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Minding the Mind

October '08

These days we are besieged with discouraging news and information – probably more than we want, or ever expected. This constant barrage may not only exacerbate realistic concerns, but can also activate pessimistic thoughts already lurking in the recesses of our subconscious minds.

“As you think, so you become,” reads one Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) axiom. Years ago I attended a four-week NLP course for one glorious July in Winter Park, Colorado. As I learned more about the impact of my thinking on my well-being, I departed with a determination to track my thoughts more consciously.

On my daily walks, I began a process of what my current yoga teacher calls, “minding the mind.” I was utterly astonished at how many negative thoughts I observed. I had believed I was an optimist, but let me tell you I heard enough gloomy, internal voices in a 20-minute time span to keep a haunted house in business for years!

At midlife, one of the most important tasks is letting go of “stuff” that no longer serves you. That literally means packing up those things that you don’t need any more and taking them to your favorite charity, or somewhere else. And it also means releasing those self-sabotaging thoughts that hold you back from creating a more fulfilling future.

A critical aspect of this process is awareness, which is why I began minding my mind on those daily walks. Recently, I came across an NLP exercise that promotes such an awareness. You start by selecting a four-hour period in a day when you will be with people, or watching TV, and alone. Find a slip of paper, or sticky note, and every time you hear, or see, a message with a negative tone (from either inside or outside yourself) put a slash mark on the paper. You may even feel this message as a tension or tightness in your body.

These slash marks will help bring to consciousness the number of times negative thoughts are coloring your own map of reality. I hope you find fewer marks that I discovered when I started minding my mind!

I remain an optimist despite the massive changes I see on the horizon. In these challenging times, I find inspiration in the words of Abraham Lincoln:

“The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.”

Happy Halloween,



  1. thank you Bonnie said on October 27, 2008:

    I have been writing down every time i want to sabotage myself, negative thoughts, anxiety, etc. and it is beginning to change my life.
    your words tonight reinforced this action and opened me to another idea as well.
    be well

  2. Peggy Kimball said on October 28, 2008:

    Although I haven’t started yet, this practice sounds interesting. Since negative thinking is hard to define, having an activity that is concrete and physical makes it seem as though it will be quite manageable.

  3. Bonnie said on October 29, 2008:

    May your life changes continue effortlessly in wonderful directions!

  4. sonia said on November 27, 2008:

    may you be able to touch many life with unconditional positive regards

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