Well okay, it started with a stinkbug that led to a thought, which subsequently led to the crappy sleep, headache, and general ick feeling. You see, there was a stinkbug crawling around my bed and into my covers at around 1:30am. It freaked me out, smelled bad, and I’m pretty sure it bit me on the underside of my arm as there is now a little orange mark where I was feeling pain and itchiness last night. As the icing on my creepy cake, I also felt the little booger’s crunchy exoskeleton in my blankets next to my bare skin. Needless to say, I got a huge case of the heebies, jumped up, and flipped on the light much to my sweet husband’s dismay. I then spent a few minutes searching for the thing before finding it just inside my side of the blankets and flicking it across the room. With a shudder, I turned out the light and tried to close my eyes.
I was feeling settled again when our little black cat, Poppy, decided there was something in the room to hunt. She started poking around my nightstand, trying to pick something up with her little whiskered mouth. I was hoping it was a piece of paper or a randomly placed hair tie but no such luck. I flipped the light switch again to see her batting around another little Asian stinkbug. Now, ordinarily I don’t really mind bugs. And these little imports are unusual and don’t belong here, but I still don’t mind their occasional, small-numbered presence. Unless they’re in my room or anywhere near my bed. To me there is an obvious vulnerability attached to the place where you sleep. You’ll be mostly unconscious for 6-8 hours at a time and the last thing anyone wants is to be crawled on, nibbled at, or excreted on by some little insect visitor. So I felt justified in killing stinkbug number 2 (because Poppy is useless when it comes to these things) and tried to settle back in.
As I feel back asleep my head was worrying about the bugs. These pests are becoming a bit of a problem in our area. Plus we live in a house that is over 100 years old with some of our windows having been installed in the age of disco. So I was edgy and felt the need for diligent awareness even as dreams began to fade in. As a result of my worry I got a terrible night’s sleep and probably had a bunch of bug-covered nightmares that I (thankfully) can’t remember in the light of day. But some part of me did remember, or at least was still strongly affected by my worried state of mind. When the alarm went off on my phone it was accompanied by a vibration that sounded very much like buzzing bugs as it rattled against my night table. And that’s why I jumped so high. Not because of the alarm, but because I thought the alarm was a killer stinkbug coming to get me.
What’s been demonstrated here is that our thoughts have a very real impact on our physical world, our health, and our lives in general. It was silly to worry about the stinkbugs and cause a mild state of panic within my mind. Granted, I had an experience that validated that worry, it was still pointless to worry in the first place. I took care of the problem, I wasn’t going to go sleep somewhere else, and I wasn’t going to sit up all night looking out for kamikaze bugs falling from the ceiling. I wanted to sleep. I needed to sleep. But instead of calming my mind and resolving to do just that, I made myself stressed out and restless. And my body is now angry with me for my wayward thoughts. Just imagine if I worried every night as I was falling asleep. What sort of toll would my body and mind take over time? How would this consistent worry begin to shape the very fabric of my reality?
When we talk about “thought forms” within a spiritual context, we usually see them as things of our own purposeful creation that we manifest to exercise our will. There is also the common idea that everything everyone has ever thought of exists on some ethereal plane and has the ability (if given enough energy in the form of belief) to impact the material world. This would include mythical creatures, bogeymen, and the Loch Ness Monster.
What I propose from this little story is that thought forms are a very real and very controllable construct of the human mind that we can use for good or ill in our everyday lives. While most of us are completely unaware of the concept, thoughts are vestiges of our imaginations. Often we believe our imaginations are innate – that we’ve been born thinking one way or another. In reality, our thoughts are conditioned by our environments and experiences and we get to choose whether our imagination is used in positive or negative ways. But first we have to own that power and accept that we alone are the ones in control of our own minds. We need to be willing to practice restraint in order to tame a mind possessed of its own volition, a mind that feels out of our control. And then we need to nourish our minds, imaginations, and thoughts with the very things we can use to manifest positivity instead of negativity. Instead of filling our minds with useless, negative information like gossip, violent media, worry, resentments, etc. we can consciously choose to feed our minds positive, compassionate, non-exploitative, unselfish things that will fuel a more positive outlook on everything.
From my poorly constructed and admittedly quite simplified flow chart above, we can see that we’re given choices as to how to deal with our experiences. While they may serve as catalysts that either truly are or just seem to be out of our control, we still get to decide how we handle them and how we let them affect our behavior. Often times just naming the catalyst that shaped our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors is a way to remove its negative influence and turn it into a positive learning experience.
I believe this flowchart idea can work with just about any situation in life. We either learn and better ourselves or remain in a state of unawareness that perpetuates suffering in our lives. That suffering then has the potential to affect other lives, like the lives of our children and other loved ones. So by recognizing the patterns of our thoughts, unpacking our emotional baggage in the form of naming catalysts in our lives, and taking ownership of our feelings and reactions, we can shape our world consciously and more positively. At least that’s the theory.
We can make the choice to be happy and live positively. And that all begins with a thought. Perhaps we should make it a point to be as conscious of what we put into our minds as we are about what we put into our bodies.