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The Power of Our Minds


I'm carrying this comment by over from another thread:

Okay people. We have to believe in the power of our minds if we believe in the power of the universe at all -- whether it's in natural events or the alignment of the stars. So keep the faith. Spread the word. Affirm your asses off every day: Obama will win.

You and my friend were right, vkp. Obama won! emoticon

There's one question I have about affirmations and the power of our minds that can best be summed up by two book titles:

The Power of Positive Thinking versus When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

I don't think we can always prevent "bad" things from happening just by saying affirmations and thinking positively. I'd like to think we could, but I don't think we have that much power over everything, all the time. For example, I am haunted by an elderly friend of mine, long deceased, who went blind in the last years of his life and who was convinced with all his heart that God would answer his prayers and heal/reverse his blindness before he died.

I also wonder where letting go comes into play. Joan Borysenko wrote in Fire in the Soul: A New Psychology of Spiritual Optimism, these steps for living:

1. Show up.
2. Pay attention.
3. Tell the truth.
4. Don't be attached to the results.

We could probably add "Think postively" or "Be optimistic" to the list. Glancing at the book now, I think I should reread it; it's been many years since I did. But for now, I'm hoping for a discussion on the topic of affirmations, positive thinking and their effects on the world we live in. I don't want to be a crepehanger and am open to different points of view. I do believe in the power of positive thinking, to a point anyway. I also believe in miracles but have witnessed that sometimes the answer to a very heartfelt prayer is no.

Nov/26/2012, 12:21 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: The Power of Our Minds


Not sure exactly where you want to go with this. What came to mind immediately was when I was laid off from Westinghouse after 16 years with them. I had no experience on how to go about looking for a job. I did go through the training on how to go about it; and I bought a book on positive thinking: It must have been Anthony Robbins. I used his suggestions and eventually got a job. But after I had the job I looked back on his methods, his thinking, as foolish, shallow. Did I get the job because he helped me to lift myself up from my gathering depression; or did I get the job because a fellow I knew told me about this marvelous website for people with my background? Zak


quote:

Katlin wrote:

I'm carrying this comment by over from another thread:

Okay people. We have to believe in the power of our minds if we believe in the power of the universe at all -- whether it's in natural events or the alignment of the stars. So keep the faith. Spread the word. Affirm your asses off every day: Obama will win.

You and my friend were right, vkp. Obama won! emoticon

There's one question I have about affirmations and the power of our minds that can best be summed up by two book titles:

The Power of Positive Thinking versus When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

I don't think we can always prevent "bad" things from happening just by saying affirmations and thinking positively. I'd like to think we could, but I don't think we have that much power over everything, all the time. For example, I am haunted by an elderly friend of mine, long deceased, who went blind in the last years of his life and who was convinced with all his heart that God would answer his prayers and heal/reverse his blindness before he died.

I also wonder where letting go comes into play. Joan Borysenko wrote in Fire in the Soul: A New Psychology of Spiritual Optimism, these steps for living:

1. Show up.
2. Pay attention.
3. Tell the truth.
4. Don't be attached to the results.

We could probably add "Think postively" or "Be optimistic" to the list. Glancing at the book now, I think I should reread it; it's been many years since I did. But for now, I'm hoping for a discussion on the topic of affirmations, positive thinking and their effects on the world we live in. I don't want to be a crepehanger and am open to different points of view. I do believe in the power of positive thinking, to a point anyway. I also believe in miracles but have witnessed that sometimes the answer to a very heartfelt prayer is no.




