Forever, A Student Of Life

One of the most beautiful realisations that I have come to and continue to learn more about is that I don’t know a thing about anything.

I look at a tree for instance, and usually you draw your conclusions. “It’s just a tree”, you might say. But coming to the realisation that it is more than just a tree is profound.

It may look like a tree from where you sit, but there is so much more to it than meets your eye. That tree is a whole system of trillions of cells working together to create a singular tree which is then just another piece of a larger system and it can go on and on and on.

Pannasastra High School – Battambang, Cambodia

So, what you see may just be a tree from where you sit, but there are millions of other pieces to that tree that you are yet to know anything about. That makes you forever a student of life.

Humans Doomed To Suffer?

The Buddhist say that “life is suffering”. That is the number 1 noble truth in Buddhism. That might sound as though we are doomed to suffer in life, because that is what life is on a fundamental basis – it’s all about suffering.

So, do we just live to suffer and suffer to live, or is there another way around this for us human beings?

There are many ways to reduce our suffering so that life does not have to weigh us down as much as what it is capable of doing. But before we get to that, isn’t it necessary to look inside ourselves and see how our minds are working against us? Our minds are just a fraction of what life is for us, yet it tends to dictate how we experience most things.

We become attached and identified to our intellect, not realising that the stories we have told ourselves about who we are and what this life is about is nothing but a series of memories and imaginations that come and go with time.

I’ve noticed that there is a very distinct difference between pain and suffering. These two are not the same and should not be confused. Pain is a sensation. It is neither good or bad, yet the judgements we pass up about pain is negative and this creates friction. We tense up over the pain and we begin to wish that it was no longer there. This is what we refer to as suffering – the resistance to pain.

What if we just felt the pain without suffering it? We would save so much energy, wouldn’t we?

Creative Methods For Learning Mandarin – Chineasy & The Learning Brain.

A few screenshots taken off the app – Chineasy by ShaoLan Hsueh.

Through my quest to learn Mandarin, I stumbled across a brilliant system for learning the language.  The creator of this system is, ShaoLan – Chinese born but raised children in England and found herself having to teach Chinese to two native English speakers.  

The result of this is the great system she created, by integrating artwork with the characters.  I found this method for teaching so innovative and creative.  

This integration of art while forming new synaptic connections as you learn more and more about a certain topic is something that I have been particularly attracted to for a few months now.  

There is something about art that helps with memorisation and understanding.  The brain tends to remember in images a lot, as so using visual art to strengthen those  new forming synaptic connections in the brain proves to be an effective method for understanding and retaining new information.   

Negative Thoughts & The Cells In Your Body

A diagram copied from the book ‘Evolve Your Brain’, by American neuroscientist and author, Dr. Joe Dispenza.

This diagram displays what happens on the cellular level, when you experience thoughts of anger or shame. The thoughts occur in the neocortex, or outer region of the brain. The nerve cells in the neocortex send electrochemical signals to the middle region – the brains emotion making factory.

Its in the pituitary gland releases peptides into the bloodstream. These peptides that are released as a result of thoughts of anger and shame then get released into the organs of the body. On a cellular level, these peptides related to anger and shame link up to receptor sites on each cell and these nerve cells get passed back and forth between the brain and the body.
Thoughts of anger and shame create negative, uncomfortable feelings of anger and shame in the body. An emotion is a chemical reaction which triggers feelings in the body. These feelings cause us to act. You might notice that when you are thinking thoughts of anger or shame, your body feels that anger and shame. Due to discomfort in your body, that then leads to more thoughts of anger or shame; this can apply to many different thoughts and emotions.

If you are thinking happy thoughts, then your body is usually experiencing states of bliss and pleasure. These feelings of bliss and peace feed back to your mind, leading to more positive thoughts – that would be considered a “good mood”. If you are like most people, then you experience a whole range of negative thoughts and emotions throughout each day of your life; anger, guilt, shame, anxiety, envy and frustration. The issue is, the human being is a habit making machine.

The mind and the body get stuck in their compulsive patterns. So, you can imagine that after a while, all of the cells in your organs start to become conditioned into taking some of these more toxic emotions, like anger or shame. Like our minds, our cells become addicted to certain chemicals that are a result of negative emotions.

On The Flip Side

If you perceive something to be either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, who is it that is passing these judgments? – Its the bias of the mind. 
The mind is full of opinions and judgments based off past experience. 
The danger with this is, whether you label something as good or bad, there is always a flip side that you are remaining blind to – something that may not be visible, immediately. 
Have you ever suffered a situation, only to realise that it was one of the best things to ever happen to you? Initially, you judged the situation as something negative in response to the pain you felt and the opinions you formed around what you experienced at the time. But, now that we know there is always a flip side, then what damage does this bias of the mind cause?
If we experience pain or something that doesn’t meet our expectations in life, then we automatically label this as a negative event. This lack of perspective is a hindrance to our overall well being, because every time we feel pain we are going to get bitter about it and every time we feel joy we are going to hold on to it as if its a scarce resource. 
A way that I have learned to counter these negative judgments is by flipping the coin on any situation that I perceive as negative. I reflect back on some of the events from my past which I perceived as negative at the time, and I think about how those events actually turned out to bring a lot of growth and joy to my experience. 
This is not an attempt to adopt a mindset that only sees positivity. That is an unrealistic goal, given that our minds are meant to pass judgement on things in order to help us survive. Rather, this is a tool to counterbalance the two opposing forces within your mind. Life is after all a construct of forces that play together to make up what we experience. 
Counter a negative with a positive. Flip the coin and try to imagine what “good” could come from your “bad”. The light is there for you to see, you just need to open your eyes.

