This is the last post in the transformation series. As a recap, this series is intended to help you change nothing in your life but your perspective of it. We are speculating that: by starting to see your life, yourself, or your ADHD differently – without doing anything at all to change it – you will find yourself in a more powerful position to effect positive change down the line.
In Transform Your Life: ADHD to Zen, we talked about embracing the chaos of your life and getting out of your own way, to see the beauty of what you already have. In ADHD to Zen: Non-Doing, we discussed how the practice of non-doing or, of doing things effortlessly, without attachment to the results, can actually help you do things better. And in ADHD to Zen: Living Fully, we explored the notion that living fully is not about living happily, all the time. It’s about accepting every aspect of our situation as being okay, just how it is. Only then can we truly move forward, if we need to.
Today, in this last post, we’re going to talk about you. More specifically, we’re going to talk about the way you experience your life – through your thoughts.
I’ll try not to make this rabbit hole too long or confusing.
Most of us experience life through our thoughts about it. We ADDers, typically have more thoughts than the average person. Not ordinary thoughts, rapid-fire thoughts. Frequently, these thoughts can be very negative and drag us down.
In the past, I have written a lot about changing the way you think about things. We experience life through the lens of our thoughts. Life is bound to be unhappy if those thoughts are always negative.
Certainly, positive thinking has a prominent role in happiness. However, if you want lasting peace and contentment, then you need more tools in your belt than just optimism. Another “tool” for finding serenity can be to allow whatever thoughts occurring to exist, without changing or endorsing them.
“Thinking is the natural activity of the mind. Meditation is not about stopping your thoughts. Meditation is simply a process of resting the mind in its natural state, which is open to and naturally aware of thoughts, emotions and sensations as they occur… When you don’t understand the nature and origin on your thoughts, your thoughts use you… we can use our thoughts instead of being used by them”. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, The Joy of Living
Think about rain for a minute. Imagine big droplets of raining falling gently from the sky, splashing down into puddles, hugging the curb outside your home.
What are those rain drops? Are they the sky? Are they the condensation from the clouds within the sky? Now they have fallen, have they become puddles? What becomes of each rain drop that has fallen? Is a puddle a large collection of single rain drops, or one, single entity?
Your thoughts are those rain drops. They come and go. They are not you. They are an expression of part of you, but they are not you. And as they pass, they become like the rain drops in the puddle. A puddle which, by the way, will eventually evaporate and cease to exist.
You are something much more than the rain or the puddle. You are so much greater than those thoughts that drop by and evaporate just as quickly.
When you follow or cling to your thoughts – when you chase them, or give in to them, you allow them to become you, when actually – they are nothing but a passing phenomenon.
When you sit back and notice them – simply notice them without judgement or trying to shoo them away – you tap into the nature of your own mind, the ebb and flow of conscious cognitions. And you realize that, while they are part of you, they are not the whole.
Rinpoche tells us:
“Everything I’ve learned about the biological processes of thought and perception indicates that the only way to break free from the prison of pain is performing the type of activity that imprisoned us in the first place. As long as we don’t recognize the peace that exists naturally within our own minds, we can never find lasting satisfaction in external objects or activities. In other words, happiness and unhappiness (is an) inside job.”
Living successfully with ADHD is certainly an inside job. Notice when you are thinking negatively, feeling scattered, or unable to settle your mind. You don’t have to change it – just notice it. Notice how one thought passes and another replaces it, only for that thought to quickly be replaced as well.
This is the nature of the mind, but not the nature of you. Thoughts can be scattered, negative or unsettled – but you exist beyond your thoughts. Noticing them from this vantage point, allows you to navigate through them and, as Rinpoche says, use them instead of being used by them.
I hope this series has been helpful. I am curious to know what you’ve made of the concepts we’ve explored. For now, I am going to take a break from the mindfulness topic and explore other issues in managing ADD and creating extraordinary lives. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to share!
And have an awesome day.