Nov/26/2012, 2:44 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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This positive affirmation "you get what you focus on" idea is often called magical thinking. Real magic is not about positivity, but about attunement with metaphysical energies. Indeed, the phenomenon of sending and receiving a kind of prayer to/from some unknown force has evidentiary confirmation; but this is not about positive self-hypnosis. What that kind of practice can provide, though, is a steering of the individual's focus toward fulfilling specific desires, which brings in the intuitive work of the subconscious to help highlight opportunities that might otherwise have been missed. In the best of these practices, goal setting as well as the energy of a positive outlook which is usually attractive to others who may be in position to further those goals become part of a useful process.
Nov/26/2012, 6:15 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
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Re: The Power of Our Minds


Hey Zak and libra, thank you both for your responses. I don't have a plan for where I hope this thread will go. I hear a lot of talk these days just about everywhere on the efficacy of positive thinking and using affirmations, about the possibility of creating reality through the power of our minds, our thoughts and beliefs, our fears and expectations. I have questions and confusion and need/want to fine-tune my perspective. I'm gleaning from your responses that I need to deepen my understanding. It's not so black and white. For example, I like the distinction you make, libra, between magical thinking and real magic. Not that I really understand what the distinction is. I also like the notion of not only sending but also receiving a kind of prayer from "some unknown force." Truthfully, I've never thought of receiving a prayer, as opposed to an answer to a prayer, but the concept fascinates me.

I guess my goal for this thread is that I learn something about this topic, but since I don't know what I don't know, I can't be more specific. emoticon
Nov/27/2012, 12:30 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Katlin, Libra -- I really liked Libra's comments. It goes beyond mere wishful thinking, and seems to encompass the results of this prayer, or whathaveyou. How your attitude will influence others, etc., so that it is not merely prayer.

To tell you the truth, my own attitude about this positive thinking, or -- looked at in another way -- prayer depends on where I am emotionally. I guess in some ways I'm a relativist. When my father died and when I almost died, I could very strongly feel the presence of God -- a God that I doubt even exists at other times. So there you have it.

There is an excellent book on the subject by a Jewish psychiatrist who survived the holocaust. I'll try to remember his name, maybe search for him on the net. I didn't quite agree with him but he was very good. Zak
Nov/27/2012, 8:30 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: The Power of Our Minds


Zak,

I've heard that people who have had near death experiences often report feeling an overwhelming sense of unconditional love while they are near death. Was your experience of feeling God when your dad died and you almost almost died something like that? I used to have a terrible fear of death and am still frightened by it but not quite so much, so I am always interested in the stories of those who have come close to crossing over.

I think where I am emotionally also plays a part in how I feel about the role of optimism and the power of prayer in my life. Also, when you live in a climate where winter exists, it isn't hard to understand why the Baby Jesus story is set near the time of the Winter Solstice when a lack of warmth and light call forth the need for hope and new life.
Nov/28/2012, 2:37 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Katlin,

My experience was not a near-death experience in the traditional sense. Rather, it was the "knowledge" that I could very soon be dead that made me very aware of God. I've been in situations before where the tension was great, where I considered death, such as when we had to descend into a steep and dangerous gorge during a forest fire, but the certainty of a possible death was not so great as during my heart attack. I was on a flight from Dallas, and the plane was trying to find a place to land. My mind, my being, went through various stages of awareness. Mostly I felt a deep sadness at possibly having to leave this world; I felt that rather than fear. But when I was finally put in an ambulance, and told I was going to be dropped off among strangers at an emergency room, I felt a fear of being alone, of leaving the two friendly EMT's for the new group of strangers. Odd, but true.

I think it's good to think about death, to think about being right with God, or if you are an atheist, about being right with yourself or whathaveyou. The knowledge that you have lived the best life you know, acknowledging mistakes and the like. Eventually, we are all going to be at the precipice. Zak

quote:

Katlin wrote:

Zak,

I've heard that people who have had near death experiences often report feeling an overwhelming sense of unconditional love while they are near death. Was your experience of feeling God when your dad died and you almost almost died something like that? I used to have a terrible fear of death and am still frightened by it but not quite so much, so I am always interested in the stories of those who have come close to crossing over.

I think where I am emotionally also plays a part in how I feel about the role of optimism and the power of prayer in my life. Also, when you live in a climate where winter exists, it isn't hard to understand why the Baby Jesus story is set near the time of the Winter Solstice when a lack of warmth and light call forth the need for hope and new life.



Nov/30/2012, 2:29 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
Terreson Profile
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Not sure how to respond to your question, Kat, if question it is. But here are some thoughts scared up by the post.