The Workings of The Subconscious

I began my study of the subconscious mind earlier this year. I didn’t go too far into the research, at all. I read a book written by Dr. Joseph Murphy, a doctor in psychology with a passion for divine science.

It was in this book where I learned about the general workings of the subconscious mind. Rather than delving too deep into this topic, I remained on the surface. The book, ‘The Power of The Subconscious Mind’, written by Joseph Murphy taught me more about the subconscious mind on a philosophical and practical level. This was the perfect thing to stumble across, at the time.

I was living in a rural village for over a month when I began doing my own scientific experiments with the subconscious mind. I would take afternoon naps, where I would spend the first half an hour in a state of meditation where I would visualise visions for the future.

After some practice, I realised I wasn’t clear on what it was that I wanted, so I made sure to become clear on some of the short term things I wanted to put into place.

It was an important time for me, in terms of mindset. I was living in a rural village – life was so different, you cant even begin to imagine. You take some lessons away and you try to put them into practice once you settle.

I have done some of my own experiments with the subconscious mind since first learning about it. I wanted to change my relationship with money as I felt it caused me a lot of suffering and stress. I held a mindset of scarcity around money, which is ironic considering I come from a prosperous country, like Australia.

Once you change the way in which you see money, you start to let go of some of the anxieties you held around it. So, it was important that if I were going to adopt a new mindset, it had to be a mindset that promoted the well being of myself and those around me. Once I changed my attitudes towards money and the meaning I attributed to it, that is when I began to plant the seeds.

I did many sessions of self hypnosis, I spent hours visualising and not only visualising laying down. I would go for intense runs and visualise while my body was in a state of alertness, intensity and energy. I was told to think of a number or amount of money I wanted to obtain and after that, I was told to let the subconscious come up with the answer.

By this point, I believed in this whole process because I knew believing in it was the only way you can actually make it work. You have to have unwavering belief and desire to even stand a chance. I had to do a little bit of brainwashing to get to this point. I would listen to tapes over and over again. Tapes talking about how to use the subconscious mind to get what you want.

After planting the seed in the mind, I would cease to think about the topic with the conscious mind. This means, I never did any brainstorming or strategising or thinking about how I was going to get this amount of money. That is for the subconscious mind to do.

The crazy thing is, things have come to fruition so quickly, I wasn’t even conscious that it was happening at the time. I would come to the realisation that I had hit my targets, but it wasn’t even a surprise by that point. This is probably because I changed my beliefs around money and I began to have a high level of belief in hitting a very concise, clear and realistic objective.

The Mind & Body Dilemma

This is the issue with the mind;
When something doesn’t go your way, we pass judgement on that event. “This event is negative”, “This emotion is negative”, “This thought is negative”. 
What does this judgement do? – Its adds more pain to what is already there.
When you feel, your minds first reaction is to get rid of it. We have this proclivity to run away from pain and move towards pleasure. This is the nature of the human mind and body – to avoid pain and seek pleasure. 
When the mind triggers and thought and creates an emotion, this emotion gets magnified throughout the body. We ‘feel’ anger, we ‘feel’ sadness, we ‘feel’ joy.
The problem is, whenever we feel pain in the body caused by an unpleasant thought pattern and emotion, our minds judge that feeling in the body as ‘negative’. It gets caught up in the feeling and then feeds the thought pattern through its vibration frequency. Once we get caught up in this sort of judgement and this loop between judging the negative feeling with a thought and then getting lost in the thought patterns that are continuously fed by the negative emotion, we have become identified with the mind. This is where we live most of our lives, trapped inside the mind. 
If you ever experience a negative feeling, you can stop it in its tracks, rather than use it to feed your negative thought patterns. You do this by becoming the body. What I mean by this is, you cease to think with the conscious mind and you closely observe your body. 
Do not expect the pain or the thought patterns to disappear immediately. I have had to sit for hours and hours with certain painful feelings in order to detach myself from them. 
Once you observe the body, you come to realise something so profound. The feelings in your body caused by emotions are in reality no where near as painful as what the mind has you believe. The mind is a fear riddled machine with opinions and beliefs. It wants to protect you from pain, so it reacts to sensations in the body with panic. 
If you bring an awareness to the body, you will realise these feelings do not need to be fed back into the mind. We can leave these feelings in the body, letting go of whatever thought pattern that triggered this emotion in the first place. 
This takes practice, so don’t be disheartened if this takes you some time to understand and execute on.