Tag Archives: thoughts

You are not your thoughts


As a parent I was quite shocked with the news of record teenage suicide numbers in one region in Victoria recently. How good are we as a society in looking after each other’s mental health in a satisfactory manner?

Many people feel depressed and think this is a permanent state and feel there is no way out, especially for those who experience strong negative emotions for the first time. Many people believe it is genetic and this makes them feel even powerless towards their strong self-denigrating thoughts. However from the meditation point of view most mental disorders arise from the mind.

Dr. Bruce Lipton in his eye opener best seller “The biology of belief” explains how our thoughts affect our body chemistry for better or for worse. He also shows how our thoughts activate or de-activate genes concluding that genetics does not determine who we are. He spent more than 20 years studying and teaching developmental and cellular biology to arrive to these conclusions.

Neuroscientists are also arriving at similar results on how the mind works. One of the greatest discoveries of neuroscience in the last decade is neuroplasticity: the ability the neural-network in the brain has to change in response to experience and training. This ‘re-wiring’ of the brain has been shown possible and has helped many people with chronic depression, anxiety and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) to not only find respite, but to cure themselves using mindfulness meditation.

Although many people think that meditation is some practice of reaching blissful states, which appears to be totally self-indulgent, that’s far from the truth.

Meditation is a practice of learning how to observe the world for what it is without the influence of our perceptions, or coloured glass lenses. And that includes observing our own habitual responses to what is happening around us. By doing that we learn that we can cultivate better inner qualities, such as unconditional compassion, openness to others, and inner peace, letting go of our mental negative addictive patterns. But to let go of these negative patterns we first need to be open and brave to come face to face with them. That takes a lot of courage.

One of the most difficult things to let go of when first coming to meditation is the thinking. Many people feel that if they let go of their thinking they would feel helpless. This is because we have identified ourselves so much with our thoughts and our ideas of who we are, and what the world is, that the feeling of letting go of that for a couple of minutes is one of fear or terror. And here we go back to an important question ‘who am I?’ and little by little we find out that we are not our thoughts.

Behind our obsessive thinking, however, there is just openness. By experiencing this openness in mindfulness we can find great relief, ‘we can start to taste enlightenment’, as Jack Kornfield writes.

This is very much in line with ancient Buddhist teachings of mind-training. Happiness can only be found through rigorous mind-training. Through those experiences we become present to our attachments to material and mental objects and we practice letting go of them. Little by little we feel lighter, being right becomes less and less important, and we start experiencing moments of true joy more often. And the inner peace that one finds, that joy and contentment, becomes a gift that is naturally shared with others.

Although mindfulness meditation is being used medically and psychologically with great success in depression, anxiety, anger, OCD and other addictive negative mind traits, its potential goes much further leading towards finding true inner peace and unconditional joy and happiness. The question is how far down the rabbit hole is one prepared to go?

Matthieu Ricard said : ’We should understand that mental health is not simply the absence of mental illness. Often we find ourselves in the pangs of torment from mental toxins such as hatred, obsessive desire, arrogance, nagging jealousy. Those are certainly not optimal ways of relating to our own experience or to others. We know we can experience genuine altruistic love and compassion, but couldn’t we do so more often, so that those states of mind become the normal way we relate to others? Hence the ideal of long-term transformation: becoming a better human being for one’s own well-being and that of others as well. These two go together.” (extract from ‘The mind’s own physician’, edited by Jon Kabat-Zinn).

with love,




38. Kuei- Opposition (Fire over Lake)

Misunderstanding truth creates opposition.

There are many occasions in life which tempt us into negative thoughts. Anxiety about the future, mistrust of another person, bodily pain, fear of failure or even success – all of these tempt us to mistrusting life and thinking that life is against us. When we fall into this trap, we are in opposition to the workings of the Creative and success becomes impossible.

The simple truth is that every moment in every person’s life contains the teaching he or she most needs at that time. It is not always immediately apparent why a thing is happening because the Sage is often inclined to work in a roundabout fashion. Nonetheless, whatever is happening now is what must happen. Our only task is to trust the process and allow the lesson to seep in.

This hexagram comes as a signal that you are resisting life and preventing your own progress. Nonetheless, success is still possible, for every opposition carries within it the seeds of agreement. Cease resisting yourself, others, life, the Sage. Let go of dark thoughts and aggressive actions. By returning to acceptance, neutrality, and devotion to the way of the Sage, you dissolve the opposition within yourself and open the way for understanding and good fortune to arrive.


Today I opened the I Ching looking for inspiration about this time of the year and this was the gift that I received. So apart from the fact that it perfectly fits my entire week, it is also a gift that is worth sharing with you.

The end of year often comes with a lot of energy, it is the time to reconnect with friends and family, but it is also the time when we stop to re-assess the entire year, while making plans for a prosperous 2012.

