By Upendra Mishra
BOSTON—Indian scriptures are amazing treasures of wisdom. I often wonder what was going on in the minds of those Indian sages thousands of years ago? How were they able to question fundamentals of life and come up with precise answers?
One of my favorites is from Manu Samhita: “He who has not conquered himself, how will that king conquer enemies.” Then comes Buddha, who said: “A man who conquers himself is greater than one who conquers a thousand men in battle.”
There are also some simple things the Indian sages advised us to make us happy and enjoy this wonderful life. They taught us that the 10 things are a must for a good life: contentment, forgiveness, self-control, not stealing, purification, mastery of sensory powers, wisdom, truthfulness, abstention from anger, and learning or knowledge.
I personally think that of all the above mentioned 10 points, the self-control is the key. Once we develop skills to control ourselves, we can conquer almost everything else. But how can we conquer ourselves?
Dr. Alan Watkins, an honorary senior lecturer in Neuroscience and Psychological Medicine at Imperial College in London, says that our thoughts are the first place to start. But changing our thinking is not easy. In order to change thinking, we have to change our feelings. But again changing feeling is difficult. To change our feelings, we have to change our emotions. But emotions are not a switch that we can turn on and off. To change emotions, we have to change our physiology by mediation, exercise, keeping negative people out and focusing on our passion and compassion. After constantly practicing the above steps, we start to get a grip on controlling our thoughts.
Once we are able to control our thoughts, the magic starts to happen in our life. It stops us from making reactive to everything from outside; we become calm and composed; we chose our own path and march in that direction with full confidence; we don’t seek opinions and validations from outside; we gather strength to say “no” to things we don’t like and don’t want to do. In other words: we start living our life, its every moment right now.
Recently I came across writing of Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, a spinal and orthopedic surgeon specializing in cervical, thoracic and lumbar procedures. His advice: One Thought or a Random Act of Kindness. He believes that we can radically transform our worlds, one thought at a time. This concept is excerpted from his book: “Keys to an Amazing Life: Secrets of the Cervical Spine.”
Here is the summary of this theory:
“With a positive thought or with a random act of kindness: the brain is calm, the body moves into a rest and digest mode, there are fewer “pressors” (chemicals e.g. epinephrine, that raise the blood pressure), the heart feels good, the body relaxes and takes breaths deep into the lungs, the intestines work on digestion more efficiently, libido is increased, muscles loosen and are more mobile, the arteries don’t experience an excessive amount of pressor, creating a normotensive state (having normal blood pressure), there are less inflammatory factors in your blood stream, the pancreas and thyroid function optimally, the immune system peaks, helping to ward off infection, inflammation decreases, increasing body resting and functioning and there is decreased tenderness and discomfort due to spinal problems.
“With negative or painful thought: the brain is in turmoil, the body moves into fight or flight mode, there are more pressors, the heart develops an irregular rate and rhythm, stress increases and shallow breaths are taken into the lungs, digestion slows in the intestines and ulcers may develop from stress, reproductive hormones are affected and libido is decreased, muscles tighten and become more tender, the arteries experience excessive pressors, increasing the chance of hypertension, inflammatory factors in the blood stream increase, and irritability increases, the pancreas and thyroid do not function optimally, increasing blood sugar levels and thyroid hormone output to become dysfunctional, the immune system weakens, increasing risk of infection and there is a greater chance of tenderness and discomfort due to spinal problems.”
Coming back to thought, we assume that we cannot control our thoughts and that we thought just keep happening in our mind. That is totally wrong. We have one hundred percent control on our thoughts. It just requires practice and will a sincere will to control one’s thoughts.
“Most people I have spoken to have no idea that they have the power to control every single thought they think every second of every minute of every day,” says Robin Sharma in his book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. “They believe that thoughts just happen and have never realized that if you don’t take the time to start controlling your thoughts, they will control you. When you start to focus on good thought only refuse to think the bad ones through sheer willpower, I promise you they will shrivel up very quickly…When you control your thought, you control your mind. When you control your mind, you control your life, and once you reach the stage of being in total control of your life, you become the master of your destiny.”
Buddha said it beautifully: “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”
When talk about the power of thoughts, we should also mention President Donald Trump. We may disagree with his policies, character or so many other things, but we must give him credit for becoming the president of the world’s most powerful nation: United States. I am sure even he may be astonished to think that he is the president of the United States today. How did he reach there?
His mind set may have played an important role in his ascendance to power. In his book “Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life” with Bill Zanker, he writes about the power of thought.
“Most people are afraid to think big. They just can’t do it. Why? Because they cannot imagine themselves doing big things; they do not have the knowledge, experience, or track record. They have none of the trappings that a successful big-thinking person has. When it comes to thinking big, you are your own worst enemy,” says Trump. “Anyone can think big. The most important thing is the size of your thinking. How big you think determines how big a success you become. Everything else is secondary.”
(Mr. Mishra is managing partner of the Waltham, MA-based integrated inbound marketing and PR firm The Mishra Group. He writes about his three passions: marketing, scriptures and gardening.)