Of Beethoven, Goethe said this. "His talent has utterly amazed me. But unfortunately his is a most savage personality. Certainly he is not entirely to be blamed if he finds the world a detestable place, but the effect is none the less disadventageous both for himself and others." My interpretation is this: Okay, the world is a shitty place and people tend to be disappointing. But you don't have to be such an ass hole in response to it all.

Can't remember where but in a piece of writing I sum up the beauty of a fictional woman's character by saying that, in the end, she always dances through the gloom gracefully.

There was this great old witch named Sybil Leeks. She belonged to what is known as the New Forest tradition, based in Britain. She wrote a book on the art and practice of witchcraft. She pointedly said that, when invoking the Goddess and conducting magic, or majick, it is not enough to think your thought. You must speak it aloud to the Goddess. My sense is that she instinctively understood that speech is symbolic action and that to work one's will requires action.

When witches conduct magic, another form of prayer, there is a set formula. Draw down the power of the moon, body out one's wish, project outward what one wants, visualize the spell, for lack of a better word, as reaching its destination and completion. As for magic it is nothing more or less than the working of one's will. I've seen it worked for good. And I've known it to be worked for evil. I find no inherent harmony in magic, no allignment with the universe. Just a working of the will. It is why witches draw a cautionary note when they say: Be carefull of the magic you make for it will come back on you threefold.

These are just some stray throughts. Hope they are taken as such. During my last surgery my partner insisted on staying with me 24/7. This for 12 days. In the beginning I was delerious from both pain and medication. I would speak out. According to my witness there were times, however, when what I said was coherent and purposeful. Her sense was that I was conversation. I remember not being alone. In addition to my friend there seemed to be others in the room. Can't say as I recognized them as anyone I knew. But it seemed to me they were there, in that room. Not sure what I believe in, religiously speaking. This stance of mine is intentional, deliberate. I frankly don't want to be sure and mostly because to name a thing tends to reduce it in size. But maybe I was close to the "other side" in those days following the surgery. Anything is possible. My friend said the veil got pretty thin in those days. I just can't know.

There it is, Kat. What I just said. That is how I would respond to your line of inquiry. Anything is possible. In the meantime I feel it is contingent on me to be more like Goethe, less like Beethoven.

Tere
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Just ran into this:

[sign in to see URL]

Synchronicity: How prayer, DNA, law of attraction, and miracles work
Dec/1/2012, 5:59 pm Link to this post Send Email to libramoon   Send PM to libramoon Blog
 
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I thank you all again for your responses, including the link you posted, libra, with the DFW audio at the end. I don't have a clear response at the moment, but wanted you to know I'm taking it all in.
Dec/2/2012, 12:54 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Well, this stuff is not theoretical any more. There are so many books out there, many written by scientists, about the actual power of the mind to change things. On an anecdotal level, think of it this way: words have power. (It’s no accident that “in the beginning was the Word.”) Any religion that believes in the power of prayer knows that. We act according to our thoughts, and our thoughts are influenced by the words we hear and use. If we constantly say, “I’m fucked,” or “I’ll never be happy” or “everyone hates me” – we will live according to those truths. A person who believes people are dreadful and selfish exudes that belief in action, whereas a person who knows how to live from a place of love exudes the belief in goodness. We all know we are different people with the grouchy grinches of the world. We can do nothing right when an angry grandfather glowers at us in his certainty that we are no good. When bathed in love we find we are wonderful people.

There is a reason behind Buddha’s 8 fold path of right action, right speech, right thought etc. Speaking and thinking in positive ways creates the state in which we want to live.

The power of thought alone – let alone the words put to it – is documented all over the place. A great book (blanking on title but will think of it eventually) written by a straight up science guy who thought he’d fiddle around with brain waves and thoughts and see what’s what. Along the way, he decided to test plants for pain and consciousness etc. He put electrodes on plants like an EEG. One day, he thought (silently to himself), “What would happen if I burned the plant?” The minute he had that thought, the monitoring device registered frantic spikes in the “EEG” read out. The thought had some kind of effect outside himself and the plant sensed it. He decided not to burn the plant.

