Monday, August 28, 2006

Penny for Your Thoughts…

”Mind-Stuff Experiments.” That’s the title of Chapter Two of Claude Bristol’s “The Magic of Believing.” Mind-stuff, indeed! Couldn’t he have come up with a more technical term? I wondered with a smile.

Well, that really doesn’t matter. What does matter is the importance of thought. Centuries ago, Buddha said: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” Ponder that for a minute. What a responsibility it lays on us! Continues Bristol: “Your dominant thoughts determine your character, your career, your everyday life.” I ask you – and pardon the convoluted sound of this question – how many of us really think about what we THINK?

It’s not just our own thoughts that need to be guarded, but those of others, with respect to how they influence us. Bristol points out that “men of powerful dynamic thought have always swayed people by appealing to their minds – whether sometimes to lead them into freedom or into slavery.” (Adolf Hitler came immediately to my mind – how about yours?) Bristol continues by noting that we are bombarded daily by what we hear in conversation, on TV, on the radio and in movies, as well as what we read in books, newspapers and magazines, and, of course, on the Internet, which had not been invented in his day, but through the miracle of which you’re reading this blog. Some of these influences, he says, can lead us to better things, but too many are “upsetting or weakening.”

I have to agree, and I’m sure you can think of an example in your own life as well. Perhaps it’s watching too much hurricane coverage on TV, or reading about one too many murder cases in the newspaper. In particular, I recalled the words of Bethany Torode, a young and highly articulate Christian author, on the Boundless web site several years ago, when she was addressing responses to her recent article about why she and her husband had chosen not to own a TV:

"One of my friends who doesn’t own a TV commented that everyone she talked to on Sept. 11 who had watched the events on television was frightened, depressed, shaken and irrational. Those who hadn’t — who had simply heard about it from others — were much more calm, thoughtful, and sober."

Neither Bethany nor I advocate hiding our heads in the sand when it comes to being aware of current events, but her point, especially when taken in the larger context of the complete article (see, should be clear. Sometimes we could use a fast from the media, or at least a diet!

Bristol then makes another provocative statement: that hard work alone will not bring success. Most Americans are familiar with the term “Puritan work ethic” (also known as the “Protestant work ethic”) that supposedly defines our cultural heritage. How many times have we said of someone, “He worked hard for what he got”? And certainly, in most cases “he” or “she” did. But, says Bristol, something else was required: “[C]reative thinking and firm belief in your ability to execute your ideas.” Successful people in history, he says, “have succeeded through their thinking. Their hands were merely helpers to their brains.” (I love that image!)

As I read on, I began to hear echoes of previous blog entries on that precious commodity I continue to struggle with – desire. Bristol states, as have others, that our desire must be “all-obsessing,” that our energy must be concentrated and applied without letup, to achieve success – in whatever way we define that term. To achieve our objective, we must be willing to make it “the burning desire of [our] life.”

By this time I found myself mentally saying to the long-deceased author, “Amen! Preach it, brother!” But I wasn’t saying it with the enthusiasm of a congregation answering back to the minister. Rather, it was with a sense of chagrin as I recognized myself in these words:

“Most people have a general desire to succeed, but beyond that, everything is indefinite. They merely go along from day to day, figuring that if they have a job today, they will have it tomorrow – and that somehow, they will be looked after in their old age. They are like corks floating aimlessly on the water, drawn this way and that by various currents, either washing up on shore or becoming water-logged and eventually sinking.”

Ee-yowww. Amen, brother, indeed! That one hit a little too close to home.

But let’s get back to the power of thought. For centuries, some have claimed that humans can actually shape events and control matter through their minds alone. Many flatly deny such a possibility; others, me included, are skeptical but still open-minded. After all, as Bristol points out, if radio waves can pass through such solid objects as wood and steel, why can’t thought waves, “if tuned to even higher oscillations,” affect the molecules of solid objects?

Okay, Claude, I thought, you’ve got my attention. I won’t deny the possibility – especially when he goes on to cite various experiments that bear him out, which I won’t go into here in the interest of space. What really struck me was his personal theory – “that [thoughts] create only according to their pitch, intensity, emotional quality, depth of feeling, or vibratory plane. In other words, thoughts have a creative or controlling force in the exact ratio of their constancy, intensity, and power – comparable to the wavelength and wattage of a broadcasting station.”

Wow! If true, doesn’t that give you a sense of power? As well as responsibility?

