The song on the radio

What channel are you listening to? As Ninjas in training we need to monitor what channels our thoughts are tuned into and what thoughts our minds are buying into each moment.  Is that channel playing workable thoughts? Or, is it playing thoughts that continue to distract us from the path of walking towards our values, and what we say we love?

When we first moved to Maryland from Colorado, I found myself driving down the 495-capitol beltway just south of the 270 split, where the road seems to go from 5 lanes to 10.  I was listening to a country western song that brought my mind back to the old days when I was dating a very adorable country western signer. Sigh! My mind was pumping out thoughts about how much I had loved this man and then the tears started to come out and then my body became acutely aware that I was surrounded by cars, minivans, trucks, and semi-tractor trailers, all going at least 55 miles per hour! I reached up and changed the channel to a benign song with no attachment to my heart or my mind.

Our minds are associative on purpose – to save us when we are in danger.  Fire = move away. Gun = run. Chocolate = eat.

If I said to you, “Mary had a little…..” You would probably say “lamb.” But you could also have had a different thought and the end of that prompt could be anything: puppy, kitten, or pink purse 🙂

The fact that our minds are so associative can be both a good and not-so-good thing; sometimes workable, and sometimes not so much. In fact having the thought, “I miss my relationship with the singer” was not workable as I was traveling 55 mph surrounded by a beltway of cars, vans, and semi-tractor trailers.  Later when I had time to sit with that thought, when the song was not pulling for associations of love and care, sitting with the thought that I missed that old relationship, I was also able to unfold some of the thoughts that my mind had hidden, for example the bar fight, the groupies, and the dissimilarities between his world and mine. I had to thank my mind for the untimely thought and the song that so easily transported me to a moment of joy and then pain.

Being mindful means: being present in the moment on purpose and without judgment.  It can be a lifesaver! Recognizing that we can change the channel to something that works is priceless!

I am not suggesting that we avoid all bad, sad, ‘take me down to the cellar’ thoughts.  I am suggesting that we tell our minds, “Not now. Later”. Later when I am more able, when I am surrounded by comfort, a cup of tea, my cat or with someone who is willing to be with me and help me process my bad, sad, smelly-cellar thoughts. As ninjas we are learning to contextualize our thinking so that it works for us and not against us. Practicing mindfulness is a critical skill that all Emotional Ninjas have and keep as close as their heart.

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