Thursday, April 7, 2011

How to Experience Peace of Mind

The thoughts we choose determine whether or not we experience peace. We have the power to choose thoughts of fear or thoughts of love. As we monitor our thoughts, we can decide to eliminate negative, toxic thoughts and replace them with peace-filled, healing ones. This is one of the greatest powers we possess, for our thoughts determine the words we speak and the actions we perform. We are what we think.

As we monitor our thoughts, we become observers and managers of them. We then can choose to eliminate negative thoughts before that overwhelm us and replace them with positive ones. For example, if I find myself criticizing a situation or person, I replace those judgmental thoughts with loving ones. I pray for those whom I have allowed to offend me. I look for the strengths in others, rather than weaknesses. I celebrate the divine in everyone I meet, remembering that we are all children of God, who loves us with immeasurable love.

Just like it's easier to pull a weed when it's small, it's easier to remove negative thought patterns when they first begin. If you find that toxic or unpleasant thoughts are disturbing your peace of mind, replace them with thoughts of gratitude and love. I have learned that when we foster loving thoughts, it dispells our fearful ones.

In his book Anatomy of the Soul, Dr. Curt Thompson shows have we can rewire our minds by transforming our thinking patterns. A psychiatrist, Dr. Thompson shares many ideas that help us do that. Here are a few of them:

Meditation "The practice of meditation....puts us in position to be open to God's search of us. It enables us to be aware of our bodies and how God may be speaking to us through them." Psalms 119 says, "I meditate on your precepts and consider yours ways....Cause me to understand the way of your precepts, that I may meditate on your wonderful deeds."

Prayer "Meditation naturally leads to prayer. Paul admonishes us to be devoted to prayer (Colossians 4:2); not only should we long to pray, we should be aware that it, too, will require hard work....Prayer in turn leads us, like the psalmist, to answer God with our prayers of petition and praise as we become aware of the depth of his love and beauty."

Fasting Dr. Thompson says that fasting "puts us deeply in touch with our bodies" and helps us realize how often we use food to "shut off distressing emotion triggered by implicit memories."

Study Dr. Thompson suggests that keeping a written prayer and reflection journal is helpful, along with enjoying the beauties of nature and various expressions of art.

As we pray, meditate, study, and serve, we discover the mind of Christ. Consider Paul's words: "The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace" (Romans 8:5-6). "The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit within?...Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2).

I have discovered that when I observe my thoughts, replacing fearful ones with peaceful ones, my life is transformed. As I reflect on God's infinite love for me, I can better radiate that love to others. As I feel His love, I want to share His love through service and kindness, which is a wonderful way to experience peace of mind.

© Carol Brown

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