In Sakyong Mipham’s book, Turning the Mind Into an Ally, he likens training the human brain to taming a wild horse. Since the average person has between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts a day, it’s no wonder we can sometimes feel as if our minds are under attack, especially when negative thoughts raid the shores of our consciousness. Similar to a cowboy riding a bucking bronco, imagine every kick of the horse’s powerful legs as an equally powerful thought invading the halls of your awareness, nonstop, basically forever.
When the Mind Attacks!
As a stroke survivor, I have experienced this form of mental agony in a way that only a small percentage of the population has. Other than the physical side effect of losing sight on my right peripheral, there were other psychological issues that began to wreak havoc on my mental fortitude as well. At the time of the stroke, I was working in finance in New York City and after returning to work only a couple short weeks post-stroke, I found it incredibly difficult to perform tasks that I was once able to handle with ease.
I found myself thinking crazy thoughts that held no merit whatsoever! At one point I thought that I would be living on the streets because I wouldn’t be able to hold down a job and that no one would want to be around me because I was now mentally challenged and that I should just kill myself so that I wouldn’t be a burden on anyone. Looking back on it now, I’m able to laugh at the absurdity of these beliefs, but at the time they were very real. Truly at this dark corner of my life, my mind had become the greatest adversary I have ever encountered. The details of this story can be found here: CE Article: I Was Living The “American Dream” Then Had A Stroke At Age 30 & It Turned My Life Around
Long story short, I searched for and found a way to regain control of my thoughts so that I could live out the rest of my days in the driver seat of my own life. So much time I had wasted worrying and stressing out about the possibility of worst-case scenario outcomes instead of working to reclaim my power and my rightful position as the architect of my own future.
Insight from Masters of the Mind
Penor Rinpoche once told Sakyong Mipham “Life is more difficult if you worry. It’s better to deal with things as they come up.” This was one of the great lessons for me in Turning the Mind Into an Ally. Spending time dwelling on what MAY be instead of working to create what WILL be is just ridiculous to me now.
For those looking to assist others in developing their minds so that they can work in their favor, think about it as riding a horse.
“We don’t tame such a strong majestic creature by beating the spirit out of it. Instead, we work with its raw power and turn that energy in a certain direction.” ~ Sakyong Mipham
What if we all worked together to offer a helping hand to those in need instead of imposing our will and unwarranted personal beliefs on them? How would our planet change? Perhaps this could turn karma to our favor one day when the timing is right.
“When we live life in service to ourselves, our life force naturally diminishes. Until all beings achieve the level of a Buddha, I hope to be courageous in working for the happiness of others. This expresses the motivation of the Bodhisattva warrior, one who vows to develop his enlightened mind in order to help others. Generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation and wisdom keep turning our mind to enlightenment like a flower seeking sunlight.” ~ Sakyong Mipham
Make Your Mind A Powerful Ally
In this world moving forward with technological advances at an exponential rate, we too must work harder than ever to evolve at a soul-deep level. We humans are good by nature. The instinct to help each other is hardwired in our DNA, but an injured person cannot help another injured person. For those who want to help others, you must first help yourself, and to help yourself, there’s no better place to start than with your mind!
“The mind can be a powerful ally or your greatest enemy.” ~ Katara, Avatar: The Last Air Bender.