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July 6th, 2019
A panic room is a concealed and secure room that exists within a house. It is a way to safely hide when leaving the house is not possible.
Now, if we think of the mind in these terms, it’s easy to see that the mind is a house that we can never leave. We are trapped in our own mind, along with all manner of terrible things we might imagine in order to torture ourselves.
But, as with something like meditation. The effect is akin to building a panic room within the mind. An ability to call into being a state of mindfulness creates the bizarre effect of being shielded from one’s own mind.
As John Milton once famously wrote: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
Which is to say, when our thoughts and emotions turn of the worse, we are trapped in our own mind with that reality. Like being trapped in a house with burglars, villains or monsters.
Take anger for instance. The experience is overwhelming. The anger arises and swells in the mind with an intoxication that is not dissimilar to being drunk. But the act of becoming mindful during such a situation is like existing somehow outside of the mind in a way that allows a person to look around make a fairly calm observation and assessment of the situation, such as “wow, there’s quite a bit of anger going on right now.”
It’s like watching a robber wreck part of the house on a monitor from inside of a panic room.
Even more powerful is that ability to shield one’s self from the personal monsters that we ourselves create. Imagine, for a moment being able to hide and calmly watch those monsters that we ourselves dream up? Imagine if it were impossible for those monsters to harm you anymore.
This is the panic room of the mind that a practice like mindfulness can create.
With enough practice, equanimity can be applied to anything, even to the terrible things that might exist in our own minds, that we mistakenly think are integral to who and what we are.
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