So my question for you today is: how did 2011 treat you? Or should I ask how did you treat yourself in 2011? Were you able to find all the hidden gifts that came wrapped inside the ‘problems’ or ‘obstacles’? Or did you spend a lot of time in opposition?

To be totally honest I have to say I spent a lot of time in opposition this year. And I can start by blaming the fact that I have a Jia Wood Day Master and that is not very auspicious in a Xin Metal year, but if I choose to do that I will be missing out on my wrapped gifts.

Being in opposition means to try to go forward while having the breaks on. However for me was more like trying to pedal an old bike with a rusty chain: a lot of effort, for a slow movement forward.

Was I able to unwrap any gifts along the way?

Yes, I was able to ask for help quite a few times this year and met some amazing coaches that really helped me to move on from some very old things that were holding me back.

And sometimes that can be one gift of feeling ‘stuck’: to stop and admit that yes I need some help please! And that can be quite a task for a stubborn Jia Wood… but I did it! So I am really proud of myself.

So my commitment for 2012 is to be more present to the resistance as soon as it arises. Be aware of that first niggling bit of dissatisfaction and sit with it, make friends with it, let go of judgment and listen for that whisper, listen carefully for the solution that is already attached to it, which sometimes it will only show itself when acceptance, love and compassion are also present.

And what about you? How did you go through your opposition phases this year?

Wishing you a magical and mindful Christmas and a Prosperous Start for 2012.

with love,




“I have to be willing to let go of all that I think I am in order to be and feel who I am, my true self and nature.” – Greatness in You seminar.

We may think sometimes that to be truly happy we just need a better job, or to fix our marriage, or to have a two-month holiday on an island in the Pacific. The perception that happiness is something that can be achieved by somehow ‘fixing’ the people and events outside ourselves is always reinforced by society and the media. And this is what Dr. Russ Harris called ‘the happiness trap’. We can go around following the masses, changing partners, changing jobs, moving houses, but how long that relief will last for? Two months, six months, one year?

When I was living in Tasmania I moved houses eight times in 12 years. Each time there was some satisfaction: I have a much better view, the kitchen is much nicer or the backyard is nearly flat (Hobart is very hilly!). And at most the honeymoon lasted six months. After that time I had found all the faults with the new place and it was just another house after all. Moving houses was not really addressing what I was really feeling: a deep inner dissatisfaction. There was something missing deep inside that I could not see at the time.

What was really missing for me was self-acceptance. I was unhappy with the work I was doing and I couldn’t see a way out. At the time I couldn’t really feel lasting joy and contentment and I felt I wasn’t good enough. I had so many judgements about myself that I often felt depressed. Instead of celebrating my successes I was focusing on what I perceived to be my failures: I am a single mum, struggling to finish my PhD and working in odd jobs to pay my bills.

I had created an image of myself that was quite negative and I was trapped and couldn’t see beyond that. The story I was telling myself seemed so true that I believed in it.

It happens to mostly everyone, we create an idea of who we are based on our external circumstances, or more precisely, based on our perception of our external circumstances: our job, our family our possessions. And then we may call ourselves ‘successful’, ‘mostly successful’, ‘satisfied’, ‘content’, ‘failure’ depending on how we judge our situation. That’s why sometimes we meet people that have everything to feel successful but they are unhappy or restless.

The stories we tell ourselves on a daily basis are very powerful. They feel so real that we believe in them. The stories about who we are will be the ones taking us towards self-acceptance or towards self-neglect or self-loath.

However, it is only when we move away from all the stories that we will be able to find true self-acceptance. True self-acceptance is not dependent on our external circumstances or on our perception of our external circumstances.

True self-acceptance arises from getting to know ourselves at a deeper level. It is not a thought, it is a feeling, a knowing. It can only be found when we go beyond the stories, beyond the rational thoughts.

True self-acceptance arises when we are able to break through the story, however good or bad, of ‘who we think we are’ to meet our true self, getting in touch with our true nature, maybe for the first time. And it is through that embrace that true contentment arises.

with love,


“Your thoughts matter because they create matter”

What are you thinking right now?

Did you know that you have in average 60,000 thoughts each day and that 95% of those thoughts are the same thoughts you had yesterday?

So if you are looking at improving your personal or professional life, wouldn’t be important to become more aware of the types of thoughts you are having at a deeper level?

Mindfulness meditation can help you in observing your the day to day thinking – such as planning, worrying about the past, worrying about the future, criticizing, more planning- and moving beyond that.

Mindfulness meditation will support you in observing your thinking underlying the day-to-day ‘noise’ or your common thoughts.

Because it’s only when you realise that underneath a thought of I’m going to be late! lies another thought such as I’m not good enough or  Who cares about me anyway? that you will start applying real change to your life.

with love from Ana