Our mind is a miracle. It is powerful. When we learn to train and harness its capacity, it can achieve anything, even its own healing.
Here is your Wellness to Go from today’s post:
To fully understand today’s Mindful Monday’s post please read Part I here.
Lessons from the Past
As I opened my heart and started getting curious in understanding my past, I discovered that my mind had become a fertile ground for toxic trees as a result of many toxic seeds that were planted unknowingly from a painful childhood.
I never really took the time to digest the emotions I felt as I went through traumatic and negative experiences and instead just brushed it under the carpet. In doing so, I closed up my heart and never really let it heal. In turn, my mind tried to compensate for it and built ‘false defenses.’
I learned that one of these defenses was my perfectionism.
In not letting my emotional wounds heal properly, I had built up this mental defense in falsely thinking that in anything I put time and energy into, it had to be perfect. Any flaws or anything wrong was not allowed. So, if everything was ‘perfect’, no one would be able to criticize or hurt me.
But then I also learned that my perfectionism did not have a ‘ceiling’ due to my toxic tree of never feeling good enough as a child.
No matter what anyone said, or how a situation was, the toxic tree in my mind would instead grow out very critical thoughts.
If anyone gave me a compliment, I would instantly feel not deserving of it and would dismiss it as ‘no, that cannot be true,’ confirming again the belief that I wasn’t good enough.
If something had gone wrong, the toxic tree would instantly turn inward and my thoughts would be saying, ‘that was your fault Gaby, you could have done better, how stupid of you.’
It was no wonder that I felt depressed with these thoughts circling around in my mind!
This critical thought would then spiral me into exerting unnecessary energy (giving up food, sleep) into trying to make the thing I was working on to be ‘perfect.’ The danger was in not having a ceiling to when I could say ‘okay, that is good enough,’
I never learned to internally validate myself and let my body and mind rest.
I was stuck in a never-ending cycle of work and harsh self-judgment, with the paralyzing fear that if I wasn’t perfect I would be hurt again.
In my anorexia, I learned to notice that my critical self played a big role in using food as a form of self-punishment. Whenever I didn’t fully complete a workout in the way that I had planned, my critical self would say, ‘you don’t deserve to eat, you failed, you’re not good enough!’
As I began to be aware of my critical thoughts and where it came from, I slowly realized I no longer needed to be operating in the same toxic thoughts again.
Our Miracle Mind
Thoughts are the connection between the mind and the body. –Dr. Caroline Leaf
Dr. Caroline Leaf explains that as our brains our neuroplastic, meaning that it has the capacity to change and regenerate.
I held on to this belief in my determination to heal naturally.
Dr. Leaf found that our minds are naturally wired to think healthy thoughts. In doing so, healthy seeds grow fast and grow into healthy trees. As we stop ‘feeding’ the toxic trees, these toxic neurons die out (it takes around 21 days) and literally get replaced with healthy seeds, which grow into healthy neurons. With a mind filled with healthy trees, we get a healthy mind. With a healthy mind, our bodies become healthy.
After understanding where my toxic seeds came from and how it grew toxic trees. I decided to begin planting healthy seeds.
Through daily commitment, I trained to become aware of my own mind.
In the video, Dr Caroline Leaf talks about how you can reform your memories in a loving and positive way.
So here is the process I still practice daily that helped me recover and still practice daily to maintain a healthy mind!
5 Steps to Harnessing our Miracle Mind:
1. Feel to let it heal!
I spent over a decade in habitually locking away my emotions. I learned this was a hurdle in allowing myself to heal fully. Now, instead of locking my feelings up up or putting it away, I practice in allowing myself to feel.
From experience, feelings only become stronger when we continue to avoid it. However, when we face and become intimate with the feeling, and we actually begin exploring it the intensity of the feeling dissipates away.
I say this to myself every time I want to explore an emotion:
‘Thank you heart for having the capacity to feel this (name the emotion). It is okay for me to feel, it is safe for me to feel. In feeling this (name the emotion), I allow myself to explore the thoughts behind this feeling and I welcome any lessons that may come from this exploration.’
Whenever you realize that you are avoiding feeling an emotion, try the above affirmation and as you feel comfortable with the emotion and feel the emotion fading away, move on to step 2.
2. Get curious.
As soon as I sense a negative thought arising, or whenever I felt my mood sinking, I would get curious of it.
Where is this thought coming from?
Did someone say it to you or an event trigger it?
Is it really true? Do you really need to believe it?
How useful is thinking in this way? Does it benefit you?
If you continued thinking and believing in this thought, how does it make you feel?
If it makes you feel down, this is a hint that the thought could be toxic!
3. Commit to planting healthy seeds
I would then release this negative thought, by thinking a positive thought instead.
In creating the positive thought, I ask myself the question, ‘Is there a better or more loving way to think or perceive this thought / situation?
For instance in toning down my critical self, whenever I hear or feel my mind beginning to criticize myself, which may sound like, “You could have done better, no not good enough, do more, work more, you don’t deserve this compliment…”
I would talk back to my critical self and say,
‘Thank you for sharing, but I choose to treat myself with love and respect. I have done the best I can and for me this is good enough.”
4. Shower the seeds daily
As you continue to practice in planting healthy seeds, the negative thought patterns will be wired out of your mind and you will not hear or the negative thought will not affect you anymore.
In strengthening the habit of showering my healthy seeds, I start each morning upon waking and say in my mind,
“Thank you for another day. Today I choose to think, act, and feel from a loving place.”
This affirmation sets the tone of my day and whatever in the course of the day happens, I choose to perceive it through love. Hence, only good will come from my thinking.
As you progress in becoming aware of your thoughts, repeat this affirmation and see how it helps you go about your day in perceiving your thoughts.
5. Let it grow!
Now that you have cultivated a healthy habit in thinking healthy thoughts, begin to see the positive affects in your life and take note of this.
The improvements might be slight but definitely worthwhile!
Perhaps you have more energy to go through your day,
You have more bounce in your step,
or you smile a bit more,
or you choose to treat yourself more kindly.
You begin to feel more grateful and notice many more things to be thankful for.
Instead of being usually stressed or fearful or anxious,
you begin to feel more at peace and calm as you go about your day.
*Credits goes to Dr. Caroline Leaf for her 21 Day Brain Detox Program which inspired this post!
So here are the 5 steps again to take away for your very own Miracle Mind:
Take the time to go through each step as long as you need to. It’s best to not rush through as the habits that last are those that we take the time to commit to doing and practice actually doing them.
Remember there is no time limit in developing a good relationship with your mind.
It is a life-long practice.
Our mind is a miracle. It is powerful. It is there for us to use, harness its potential in the most, loving, good and positive way.
In the comments, feel free to comment on what you think of the 5-step process to harnessing our Miracle Mind.
Do you have your own experience or your own tool to share in how to become aware of your own thoughts? Please do share!