In my latest book Redesign Your Mind I explain how you can not only change what you think but how you think. You can do this simply and elegantly by visualizing the room that is your mind and by engaging in some redesigning and redecorating. You’ll find that this is both effective and fun!
You’ve been indwelling in the room that is your mind forever, thinking the same thoughts, repeating the same opinions, remembering the same hurts. It’s time to throw open the windows and let a cleansing breeze blow through. That breeze is going to clear the air of worry and despair and clear your mind of all those thoughts that aren’t serving you.
In order to throw open those windows, you’ll first need to install them. Let’s visualize that right now. Shut your eyes. Picture your mindroom. If you can’t quite picture it, just picture it indistinctly. Its contours will become clearer as we proceed. For now, just “feel” it. Feel all its stuffiness, all its airlessness. Now, pick a wall and install a pair of windows. Choose any sorts of windows you like, looking out onto any sort of vista you like. What sort of windows will you choose? And what sort of vista?
My wife and I once rented a ground-floor apartment in Paris whose tall living room windows opened onto a lovely, quiet Parisian side street. Seated at the table by those windows, eating baguette and drinking wine, we watched the world go by. The windows installed in my mindroom are those tall French windows. What sort of windows would you like install? Windows looking down on Broadway, with jazz playing in the background? Old-fashioned windows with screens on them, looking out onto a lake? Exotic windows looking out at sand dunes and the sea beyond? Choose yours now.
Now, throw them wide open!
If your mindroom is like most mindrooms, it’s a stuffy place, a much-too-familiar place, and a troubling place. It’s full of secrets that we keep from others and secrets that we keep from ourselves. It’s full of intimations of our own mortality, whispers of insults not forgotten, strange, destructives urges, and ghosts of the distant past. It is anything but light and airy! Now, you get to transform that dark place into a space that is lighter and airier. With your windows thrown wide open, let all that mustiness blow away.
When you add windows to your mindroom, when you throw them open, and when you let a welcome breeze blow through, you immediately relax, reduce your anxiety, and provide a way for sadness to escape. You make life feel less stale, repetitive and oppressive, just like that. You can picture regrets and disappointments leaving and you can find peace without having to engage in soothing peace substitutes, liking endlessly surfing the Net or drinking too much alcohol. Everything changes for the better, just the way that life changes for the better when a cloud passes and the sun reappears.
The Buddha’s phrase “get a grip on your mind” suggests work. It is certainly work that cognitive therapists are suggesting when they ask you to engage in thought stopping, thought substituting, and so on. But adding windows and opening them wide is easy. It’s, well, a breeze! Please take a few moments and visualize your mindroom filled with cheery light and a gentle breeze. Just be there. There’s nothing to think and nothing to do. Just throw those windows open and let a breeze blow through.
When I throw open the windows in my mindroom, I receive amazing benefits. I feel more loving. I feel calmer. And I think more clearly. I’ve written fifty books and I know what writing books takes. It takes the opposite of claustrophobia. It takes airiness, a breeze, and a blue sky. It takes concentration, but while swinging in a hammock. It takes focus, but as in a sea gaze. To write well, I need the equivalent of the stillness of a summer afternoon with the sounds of bees buzzing and the air circulating. And I can have that! All I need to do is visit my mindroom and throw open the windows.
Let’s do some right thinking to go along with that new breeziness. Let’s support your intention to get rid of all that stuffiness by thinking some new thoughts that will serve you. Think one of your customary unhelpful thoughts, a thought like “I’m not very talented” or “I’ve wasted a lot of time in life” or “I’m feeling very sad.” At the same time, picture those open windows, feel a gentle breeze blow through, and exclaim, silently or out loud, “Breeze, take this thought away!” Watch the thought float right out the window. Follow it in your mind’s eye all the way to the sea and watch it evaporate in shafts of sunlight.
Can you even remember the thought that you were thinking? No! It floated off and it is gone—because you installed windows and because you gave it a way to exit. This is your new learning. You can always visit your mindroom, indwell there peacefully, and have the thoughts that aren’t serving you drift right out the windows that you’ve installed. Thinking about playing another video game? Visit your mindroom and let that craving drift off. Feeling sad? Visit your mindroom and let that feeling float away. Those windows are really a bit of miracle. They let everything you don’t need pass right out of your mindroom and dissolve in the ether.