evolution of the mind

is thinking more a good thing?

When I was in grade 2, I had a teacher named Ms. Madagin.

One day, as she was drawing on a flipchart, I began chattering away to the kid beside me. Upon hearing my whispers, she abruptly turned, told me to stop talking and then threatened to tape my mouth shut if I couldn't contain my thoughts.

Thinking she had unnecessarily escalated to anger, I mused that her name accurately and ironically reflected her frequent state of mind; she was after all "Mad - Again."

Suffice to say, I didn't give the incident much more mental energy other than to acknowledge that Ms. Madagin was prone to fits of frustration and anger that seemed more to do with her than with the behavior of her students.

When I was in Grade 9, my best friend and I decided to enter the School's talent show.

We decided to recreate a dancing routine to the song "I got no strings" from the Disney movie Pinocchio.

I recall having a blast creating and practicing our routine day after day.

No other thoughts or doubts or concerns or considerations entered my mind.

We were simply basking in the flow of fun and creativity.

The night of our performance, however, standing onstage prepared to launch myself off of a coat rack and into our routine, I experienced more than a few concerns about our choice of talents.

What had we been thinking?!?!?

Whatever it was...or wasn't...I was more than making up for it as I stood there on stage that night.

In fact, my mind was spinning so fast that my legs began to shake, my stomach began to lurch and my body broke out into a cold sweat with every added thought and feeling.

I was experiencing a full-on virtual living hell...and the curtain hadn't even raised to reveal our tableau.

When I was in first year of University, one of my classes was held in a huge lecture hall.

One day our professor didn't show up.

After about 10 minutes, kids began to leave...including me.

Walking through the halls of the building, I passed by the 'missing' professor's office.

Low and behold, she was there...just hanging up the phone.

She caught my eye and like a deer in headlights, I froze...agonizing over whether or not I should say something about her absence from class.

I quickly reasoned that since it was already too late to resume class and that the phone call may have involved some issue that had caused her to forget class, I shouldn't say anything about it at all.

Instead, I asked her a question related to something we had been learning and then returned to the lecture hall where my next class was to begin in 20 minutes.

Deep in thought about the 'correctness' of my earlier decision to stay 'mum,' the doors suddenly flew open to reveal our previously wayward professor.

Frantically looking around at the spattering of kids who remained, her eyes suddenly fixed on me.

To my utter horror, she proceeded to berate me, in a thinly veiled voice of disgust, for failing to inform her earlier that she was late for class.

I felt humiliated, embarrassed, ashamed and angry.

Suffice to say, I had a LOT of thinking in that moment...and for many moments thereafter.

What amazes me, upon reflection of these three incidents, is the degree to which my thinking played an increasing role in each of my experiences.

In the first incident, my thinking very quickly came and went.

My thoughts, and hence my feelings dissipated rather efficiently and I returned to my normal state of well-being without fuss or muss.

In the second incident, my thinking and hence my feelings played a more prominent role.

My thoughts on stage compounded creating a rather painful yet still relatively temporary emotional experience.

In the third incident, my thinking became overwhelmingly dense and sticky.

I couldn't seem to brush the incident off and I attributed my feelings to my circumstances 100%.

I replayed the experience over and over again...each time adding new and painful thought and and each time experiencing the same and sometimes more intense emotional pain.

By grade 9,  I had forgotten the ease with which that little girl in grade 2 had shifted her thoughts and thereby her state of mind.

By grade 9, I had unwittingly begun a pattern of resistance.

In so doing,

I began to increasingly take my thoughts seriously and personally.

I began to attribute my feelings to my circumstances 100%.

I began to out-think my feelings with more thought...which only compounded the situation.

My evolution was unwittingly complete; I had moved from empowered and free to overburdened and imprisoned.

And yet, it is no wonder...

In a world which purports an outside-in perspective, we have innocently overlooked the most fundamental of principles: life is experienced inside-out through the feeling of our thought.

I now understand where my experience of life comes from...most days.

I am not at the mercy of my circumstances.

I am not at the mercy of my thoughts.

My mind has an innate ability to return to a state of well-being over and over again, if left to its own devices.

And when I return to this state, I can see that little girl from grade 2 shake her head with a sly smile and say, "welcome home."

Lana Bastianutti