I again had a recollection, as I read those words. I can’t recall the source now, but the speaker or author claimed to have had a vision of prayer requests on their ascent to heaven. Intriguingly, those petitions accompanied by a strong faith “shot straight up” to the throne of God, while those sent with less belief were weak and wobbly and took longer to reach their destination. Bristol, who does not appear to have been a religious man, seems to echo this when he says, “After studying the so-called mystic teachings, the various mental sciences, and the regular church teachings, I am convinced that they all work in varying degrees, but only to the extent that their followers believe. So it is with prayer, whether it be part of a church service or the purely spontaneous and personal supplication of the individual.”

* * * * *

Where does that leave us? We now have some sense of the sheer power of thoughts – not just our own, but those of others. We’ve been told how important an asset belief is to those thoughts. So now it’s time…to believe.

What do you need to believe for? More money, a better body, better health? As I mentioned briefly last week, my most immediate need is for a new job. And I know now that I have to guard my negative thoughts regarding past “failures” more closely than ever – as the old Johnny Mercer tune says, I have to “Accentuate the positive.” That means focusing on my strengths rather than my weaknesses (although those must never be ignored), and taking time to visualize – with faith! – positive outcomes to my search, rather than letting myself get bogged down by financial fears or wondering if I’ll experience another layoff. So that’s what I’ll be focusing on this week. And I’ll keep you posted as to the results!

* * * * *

Readers Write! I’ve had two interesting responses to last week's post from Anonymous treaders this week. Anonymous #1 writes:

“…[R]eceiving will be undermined by self-destructive sabotaging somewhere soon after if we don't really deep down believe with all our being that we deserve to receive--to be loved--to be healthy and thin--to be all we were born to be.”

Can’t argue with that, A. Believe and receive! He or she goes on to ask:

“How much have you lost so far? How are you really feeling since you started this journey? Healthier? Has your pant size gone down? Are you feeling firmer? How about your energy level? You've passed along lots of wise information but left out how Lucie is really doing. What's working for you and how? Tell us about your results."

You asked for it, you got it, A. The truth is that while Big Bertha (see post of May 29, 2006) seems slightly less poofy since I left my job and consequently (if surprisingly) am eating a little less, especially of fast food, and while my jeans were a little less hard to fasten this week, I haven’t started a new exercise program since I finished The Shaolin Workout described in three recent posts. Sometimes I walk in the evening, sometimes I don’t. Some days I’m good about drinking a lot of water, sometimes I prefer tea or diet Coke. My energy level still varies from day to day, largely depending on my mood, which, of course, largely depends on my thoughts! But this week I’m going back to basics with one of my previously listed “Tools of the Trade” – Alan Gordon’s “Get Fit: Flexibility.” While I have great respect for the routines put out by such fitness gurus as Matt Furey and Ed Baran, both of whose products I own, the fact is that at the moment much of the exercises are too advanced for me, which leads naturally to frustration and discouragement. I’m hoping that Gordon’s book will help me develop some much-needed flexibility with its positions that look to be more my speed. I’ll let you know next week. I’m also studying Maxwell Maltz’s “Psycho-Cybernetics: Zero Resistance Living,” as well as, obviously, Claude Bristol’s “The Magic of Believing,” so while I may be hardly any less overweight, I am feeling mentally stronger! And increased mental strength will hopefully lead to increased physical strength down the road. Thanks for asking, A. – it helps me remember to stay accountable – and please keep reading and responding!

Anonymous #2 had this to say:

“I've been so on the edge of committing to really doing it [shedding weight] myself. I'm a well read person – lots of expert info stored in this noggin. Waiting for what? The right day? The right magic formula? I really think I just need to do it – not in my head but in a way that holds me accountable. I've always been very competitive, so is anyone out there up for the challenge? I weigh in at an all time high of 212 and a half pounds – there, I said it! Today is the day. I will check in regularly with my progress!”

A2, thank you for your thoughts and also for your courage in sharing something so personal…something I haven’t been able to bring myself to do yet after about three months of blogging! Please do keep us apprised of your progress so we can cheer you on. And it sounds like you’re throwing down a gauntlet. Does anyone out there want to pick it up?

* * * * *

I don’t have a decadent recipe to share with you this week, but a movie plug. Yesterday I went to see Oliver Stone’s new film, “World Trade Center,” and highly recommend it. While a couple of friends have told me they’re not sure they’re ready to relive that terrible event, and I’ll admit that there were a few moments at the beginning that had me cringing as well, I appreciated Stone’s subtlety in handling such a tender subject, and his lack of political axe-grinding in favor of focusing on individual stories. The acting is excellent and the overall effect deeply moving. Check it out – you won’t be sorry.

I’ll be back next week – hope you will too! In the meantime…Keep on Treading!


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