Fundamental Truths of Life: 2. You are not your body or your mind
Everything in this article is borrowed from the book Inner Engineering by Sadhguru.
In the previous article of this series, how our emotions, feelings, and thinking were created from within with or without the help of external stimulus. In this article however, how we as human beings have the power and control over our feelings created inside of us by making clear of a few distinctions, will be discussed. If there is one line you want to keep in mind then it is this: our bodies and mind don’t dictate and define who we are and they are just simply tools given to us to fulfill our lives’ meanings and goals.
Let’s discuss the body-our physiological aspect first. It’s sole function is to move us from one place to another and houses our brain. That’s it. However, it needs to be in a good order to perform the tasks we give it to do. Thus, every organ, part, and even tiny cell must be functioning correctly. The thing is every part of our body does its job without our command, they just do it on their own. Breathing, for example, is done without us really putting much conscious effort into it. It just happens.
Also, it needs fuel to run properly. If there is no fuel in the tank left, it dies. So, we eat food and drink so that we can feed our body necessary fuel. From our birth to our current moment then is nothing but an accumulation of the food we have been consuming. This is all there is to it concerning our physiological aspect.
Now let’s talk about our mind-our psychological aspect. There are two minds in us: emotional and thinking or feeling and logical. If the job of the body was to move, mind’s job is to think and forecast the future to survive. Mind is the one who tells us not to fuck with the predators otherwise we would be attacked and can be killed. It is the CPU — the central processing unit, if we were a computer. It processes all the information gathered through 5 senses then comes up with whatever the solution we are looking for. To do this, it has 4 main functions:
1. It has to discern everything into the good and the bad — Judgement. Is this plant poisonous or edible?
2. It needs to store past information so that we can judge the good from the bad — Memory. Was this plant edible or poisonous?
3. It needs to be aware of external and internal subjects and objects — Awareness. Does this plant exist, is it real or am i seeing a mirage?
4. It needs to identify itself with certain things in order to judge who is who — Identification. Am i a plant or human being?
Then, from our birth, our mind has been executing these 4 main tasks everyday that it has become one big storage of memories. Our mind is just an accumulation of tendencies, habits, and impressions we have picked up over the years. This is all we need to know about our mind, there is nothing else about it.
Although, throughout many centuries of evolution, our body and mind have developed and has become one of the most marvelous and efficient pieces of system in the world, unfortunately, they also have become so complex to the point we have no more control over them. Our body has become a pleasure seeking machine whereas our mind has become a misery producing machine. These two marvelous tools of us function perfectly yet in total chaos. Our body has become compulsive whereas our mind has become a circus because we weren’t taught how to use it properly or we have been using them without reading the user’s manual. As a result, they have been running on their own for too long that we now can’t actually control them. You know you are on a diet but you see that dessert and give up on your diet. Your body‘s compulsive craving wins and you lose. You were killing it in the gym for a month after the new year and today you wake up and your body is being lazy, not wanting to go through that torture of exercising. But deep down you know you wanna go to the gym but your body is just not having it. And then, you give up, you find excuses like one day of missing is fine or whatever lame ass excuse you find to justify your defeat. Your body wins and you lose again. If this seems familiar to you, then you are no longer in control of your body. You are identifying with it too much.
Now, let’s turn to our mind. It is a bit tricky one. Our mind has become a misery creating machine because for some reason we have developed a habit of focusing on what is not going the way we want and less focus on what is going on right for us. This in turn renders us stressed, depressed, anxious, negative, hopeless and every negative state of mind you can find. Something horrible happened to us in the past and let it stress us and all this process is happening in our mind without our wish of doing so. Your boyfriend has cheated on you and broke your heart a year ago. Yet, you are still here hating him which in turn ruining your state of mind. We also tend to worry a lot about the unknown, what is going to happen tomorrow. There was a guy in my survival swimming class at the West Point and he was afraid of height. But in our class, we had to jump from a tower into a pool of water to pass a mini test. He just couldn’t do it and was forced to leave the academy. I don’t blame him who knows what has happened to him in the past but actually what took place was that his excessive worry of jumping from a higher point turned into fear. Sooner or later, his fear consumed him and he just couldn’t do it.
One has already happened and one is yet to happen, both of which don’t exist at the current moment. Some of us know that we don’t need to do these excessive regretting and worrying yet we do it every hour, every second. The mind is just doing what it has been doing; in fact, doing a great job, yet not without our consent. That is why it is a circus now. Every circus performers are great gymnasts, even the clown has a great talent yet the circus is organized to look like a mess, a chaos to entertain us.
