By now, you realize that practice is so much more than just mindless robotic exercise designed to get you into shape. It increases focus and concentration, and helps you to strengthen your body and mind. Since your mind is your most powerful personal asset, this lesson will cover the power of thought.
A powerful mind leads to ultimate success
Hundreds of thousands of thoughts pass through our mind in any given day. Some are so fleeting that they barely manifest, while others, we dwell on or come back to over and over again. These uncontrolled thoughts, along with limiting behaviours and bad habits, can keep us from reaching our greatest success. High achieving individuals almost always share certain common characteristics, which help them succeed. One of their most important distinctions is an acute ability to concentrate and focus their minds. They are able to dwell on one idea for extended periods of time without interruption. Interruptions are primarily caused by unwelcome thoughts or distracting thoughts. The value of training our minds, as well as our bodies is clear. By learning to intensely focus and concentrate without interruption, you will accomplish much more in your life.
What you can conceive and believe, you can achieve
Thought is energy
The first step towards success is to determine the direction you want to go, or the desire you want to fulfil. Then, you must begin to work towards that goal. How do you do that? In Eastern philosophy, one of the accepted universal truths that thought is energy. Some Western scientists have coined the term, “mindstuff” to describe the relationship between energy and thought. Simply put, the longer and more frequently you dwell on a particular thought or idea with deep concentration, the faster it will manifest in your life.
If you think you can, you are right.If you think you can’t, you are right.
This principle holds true for habits and personality traits as well as for material desires, positions and relationships. What you can conceive and believe, you can achieve. The obstacle here is that you must truly BELIEVE it. Remember, thought is never wrong. If you think you can, you are right. If you think that you can’t, you are right. Successful people not only believe they can, they develop constructive habits that support their beliefs.
The power is all yours
In essence, we are our thoughts and actions. Everything begins with a thought. To fulfil our desire, we must act on our thoughts. Repeating an action becomes a behaviour, and through constant repetition, the behaviour becomes a habit. This formula applies to good thoughts, behaviours and habits, as well as bad thoughts, behaviours and habits. Problems arise when individuals get so attached to a habit that it becomes an addiction. Developing positive habits is a good idea. But, there is no such thing as a good addiction.
Take care to build excellent thoughts, behaviours and habits for your life. Once constructed, these habit patterns can be very difficult to change. If you are living with habits and tendencies that you wish to change, remember that you created them. Therefore you have the power to get rid of them. Begin by concentrating deeply on the thought that is the opposite of your negative habit. The deeper and more frequently you think of the opposing positive thought, the less energy goes to the negative habit.
Change your thoughts, change your life
For example, if you feel that you are a lazy, low energy person who is out of shape, you begin to manifest the behaviours that support your vision of yourself. You might spend your nights lying on the sofa, watching TV, and eating junk food, until bedtime. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy that stems from how you see yourself. Change your thoughts of who you are, and how you want to live. And your behaviours will begin to change. In this case, see yourself as an energetic person who enjoys working out. Create a picture of yourself thinner, and happier, and healthier. Tell yourself that food is fuel for your body and the better the fuel, the better you feel. Through conscious and continuous effort these new thoughts will become behaviours eventually growing into healthy habits.
“Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.”
Banish the darkness
Bad habits and addictions are sometimes overwhelming. We often blame life, or ourselves, or even God for the frustrating problems, which surround us. We become like a man in a dark room, trying to beat the darkness out with a stick. No matter how desperately we strike at the darkness, this method will not work. Making a small effort by giving a little positive energy to ingrained habits won’t make them go away. The only way to banish the darkness is by turning on the light. With prolonged concentrated effort, positive thoughts and habits eventually push out the unwelcome guest who has become the master.
It is not what you are that holds you back. It is being identified with what you are not.
Our thoughts hold extreme power. In fact, in this moment, you are the sum total of your behaviours, responses and thoughts in your life thus far. Each time you latched onto thoughts, ignored thoughts, created thoughts, acted or behaved without thinking…in each and every moment you were forming your current self-image. So determine right now whether you want to change your life or just continue on. Your future resides in your thoughts from this moment on. Be ultimately aware, giving time and attention only to those thoughts you consciously choose to develop.
Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.
Once there was an old, very wise Native American Indian chief with two dogs. One was black and one was white. A young brave asked, “Sir, tell me about your dogs.” The chief answered,” One of them symbolizes all of my bad thoughts and behaviours, and one symbolizes all of my good thoughts and behaviours. Every day, every single day, they fight. No matter which dog won or lost the day before, they start fresh in battle again the next day.” The little brave then asked, “Which one usually wins?” The chief answered, “Which ever one that I feed the most.”
Design Your Life
Most people never take the time to think about how they want to live or what they want out of life. Day to day responsibilities bog them down and just trying to keep up with everything leaves little room for imagination and planning. Day after day turns into week after week; then month after month, turns into year after year. Reaching the end of their lives, most people have many regrets. Believing that they would have had more time, death takes them by surprise.
“The quieter you become the more you can hear.”
–Baba Ram Dass
One of the strategies to help you live a full and satisfying life is to take the time to design your life. Take some time and think about the direction you wish to go. Write down what you want out of life. Using a five-year block of time, begin with the end in mind.
- In five years where do you want to be? Who do you want to be with, and what do you want to be doing? Be as specific as possible, encompassing areas of your life such as relationships, career, children, salary and savings, relocation, education, hobbies and activities, and any other areas that you see fit.
- After documenting your five-year plan, begin to break it down and ask the question, “ What do I need to do in four years to achieve this? And then three years, two years, and one year? Eventually break it down to month to month.
At the end of this process you should have a step-by-step plan, written down for each category. Be as specific as possible and do not become overwhelmed with the assignment. Just remember the adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
“If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you have done it.”
Don’t get caught in the trap of saying, “ I don’t know what I want,” and putting the assignment off. This is your life. You are the one living it. You are the one who gets to decide the direction of it. Choose to use both your heart and your head. Remember, what you write down is not set in stone. You are the author. You have the power to change your goals at any time. Just in completing this assignment, you dramatically increase your chances of living the kind of life you want. As you can see, this is vital. Do it now!
Once you have your life completely designed in as much detail as possible, the next crucial step is to make yourself accountable. Sharing your desires with three or four people you trust will help you stay committed. Finally, write your monthly goals out simply and clearly and place them in a prominent place at home or work. Review them monthly to check on your progress. Remember, constant repetition of desired behaviour will lead to your success.
“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sensei Matt, Shudokan Black Belt Academy – Aikido Nottingham