The daddy of all books along the line of the power of positive thinking, in a non-spiritual vein, and one that many have heard of was written in the fifties – Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. After interviewing 500 of the world's wealthiest and most successful business owners (all men, of course, but anyway, it was the fifties) – he published the secrets to their manifesting their money.... Using thought, visualization and so forth, before that was even on the radar. He is the creator of what is now known as "mastermind" -- meaning a group of people who get together and create ideas -- when all of them get together, it creates what's considered a larger consciousness, if you will, and more ideas get generated.

I like Shakti Gawain's book Creative Visualization (and it's an easy read), and also there is David Neagle. He is genius at explaining this stuff. Check out his site: [sign in to see URL] -- some very spiritual sounding, but the content is great.

And hey, how many stories have you heard or read about people visualizing their cancer away. There are hospitals that use techniques in which words, repeated, chanted words, along with visualization and love – I’m not even kidding you – and they have results. I could go on and on.

People seem to have a lot of contempt for what they see as the “Pollyanna syndrome”. I remember having a Pollyanna book as a child and loving it. She was not foolish or inane, as her reputation seems to have her these days. She did not deny what was real, but simply refused to see the world through a doomsday, negative lens. She felt the power of happiness in her life. It is okay to see bad things for what they are – I mean not just okay, it’s vital to see through clear eyes. Then it’s not a matter of “seeing the bright side” but rather, as a shaman will remind us, finding the “gifts” that bad experiences, emotions or events have brought to us. Find the gift, then release the negative shadow or residue of the harmful thing.

I recommend that you reread (or read if you have not ever done so) Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel, The Secret Garden. Also, guys out there -- this is NOT a girl book. I used to teach it, and boys and girls alike were transported by it. (And 2 of the 3 protagonists are male.) You may not remember the powerful message of the book – but two characters transform themselves through “right speech”, "right thought" and “right action.” Who knows? Maybe Burnett was a closet Buddhist.

I’ll stop now because if I don’t I’ll never do anything else today.
vkp


Dec/8/2012, 3:05 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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Thank you for adding your good thoughts to this discussion, vkp, and for the book leads, some of which I have read (but not recently!) and some of which are new to me.

I've been carrying around the questions I raised upthread for the past few weeks and have come across a few tentative answers when I wasn't looking. The first one is from the last section of the book Defy Gravity by Caroline Myss. Under the heading "Learn to Pray,”

“Pray beyond petitioning for stuff you want for yourself. Learn to be present to the grace of the sacred. Open yourself to the mystic that you are by nature. Your intuition is not a skill to be honed so that you can figure out how to stay safe and avoid losing money. If you think that, you will never develop more than your gut instincts. You need to challenge your fear of your life's becoming unreasonable—because it already is unreasonable. In truth, your life has never been reasonable, it's just that you keep hoping tomorrow will be different and that you will find a way of to bring control over your world.

Prayer and trust and your capacity to reason as a mystic give you the wisdom to recognize that life will always be full of challenge and crises. The wise way is not to attempt to find the one path that promises you will never have to endure the pain of loss and illness, and instead to learn how to endure and transcend when unreasonable events come your way. Learning to defy gravity in your world—to think, perceive, and act at the mystic level of consciousness—is the greatest gift you can give yourself, because it is the gift of truth. And as we are bound to learn again and again in this life, the truth does indeed set us free.”

The second tentative answer came when I caught a segment of Wayne Dyer’s Wishes Fulfilled on PBS. Dyer talked about a wish he had been trying to manifest without success—until he let go of the critical and judgmental feelings he had towards someone associated with the outcome of his wish.

Then, too, I've been thinking about Emmet Fox’s The Sermon on the Mount. So, all of your comments taken together with new information and things I am remembering are helping me begin to fine-tune my thoughts on this topic in just the way I had hoped. I still have so much to learn, but it’s a start.
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Have you ever heard the saying, "Worry is negative praryer?" Worry is hard to avoid, but if we can reframe it so it does not create deep grooves in our consciousness that end up controlling us AND our hoped for outcomes, we will be in a better place.