However, the catch is the more you try to stop whatever negative thought and feeling you are having, the more it intensifies. There is no break in the mind, every pedal is full throttle. The more you identify with your thoughts or feelings, the stronger they become and consume you. I remember being sad as fuck when i was in my 3rd year at the academy. All those drills, formations, mandatory classes, lectures and pretty much everything i found useless and time consuming, i hated them. And the academy pretty much dictated how we would live from the moment we get up 6 in the morning until the midnight we go to sleep. And, the more i hated them, the more i was stressed to the point i was depressed. When someone is depressed, his joyfulness leaves him. He can’t no longer feel anything, any emotion. He cuts all of his emotions, he becomes a corpse. Life becomes dull, unnecessary and pointless to live any longer. Then, the effects of alcohol took over me. I was beginning to get addicted to alcohol because being drunk as fuck made me forget all the miseries i had and allowed me to have a short period of joyful time. When a new day began, only thing i was looking forward in my whole existence was that 6 p.m where i can go to the bar and get drunk. What a sad and poor life that was.
Luckily, there is a way we can break free of this cursed cycle of being defeated. We just simply need to understand that we are not our body or our mind and these two are just tools for us to fulfill our lifelong goal which is to live peacefully and joyfully, isn’t it. We can’t control the outside world since there are too many variables. We can’t dictate when the sun will rise, can we? However, we can 100% for sure dictate how we feel inside of us. We are the captains. Whatever feeling, emotion, thought, or mood you want, you can make that happen. Everything can go our way inside of us.
Let me explain how we can become the captains of our bodies and mind. First, it is not a tyranny. Just like i said earlier, the more you try to control your thoughts, the more they intensify. It is simply futile. Go ahead and try not to think about pink elephant now. What did you just think? You just imagined a pink elephant in your mind. Rather, you allow and accept every thought and emotion. You realize that those unwanted thoughts are existing in you. But you don’t pay attention to them, you don’t identify with those thoughts. Let’s say, you want to eat an ice-cream but you are on a diet. You want to lose some weight. What we don’t wanna do is think about not eating an ice-cream. Doing this will just intensify your desire of eating it more. What you wanna do is you admit to yourself that you want to eat an ice-cream but don’t pay attention to that thought. Some try to distract their desire by focusing on something else but this doesn’t work too since you have to be focused on something else all the time so that you can’t be at ease anymore. This is stressful too. What then you need to be mindful of is the fact that it is just your body craving for the pleasure of eating something sweet, not you. You on the other hand wants to keep your diet. You have to become aware of that space between YOU and your BODY and MIND. The last executive who makes the decision is YOU not your body or your mind. Your body and mind will always have their desires of wanting something, the seven great sins but you on the other hand can raise above these desires of seven sins fully free by being aware of that space. Then, when you no longer pay attention to those desires of sins, they will slowly die. You no longer need to remind yourself of that space between you and your body-mind, anymore. It becomes your second nature. This is how you control your inner state of being.
Now looking back at those miserable days at the academy, i know what i should have done within myself. Firstly, i should have accepted the fact that i can’t change how the academy works and dictates my life. Secondly, i should have realized that my mind was creating all those miseries inside me. And instead of trying to sleep my mind by consuming alcohol, i should have put in effort to be aware of that space between my mind and myself. Then, once i was aware of the space, it should have been much simpler and easier to put myself in a livelier mood.
Lastly, at this point in my life, i have just realized us human beings live in a paradox. We try to mold everything in our way. Even crazier, we wish the universe the whole cosmos be exactly the way we want it to be. We want and like everything to be our way so that we can be joyful and happy. This is how we think. But this is a faulty thinking for two obvious reasons: 1) the universe will never be like exactly the way we want, we just can’t dictate it and 2) if everything happened exactly the way wanted then where is the adventure and the reason to live? If everything happened exactly the way we liked, then where is the thrill of living? Our lives will become dull, lifeless, an adventure-less series of calculated and predicted events. This may be fun in the beginning, we get certain joy out of it but sooner or later, such life becomes a burden to carry on anymore. You know you don’t like being spoiled on the newest hot movie just released because watching a movie knowing how it will end is boring, isn’t it? Yet, this is exactly what we want and work for. And when the movie doesn’t end the way we wanted, we get frustrated. This is joke my friend. You are simply stressing yourself for something so stupid. You see, the main thing is we can be always joyful and peaceful regardless of what’s happening to us either what we wanted or not, regardless of how the movie ends. It doesn’t matter. If we can learn this skill to be joyful at any moment from within then there is no need to fear anything, no anxiety, no stupid worries and then at last we can fully enjoy our life with its great many unknowns, adventures, pretty much everything it offers to us! If this is how i looked at my life during my depressed period at the academy, for sure the 6 p.m drinking hour wouldn’t have been the only thing i was looking forward to. Instead, i would have been looking forward to every moment, every second for what they would offer and bring to me, wouldn’t i?