How to become the alchemist of your life.
In the previous two articles, in my musical perspective on life, I have shared with you how awareness empowers us to attune to our internal music and how our belief system determines the music we play. Let us now see how we compose the notes–– our thoughts–– and consequently, how we can create our reality instead of letting reality create us.
How do we create thoughts, will you ask? Don’t they just occur? Don’t they just jump into our minds like crazed monkeys, especially at night, when all we want is to sleep? How can we create them, and assuming we can, how do we ensure we create the right ones?
As a matter of fact, it is no different than programming and reprogramming a computer by introducing new software. The brain too, can be updated and reprogrammed, its neuronal landscape modified, and thoughts––after all, just bits of information implanted into our grey matter–– can be created and changed. To stay with our musical metaphor, the brain could be likened to an electronic keyboard, on which we have recorded a number of notes and melodies that can be deleted at will. The science of neurosplasticity clearly demonstrates that we have the ability to literally “change our minds” about our lives. The brain is highly malleable and amenable to the creation of new pathways. How is this done?
First we must make space in our minds for new thoughts. This is done by making pauses, by practising controlled breathing, silence and meditation. Then, through focused mindfulness we choose not to feed the disempowering thoughts that invade our minds. Then again, we replace them with the empowering thoughts. The key is to anchor them into the grey matter. That is achieved by repetition. As in learning to play music, repetition is key. What is repeated again and again, sticks. We create a groove. In neuroscience this is called wiring. The more often the same synapse of a neuron fires with a given thought, the more it wires itself.
So this is in fact how we create habits, attitudes and mindsets. Many are dictated by the subconscious mind. Let’s take the area of healthy living, for example. If, to begin with, we do not believe in our hearts that a healthy lifestyle is essential to a happy life, chances are we won’t change any of the unhealthy habits we may have accumulated over time. We need to consciously make a choice to live a healthy life.
Every day then, we create and reinforce the thoughts that are aligned with that vision. We let go of thoughts revolving around sweets, alcohol, junk food, soft drinks etc…and instead, we concentrate on thoughts about health and wellness, vibrant, fresh food, energy, exercise and movement, positivism, self-empowerment, discipline, self-esteem to name a few. This warrants a high level of awareness, effort, some discomfort to be sure, and even restraint. By the combined magic of visualization, intention and positive emotion, we literally embody our thoughts, giving them shape and life and, in the process, we create our reality. High level athletes use this technique consistently with great success. Through this powerful thought-creating capability, we are in essence, the alchemists of our lives. In other words, we have the power to transform the reality we live in. The question is: what is it that we want to create in our lives? That is a matter of choice.
Creating choice and change
In a world filled with paradox and puzzles, conundrums and dilemmas, choice isn’t easy. Many choices are rather hard to make, some even seem impossible. Most of them create discomfort or pain, but the pain that ensues by not making a choice is likely to be much greater. Choice is what determines the “music” we compose, its key and time signature. So far, we have learned how to compose harmony within by choosing our beliefs and values accordingly. Now comes the conducting of the music, the implementation of the overall vision. Every single day calls us to make a number of choices in our thoughts, words and actions. But how are they made?
Many choices are of subconscious nature. Our senses tend to make us choose pleasure over pain. Our emotions often listen to fear. So this raises the question: how do we make the right choice? It isn’t always obvious, is it? Some choices we thought were bad, end up being good ones and vice versa. Rationale and common sense aren’t always enough of a guideline. Nor is reflection, assuming we have the benefit of time.
More than anything else, it is about trusting our hearts. Don’t we often say: ”I knew it in my heart”, meaning there was no room for doubt? Scientific research has shown evidence that the heart possesses an inherent “intelligence” and that it is even studded with its own neurons.This heart intelligence enables us to manage the decision-making process by involving intuitional awareness. So, at the end of the day, the right choice is really the one that feels right, the choice that speaks to the heart, not to the ego.
Finally, choice needs to be implemented to create change. So many of us make choices but we don’t do a thing about it. The key to implementation is motivation––finding the why–– and discipline. It is true that there are times when, despite our best efforts, unseen forces seem to take charge. However, no matter the endless discussions about how much or little choice we really have in life, the fact is we can always make a conscious choice.
Conscious choice is ultimately at the heart of empowering change.