The River –
“Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. The river is your stream of consciousness. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling or thought. Don’t hate it, judge it, critique it, or move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. When another thought arises—as no doubt it will—welcome it and let it go, returning to your inner watch place on the bank of the river.”
#ThomasKeating, “Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel”
One of the greatest and most difficult realizations is the truth that we are not our thoughts. We are not our actions. We are not our egos. True, each of these can reveal things about us and to the world but we are not these things.
The problem is we’ve been taught the opposite most of our lives. The famous quote; “Reap a thought, a word, an action, then a destiny,” seems right but our thoughts do not have to lead us to who we ultimately become. We can choose to go deeper, change paths, refuse to be captive to our thoughts by breaking free of them.
Earlier today I was dropping off a list of names for the incarcerated father’s class to one of the corrections officers at the jail. Usually, there are a few pleasantries and I do my best to stay out of their way as they do a hard job with immense pressure. However, today was different. When I handed the list to the corrections officer he was rude and said something unkind. The biggest part of me knows the responsibilities of the position requires focus and a mind which can make quick decisions. The residents are often attempting to “get away with something“, they work long hours, put up with a lot of harsh treatment and there’s not a lot of “thank you’s“.
I tried to ignore it as I walked away from him. These things don’t happen often but as I got further from him I noticed a small part of me was upset at the way I had been treated. It didn’t last long because as I walked by the cells and buzzing doors which led to my class a question formed in my mind; “Are you going to let what was said imprison you? Will you allow the hurtful words of another coerce you into a bad mood or will you choose to be free?”
By the time I go to the classroom I had decided that I would be not be captured, imprisoned, held captive by the words of another. I let it go and it lifted off my shoulders and disappeared.