that leads us to heal the hurt in ourselves and another. The understanding that quells the anger. And the belief in joy that allows sadness to wash over us so we can make it to the other side and move on. That, too, is the brain. Our mind at work to be our salvation and our greatest challenge.
We have met the enemy, sure. But “he” is also our greatest ally.