A STRONG AND DISCERNING MIND?

We should all question our assumptions and the stories we tell ourself. So many of our assumptions are based on old, outdated thought patterns that we learned in and carried forth from childhood. A meditation practice can definitely help hone our thought patterns in this way. Meditation shows us how thoughts simply come and go. It helps us to create space between our thoughts and our self and puts us in the position of objective observer. This positioning gives us a bird’s-eye view of a situation, and seeing the bigger picture helps us to be less reactive. This, in turn, improves the health

of our central nervous system, not to mention our overall health and well-being.

All too often, we seek answers from outside sources that may or may not resonate with us or be aligned with who we are. Through this exercise, we will learn how to begin to have a dialogue with ourself in a Socratic way. We will begin by asking ourself questions. This is essentially a meeting of our own mind and a way of getting in touch with different aspects of ourself. It allows us to be in conversation with our higher self, God, nature, the infinite, or whatever you want to call “it.”

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We want to facilitate a self-reflexive dialogue that will help elevate our internal conversations. This is important because our thoughts are malleable things that appear in our mind. They come and go. Some thoughts come in and quickly fade away; others, we grasp on to, forging an attachment to and further shaping them We build on these thoughts and give them texture, volume, weight, longitude, and latitude. We can build on such thoughts in a variety of ways. Sometimes this includes unconsciously doing so in negative ways that can turn toxic and affect not only our mind, but also have a powerful physical and emotional impact. Know this: You are fully in charge of how you develop and build out those thoughts that pop into your head.

Quite often we are challenged externally. Something happens outside of us someone says something that pushes our buttons or we say or do something that doesn’t make us feel good afterward and resulting thoughts pop in and start to spiral out of control. And that’s not even to mention what happens internally. We have varying viewpoints inside of us. Because of this, we ofen avoid making decisions altogether because we are so internally fragmented about where our best interests lie. So, we suffer in indecision. Or we constantly have thousands of thoughts racing through our mind, many of which are wreaking havoc on our central nervous system by causing a heightened state of anxiety and stress. The purpose of this ritual is to stop the spiraling and indecision and, over time, to become a master of our own mind. I know very aspirational. But it’s a good and worthy pursuit.

A few things to keep in mind before we get started: With this self-symposium, there are no winners or losers because it isn’t a competition; it is a process through which a consensus and a feeling of satisfaction are attained. The objective is to help you reach an internal consensus about the truth your truth. In the course of this, some of our virtues are called into play we must be patient, thoughtful, tolerant, and compassionate with ourself as we embark upon this quest for our inner truth. It is a rational discourse to shed light on and illuminate an answer to a question that you have been mentally grappling with. Perhaps you’re thinking, “But I have no questions to answer.” Often, we don’t even realize those questions that dwell inside of us. It isn’t until we slow down for a long enough period for them to pop into our mind that they become apparent. With that in mind, when performed on a regular basis, this ritual can help us connect with our questions and answers on a more frequent basis, thus keeping our mind more regulated. Remember, this is not a brainstorming session, but a methodical investigation inspired by the Socratic method of using questioning as a means of energized critical thinking and illuminating new ideas to help alleviate the issues and pains in our life.

Ready to get started? You can do this ritual first thing in the morning to start your day with a clear head, to cleanse your mind before bed in the evening for a more restful night’s sleep, or at the first sign of a thought that has become rebellious. You will need a pen, and a journal I would recommend designating a self-symposium journal that you reserve specifically for this exercise. You’ll also find some space at the end of this blog to use for your very first self-symposium Feel free to enjoy a glass of organic wine as you complete this ritual (after all, wine was always served at these symposiums),

and reap the age-defying benefits of resveratrol as you clear your mind.

Now that you’re ready to roll, there are two approaches to this art of thinking. Choose whichever works best for you and, of course, you may find that different strategies serve you in different scenarios.

Why? So?

Start with a statement like “I hate my job” and then continue down the page asking and responding to the questions “Why?” and “So?” Continue writing for as long as it takes to empty your brain and thoroughly answer the questions. When you’ve finished, read back through your musings, highlighting any illuminations and/or breakthroughs that resonate with you. Find those revelations that are virtuous and beautiful and true to you, then build upon and develop them further, nurturing the most gorgeous, productive, feel-good thoughts in your head and leaving the rest on your paper.

The Question

Start with a question like “What does beauty mean to me?” Answer that question with brief, simple, unemotional statements written in first person (e.g., “I believe beauty is…”). Write down all of the responses that come to mind without editing that will come later. Once you’ve compiled your answers, expand on each of those answers with another question specific to the answer. Continue with this process until you’ve broken through and developed your thought into a dynamic composition worthy of contemplation. Thoughts that bring you down, upset you, or induce anxiety or stress belong in the garbage dump, not the Museum of Modern Art.

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