Let’s say, you go to Target. For $29.99, you buy the new Swiffy-Swaffy, an automated device that can suck up dust through your house and polish your counter tops.
Great as long as it’s sucking up dust and polishing countertops.
But let’s say you look over and it’s sucking up all your important work papers instead. It’s spritzing cleaning liquid all over your nice clothes.
That would be a problem. This tool you bought is not helping in the way it’s supposed to. You’d probably return it, or reprogram it, or try to get it fixed.
So consider, for a moment, that “thought” is like the Swiffy-Swaffy. Your mind is like the Swiffy-Swaffy. It’s a device, a tool, for a particular purpose.
It has some very cool features:
It can figure out how to make stuff happen. It can be the super-sharp VP of Operations you hire to help you execute on your dreams.
It can see ways out of tough jams, and spark solutions to knotty problems.
It can hold information, vocabulary, learning from a lifetime, and deploy them when needed.
That’s what the Swiffy-Swaffy thought-tool was meant for: a few particular functions. Of course, most of us weren’t taught that. Our culture teaches us the mind is us, and the most important part of us, the part that should lead.
Most of us don’t end up using our minds, but instead end up with our minds running us.
The misuse of mind — as sovereign, rather than servant, causes us and the world lots of suffering. It also makes mind unable to effectively do even those few planning/thinking/sorting things it could do well.
Mind running you looks like this:
You have heart longings and let your mind rule on whether they are worthy or not (let me tell you: it will always tell you they are not).
Your mind’s chatter talks you out of the things you long to do.
You get lost in pursuits, books, problems, that involve challenging mental gymnastics, but that lack any kind of heart or purpose for you.
Mind running us is essays and conversations that argue for the sake of arguing, commentators on the news that have forgotten why we care about having news (or civilization) at all. It’s CEOs who have forgotten the that fundamental point of business — of money, of an economy — is to improve the lives of human beings here on earth.
Here’s what “using your mind” effectively looks like:
What really matters- your dreams, your fulfillment, the wellbeing of the world — is king. You know your mind is just a tool to help you with that stuff.
You tune into your heart and see what it longs for. You give your soul permission to tell you about its destiny here. You let your heart break with the pain of what is happening to other human beings, and give in to your desire to heal some part of it. Those parts of you set direction.
Then, you use that snazzy, snappy mind thing to help you figure out how to create what your heart/spirit wants to create, to help you make plans and evaluate options and all that.
Mind can do what it does best: plan, sort, figure out the how. Mind brings rigor, good questions, analysis, discernment to make your heart-driven, spirit-guided, work more effective.
Heart and spirit are given the authority to do what they do best: find meaning, source truth, refuel the self, lean toward their destinies.
When mind veers off into directions and into roles that don’t serve your hearts desires and your soul’s longings…you redirect it. You say, “Come back on over here mind, focus on this task, this life-giving, light-bringing aim. Use your wonderful gifts here.”
Let heart and spirit remain king, and mind their gifted servant.
p.s. Special credit to Michele McHall whose work on mind, body, heart and spirit intelligences has helped inform my thinking about the role of each of these parts of us.
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Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Paula says:

    This is just the Best Post and a wonderful metaphor for remembering the optimal heart-body-mind-spirit connection. I learned recently from a neonatal specialist friend that the heart cells are the first to form in a human embryo. It is the unfurling of these cells from which the arteries that feed the arms/hands, brain, and body development are formed (to do the heart’s bidding!).

    My own heart resonates with what you’ve written … as if the wisdom of the ages has somehow been distilled into its clear, easy-to-remember, sparkling essence. Thank you, Tara!

  • Bahieh K. says:

    Hi Tara!!

    What an enlightening post. Scary what happens when we misuse the mind. It reminds me of this post I wrote a while ago about putting the soul first.


    I was also curious about what difference you make between the spirit and the soul. I have been wondering about this topic for a while and done my own little research. What are your ideas on the topic?

    Also there is a fabulous writer and philosopher by the name of William Hatcher (now deceased). He has written numerous books and articles on topics related to the soul and morality. Don’t be afraid if his bio says he’s a mathematician, his writing is very accessible. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_S._Hatcher).
    I haven’t read all his books (yet) but I can recommend the one called ‘Love, Power and Justice.’ It is an easy read full of deep concepts. It provided me with some major Aha moments.
    I think you’ll enjoy his work.

    Looking forward to the rest of this conversation.

    Blessings, Bahieh K.

  • […] in our culture, our delusional collective belief that the domain of heart is less important than the domain of the head, that the public realm is somehow more serious than the domestic one. That talk about business, […]

  • […] in our culture, our delusional collective belief that the domain of heart is less important than the domain of the head, that the public realm is somehow more serious than the domestic one. That talk about business, […]

  • […] topic regularly in her Wise Living blog. This post encourages us to increase our awareness of how our minds can take over with unhelpful patterns–and provides some suggestions about how to change […]

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