I like your quotations and the epiphanies (or gradual realizations and understandings) they have sparked.
vkp
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Odds and Ends response:

I think I often I pray out of fear and worry rather than out of hope and optimism. That's why the Myss quote spoke to me so much. I think you are saying the same thing in the paragraph you wrote about the "Pollyanna syndrome," vkp. In saying prayers and affirmations or doing creative visualizations, it's not about staying safe, avoiding pain and loss, maintaining control in/over your life. Believing those things are possible are the magical thinking libra referred to as opposed to real magic: "Whatever you think you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it." (Goethe)

When I was a kid The Secret Garden was one of my favorite books, but I don't remember what it was about now! I intend to pick up a copy and reread it as an adult. I thought I had Gawain's Creative Visualization, but it's not on my shelf now. However, I do have her book The Path of Transformation, and it doesn't look like I've read it. emoticon

Since this thread was sparked by comments made in another thread about the election, I can't help but think about what Romney surrogates have been saying since: apparently the Romneys and their associates firmly believed Romney was going to win. When the battleground state results and projections started coming in, they still couldn't believe he hadn't. Mitt and Ann felt it was Mitt's destiny and their turn to be in the WH. Hence, the reason they say Romney had no acceptance speech ready. Romney seems to have mastered the way of manifesting money and must have believed that experience could be transferred into winning an election.

The experiment about the plant EKG reminded me of What the Bleep!?: Down the Rabbit Hole. If I'm not mistaken, there was a segment in the movie about an experiment done with plants which showed plants that were prayed for grew better than plants that weren't.
Dec/12/2012, 1:27 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Rediscovered this article this morning and thought I'd post it here a reminder to myself and in case any of you are interested:

The Spiritual Adventurer’s Guide to Prayer By Elizabeth Lesser

[url][sign in to see URL]
Dec/17/2012, 12:05 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Pema Chödrön: Tonglen Meditation Practice

Try this Tonglen meditation and send comfort to those in need (video)

[url][sign in to see URL]
Dec/17/2012, 6:25 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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An email recently sent to me (and many others) by my shaman. She lives in NYC and practices the Peruvian lineage.

quote:

Dear Ones,

In this time of transition of the New Year, the Solstice, the darkest time of the year and the birth of the light, this end of the Mayan Long Count of 26,000 years, we have an opportunity. We can hold a vision of beauty, peace and love for ourselves and our world. We have a choice to look at what is problematic and focus on that, or to imagine something wonderful. When we see aspects of the world or our lives that are upsetting, we can acknowledge them and then ask ourselves, "What do I want instead?"

I was talking to a friend of mine about the tragedy in Connecticut, and she said, "I've been waiting for someone to say the obvious: What about a world without guns or bombs?"

What a beautiful vision to hold in this powerful time. I actually find it a challenge, but during my breaks in the day, I am holding that vision, imagining a world of peace, of creativity, of harmony amongst people and with all the beings of the earth.

I offer the thought to take that vision and spend a little time with it. Imagine the most beautiful world and life that you can, even if just for a few seconds. And then do it again! Every amazing creation begins with an idea.


Dec/20/2012, 9:34 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
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In their New Year email, Omega Institute linked to an excerpt from Marianne Williamson's (new?) book:

The Law of Divine Compensation

"How the Universe Maintains Balance to Your Benefit

The universe is self-correcting and is set up to work on your behalf. Like a GPS that re-routes you when you take a wrong turn, the universe does the same to bring you back to an abundant state."

[url][sign in to see URL]

I'm thinking about the article, good food for thought, and may buy the book as I usually like Willamson's work.
Jan/5/2013, 9:15 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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I received this link in an email titled: "A Video to Inspire Writing!" The video spoke to me, maybe it will speak to you too.

Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.


[sign in to see URL]

Last edited by Katlin, Jan/6/2013, 3:23 pm
Jan/6/2013, 2:51 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Just found this follow up video:

Brené Brown: Listening to shame

Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.


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Last edited by Katlin, Jan/6/2013, 3:21 pm
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