When I was small, my parents used to have many ways of trying to coax us children to behave and tell the truth. Perhaps you, too, believed that telling fibs could give you a severe case of spots on the tongue. I also have a vivid recollection of being told that we all have a soul that is normally white if we are good but has shadows and black spots on it from when we misbehave. If that were true, goodness knows what mine would look like now but at the time I had an image in my mind of an amorphous white blob floating somewhere above my head, peppered with many dark bits and looking like a misshapen steamed suet pudding full of over-sized raisins.
What they were saying in an oblique sort of way, though, was that all our actions and words have consequences and that those consequences impinge on our future happiness or spiritual well-being. That isn’t a thought just for children – it applies, perhaps even more strongly, throughout our adult life.
Cause and effect
According to the law of cause and effect, every action, on every level, has consequences. That means that everything we do, say, and indeed think, is a seed that will have a future effect. Some of those seeds are weak and the consequences will be insignificant but others will obviously have more impact. Words said in anger, for instance, come out in an instant yet the effects can be dire and long-lasting. But what about thoughts? Do unexpressed thoughts sow seeds?
There is an extremely close connection between the mind – our mental energy – and our physical and emotional energy. Whatever we think has some impact somewhere. Our body is a complex energy field and through it runs a network of subtle energy channels, like a vast web. This energy is sometimes called “chi”. When our thinking is positive, the chi in our bodies tends to be more vibrant and flows well. Good and plentiful chi results in increased vitality, a greater sense of well-being and a stronger immune system. We often say that someone “radiates good health” and most of us can sense the energy radiating from someone with a positive outlook.
Now what happens when we have a negative thought? We can feel on top of the world and someone will say something and we “sink to our boots”. The energy changes, doesn’t it? It withdraws. It isn’t the direct effect of what the other person says that causes the energy change but how we perceive it. Our mind goes into a negative state and we don’t feel good anymore.
A black hole
That’s an example of a clear immediate reaction but the effects of long-term negative thinking can be disastrous. Our energy field takes on a semi-permanent state of withdrawal – like a “mini black hole”. Instead of flowing well, our chi begins to stagnate, causing congestion in our energy field and our body.
The trouble is that once we start thinking in a certain way, it is difficult to stop. One thought creates (or causes) another thought and negative thinking in particular can quickly become habitual. It follows the path of least resistance, like a body slumping from the pull of gravity rather than sitting or standing straight. There is a downward spiral and it becomes difficult to sustain a positive train of thought for long, or at all. Our energy, our chi, is poor and later, if not earlier, in life our mental and physical health will suffer.
Butterfly mind syndrome
Rather than being particularly positive or negative, our thinking may just be chaotic. We think of one thing, then another; then we hear a sound or something said and we’re off again. Or we pick up a magazine, our smartphone or tablet and our mind is distracted here, there and everywhere. Then our energy is scattered, loose, and untidy. Our chi is incoherent and out of balance; our energy field becomes weak and leaky – we are like a pot with cracks or holes. This is what happens when we are unfocused. Scattered thinking doesn’t necessarily make us feel bad in the short-term – it’s just tiring – but over time it depletes our energy reserves. The only way to overcome this is to draw our thinking and our energy in. We’ll look at this at a later date.
Good, positive, selfless thinking will sow seeds for a happier and more positive outlook on life; that in turn will lead to positive speech and positive actions all of which will produce good or positive effects on our health. But positive thinking by itself isn’t enough. It won’t work unless we unload some of our baggage and clutter. And that’s what we’ll start to do next.