I sometimes like to research the lives of celebrities to understand how they react to failures and how they stay at the top despite of the opposition or personal misfortunes.
So recently I was watching Madonna’s 2019 Eurovision videos. Her voice was definitely not right, yet the official video that she released had her voice corrected! You can hear the difference in this video:
This led me to watching a similar loss of voice that happened to Mariah Carey. And as I was watching her voice failure (she handled it much worse than Madonna) suddenly I became aware of a thought in my head that said:
You are wasting your time.
…which was followed by a dip in the mood – I felt such an unpleasant depressive feeling of emptiness that it really surprised me. I haven’t felt this way for a very long time.
But there was a difference from those past times I felt that way – I knew now what caused the unpleasant change of mood.
It’s very hard to believe this if you don’t practice mindfulness. You would never think that a thought as tiny as that could cause you to feel so low. But it does.
Thoughts have a hypnotic quality about them. The less aware you are, the more control they have over you, making you automatically react to their suggestions.
It takes much daily mindfulness to be able to catch certain thoughts because they can be as short as a blink. And yet, their impact is huge.
A negative thought as short as one or two seconds can make you feel down for a long time if you fail to catch it. You would think that for some mysterious reason you are suddenly feeling down, and you will believe the mood to have some reality basis and will live it.
However, if you know the mood was caused by an insignificant thought that suddenly entered your head, you have a choice. You can refuse to believe in the validity of the mood dip.
This will cause you to feel not as bad, and for a shorter time. As soon as you’re aware of the cause of the negative mood, it cannot hold you in its grip fully.
So the reason people feel down is because of negative thoughts. But those thoughts, unless one is mindful, operate below the level of awareness, and thus remain undetected.
The only solution to these unpleasant states is daily mindfulness. The more thought-free and attuned to the now you are, the more you are likely to notice random thoughts entering your head and what they do to your mood.
The good news is, you don’t even need to learn any formal meditation to catch those thoughts. You simply need to engage in daily mindfulness, even if for a short time during the day, like being intensely present, carefully listening to something, feeling your muscles when you move, relaxing into total silence…
The point of all these practices is to get you out of your mind. As long as you’re trapped by thoughts and concepts, you live in an artificial reality in which your mood is decided by random thoughts.
But when you manage to free yourself from the grip of identification with thoughts and beliefs, they no longer hold you hostage because you know that you are separate from them.
The longer you’re aware on a daily basis, the better. But even very short awareness periods are better than nothing. The motivation of freedom from the identification with low moods should be more than enough to keep you attempting to stay mindful.
Day by day your awareness will grow, until you can catch even tiny thoughts causing low moods. This will give you a choice of whether to identify with low moods caused by random thoughts or not. And that’s what I call true freedom.