“I don’t need to claim these thoughts!”

“Stand porter at the door of thought.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

I was in a funk today. There’s been another Christmas tragedy. Don’t want to talk about that, really. But it led me to some dark places in my thoughts. I stopped by to see Dad, hoping that would cheer me up. But he was struggling – questioning the veracity of a Christmas card I brought him from a friend, saying it seemed “fishy” – questionable – and he didn’t trust it. He argued with me about the background in a photograph – insisted it was a stadium with bleachers – which… it wasn’t. I told him I loved him, and he told me he loved me, and I left.

As I was driving home dark thoughts came knocking on the door of my consciousness – thoughts of despair and discouragement and fear for the future. Thoughts about death. And I felt afraid and guilty that I was even having these thoughts. And then I had this moment of clarity: “But I don’t need to claim these thoughts as mine! Just because these thoughts knocked on my door doesn’t mean they belong to me! They aren’t any part of me!” I realized I could choose whether I wanted to let those thoughts enter and be part of my identity, or not.

A decade ago, when I was going through a massive depression, I felt I didn’t have a choice – I felt I didn’t have control over the thoughts that came into my head, and the feelings of despair and hopelessness and guilt – and it all seemed overwhelming at times. But I acquired some tools for dealing with life’s challenges and struggles during that time. First, I learned not to fight my feelings – that only seemed to make the feelings bigger – but to let myself surf on top of them. I learned I could be happy even when I was sad.  And I learned a trick from Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now that was really helpful, too – and that I was reminded of today. In his book, Tolle writes: “Try a little experiment. Close your eyes and say to yourself: ‘I wonder what my next thought is going to be.’ Then become very alert and wait for the next thought. Be like a cat watching a mouse hole. What thought is going to come out of the mouse hole? Try it now.” When I tried that experiment all those years ago (and when I tried it just now, too) – when I waited for my next thought – it didn’t come! I was filled with a blessed, peaceful stillness.

I had a healing today. And it felt like this…
healing

 

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Passing Thoughts

Passing Thoughts

Lingering, flitting, wispy, clear –
thoughts passing through me today:
Aunt Junie’s laugh filled my mental ears
and my heart filled with love when I
remembered her support through the dark years;
Then my thoughts turned to a man
I once thought a terrible trial  –
I saw him last week as I sat in the bank
and he came up to me and smiled
and I smiled back and we
made small talk for awhile, 
and I felt nothing – not anger, nor tension –
and I was kind of surprised by that.
I guess Life has moved me past
the past, and the love has stayed,
but the bad didn’t last.

– Karen Molenaar Terrell

 

 

The Anger Pandemic and Its Antidote

Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts.”
– Mary Baker Eddy

I just watched a great video on YouTube (“This Video Will Make You Angry”) about the epidemic spread of anger thought-germs on the internet. This video got my “brain” sparking in all kinds of directions: I thought about some of the internet “conversations” I’ve gotten myself involved in the last several years; took a look at how internet dialogues have changed since I first began participating in them seven or eight years ago; compared some of the thoughts shared in the video with thoughts shared by Mary Baker Eddy back in the late 1800’s – long before the invention of the internet, but, I think, still pertinent today; and began looking around me for some good news – signs of hope and salvation from the anger pandemic that seems to be infecting the globe.

In the video, the narrator tells us: “Anger by-passes your mental immune system…The internet is the best thing to happen to thought-germs…The more they (anger-germs)  are shared they under-go the same process (as biological germs), changing and distorting to become more aggravating. These have a better chance of spreading than their possibly more accurate rivals.”

– Ohmygosh! I’m guessing we can all recognize the truth of those words! According to this video there are two emotions that are highly contagious to humans – anger and awe. Anger and awe are almost irresistible. When anger or awe go hopping by us we are like the dog in Up! and…squirrel!  – we have to look, right?

The narrator in the video continues: “Once everyone agrees (on something), it’s hard to keep talking (about it)… but if there’s an opposing thought-germ then the thinking doesn’t have to stop. The more visible an argument gets, the more by-standers it draws in – which makes it more visible. These thought germs aren’t competing, they’re cooperating… working together they reach more brains… Thought-germs on opposite sides of an argument can be symbiotic… its divisiveness also  grows its symbiotic partner… gaining more allies also gains more enemies… Though the participants think they’re involved in a fiery battle to the death, from the anger germ’s perspective one field is a field of flowers and the other a flock of butterflies… ”

– I suppose most of us would now agree that the earth is roundish. Can you remember the last time you got in an in-depth conversation about the roundishness of the planet? No, right? We don’t generally talk about stuff we all acknowledge as true. But I can guarantee that if there suddenly appeared a large group of people – not outliers, but a mainstream group – that rose up and declared the earth was flat, there’d be a hot fiery debate about it all over Facebook. Flat-earthers would be calling round-earthers arrogant and smug, round-earthers would be calling flat-earthers ignorant and stoopid, and the oblate-spheroid-earthers would be denouncing everyone but themselves as unrealistic fuzzy thinkers.

The narrator continues: “When opposing groups get big they don’t really argue with each other, they mostly argue with themselves about how angry the other group makes them… We can actually graph fights on the internet to see this in action – each becomes its own quasi-isolated internet – sharing thoughts about the other…each group breeds thought-germs about the other…the group almost can’t help but construct a totem of the other so enraging they’ll talk about it all the time…”

– And don’t we see this in politics ALL THE TIME?!! Republicans are this. Democrats are that. Socialists are the other. And don’t even get me started on the Libertarians. 🙂  We take a certain pride in our alliances and our loyalty to our team. And we insulate ourselves from other perspectives and hang out with our own group. We lump everyone who belongs to another group into one monolithic unit – no longer seeing individuals – and rant about the short-comings of everyone who isn’t “us.” In short, we become bigots.

The narrator ends the video with these thoughts: “It’s useful to be aware of how thoughts can use our emotions to spread… If you want to maintain a healthy brain it pays to be cautious of thoughts that have passed through a lot of brains… it’s your brain – be hygienic with it.”  

– And this brings me to the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. In her Miscellaneous Writings, Eddy writes: “Beloved Christian Scientists, keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them. It is plain that nothing can be added to the mind already full. There is no door through which evil can enter, and no space for evil to fill in a mind filled with goodness. Good thoughts are an impervious armor; clad therewith you are completely shielded from the attacks of error of every sort. And not only yourselves are safe, but all whom your thoughts rest upon are thereby benefited.”

And in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Eddy writes: “The weapons of bigotry, ignorance, envy, fall before an honest heart.”

I have found this to be true. 🙂

 “We should remember that the world is wide; that there are a thousand million different human wills, opinions, ambitions, tastes, and loves; that each person has a different history, constitution, culture, character, from all the rest; that human life is the work, the play, the ceaseless action and reaction upon each other of these different atoms. Then, we should go forth into life with the smallest expectations, but with the largest patience; with a keen relish for and appreciation of everything beautiful, great, and good, but with a temper so genial that the friction of the world shall not wear upon our sensibilities; with an equanimity so settled that no passing breath nor accidental disturbance shall agitate or ruffle it; with a charity broad enough to cover the whole world’s evil, and sweet enough to neutralize what is bitter in it, – determined not to be offended when no wrong is meant, nor even when it is…” – Mary Baker Eddy

Whatsoever things are lovely…

love joy hope

photos by Karen Molenaar Terrell

” …keep your minds so filled with Truth and Love, that sin, disease, and death cannot enter them.” – Mary Baker Eddy