Free your mind

Say good­bye to in­ces­sant thoughts and find the real you.

Health & Fitness - - Contents -

Ever wished you had more in­flu­ence over your thoughts? Whether it’s a rac­ing mind keep­ing you awake at night or an in­ter­nal di­a­logue dis­tract­ing you from the task at hand, some­times it feels as if your thoughts con­trol you rather than the other way around. So, wouldn’t it be great if you could take charge of your mind? Ac­tu­ally you can, just not in the way you think.

‘The mind can never be con­trolled,’ ex­plains spir­i­tual gi­ant Byron Katie in her new book A Mind at Home with It­self (Rider Books, £12.99). ‘It can only be ques­tioned, loved and met with un­der­stand­ing.’

This is great news. Not just for those strug­gling to empty their mind when they med­i­tate, but for any­one who ever ar­gued with their best friend, can’t stop think­ing about their ex or is for­ever mak­ing plans that rarely come to fruition.


As a long-time med­i­ta­tor and yoga teacher, I’ve learned that, un­til you find peace with past con­flicts, you’ll never be free of the en­ergy they hold over you; en­ergy that of­ten finds form in in­ces­sant thoughts or feel­ings. What’s more, th­ese un­re­solved is­sues con­tinue to in­flu­ence your life in ways you don’t even re­alise: a past ar­gu­ment can make you overly cau­tious in all your re­la­tion­ships; not let­ting go of an ex can lead you to sub­con­ciously sab­o­tage any bur­geon­ing ro­mances.

To help peo­ple heal th­ese dif­fi­cult — but all too hu­man — emo­tions, Katie de­vel­oped ‘The Work’*, an in-depth tech­nique for un­rav­el­ling the com­plex threads of a highly charged emo­tional dif­fi­culty. Rather than us­ing a cog­ni­tive, left-brain ap­proach, she sug­gests you come to The Work in a soft, re­laxed man­ner; con­nect to your breath, be­come still and al­low in­sights to come to you, so you can by­pass con­scious thought and gain a more in­tu­itive un­der­stand­ing of the sit­u­a­tion you’re work­ing with.


Choose an un­re­solved emo­tional dif­fi­culty and ask your­self what you feel and why? For ex­am­ple, you may be hurt be­cause you feel a friend is us­ing you, or per­haps you’re an­gry with a col­league for not pulling their weight. When you’re sat­is­fied you’ve fully ex­plored your feel­ings, one by one, move onto the re­main­ing ques­tions:

What do you think about this per­son in this sit­u­a­tion, and how would you like them to change? What ad­vice would you of­fer them? For you to be happy, what would you need them to feel or do?

What is it about this sit­u­a­tion you don’t want to ex­pe­ri­ence again?


This process is valu­able in it­self, but Katie en­cour­ages you to go fur­ther, ques­tion­ing if what you think is re­ally true and the im­pact on your life of be­liev­ing it. Ini­tially, the tech­nique bears some re­sem­blance to cog­ni­tive be­hav­iour ther­apy (Is the state­ment true? Do you have ev­i­dence to prove it’s true? What would a bal­anced view look like?), but The Work goes far deeper. Not only does it ask you to con­sider how you be­have when you be­lieve your thoughts are true, the jewel in her method asks ‘Who would you be with­out that thought?’ Not how would you feel or what would you do, but who would you be?

It’s worth re­ally tak­ing time with this tech­nique as it has so many ben­e­fits, from un­der­stand­ing your needs to learn­ing how to hon­our and pro­tect your­self in the fu­ture. It teaches you to find and set your bound­aries and, ul­ti­mately, learn not to iden­tify with, or be de­fined by, some­one else’s per­cep­tion or treat­ment of you. In­stead of be­ing con­trolled by your mind, you’re in­quir­ing into what it holds, and meet­ing it — and your­self — with love.

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