What goes on in the mind always precedes what goes on in the world. And this is no more obviously the case than in the battle for purity. Every act of lust is preceded by 100 lustful thoughts. The problem is most people wait until the last minute to attempt to take control of their thoughts. And by then, the momentum is often too strong to overcome.
The mind is always visualizing the future. When it visualizes pain, anxiety and depression are the result. When it visualizes success, energy and excitement follow. For most of us, our mind’s natural visualizing faculty–call it a subconscious program– is on auto-pilot for the majority of our lives. This isn’t always a bad thing–the program reinforces how we’ve taught our brains to act up until the present. However, if change is what we seek, then we have to disrupt this program by consciously altering the way we think. Visualization, in a nutshell, is about intentionally taking control of our thought life. It involves harnessing the images and emotions that make thoughts so powerful. It’s getting our mind to work for us rather than against us–developing a new subconscious program that is more consistent with our values.
Let me give an example, especially for those new to visualization. Let’s say my mind visualizes a lustful image of an attractive woman. I have the choice either to entertain that image until it results in some lustful action or to replace it with something else. I can’t simply say “I’m going to try my hardest not to think about the image.” The mind doesn’t work that way. The harder you resist a thought, the more it remains. Have you heard of the pink elephant challenge in psychology/self-help industry?
For the next 30 seconds, think about anything that you want to think about. You can think about the most recent sports game, that funny viral video, a conversation you had with your best friend, or what you’re having for lunch (that’s probably what I’m thinking about). But whatever you do, DON’T think about a pink elephant. (Source: ElevateCounseling).
How many seconds did you last? It follows that the way to counter bad visualization is not with emptiness but with good visualization. Back to the lustful image of an attractive woman. Instead of trying hard not to think about it, change your focus to something else. Focus on your breath. Focus on the fully-clothed people in front of you. Focus on the consequences of irresponsible behavior. If you’re spiritual, visualize the power of God enabling you to overcome the thought. If you’re having trouble changing focus where you are, then you can go for a walk, meet up with your friends, or socialize with the people around you. Every individual is different, and no two visualization processes are the same. But the goal is to disrupt the subconscious program and rewire the way the mind responds to lustful stimuli.
What you focus on grows, what you ignore dies.
When we focus on lustful thoughts, they grow like grass in springtime. When we ignore them by bringing our focus to something else, they die like an ant under a microscope on a hot sunny day. Remember–you don’t need lust. People don’t just wake up one day with a lust problem. It’s the result of repeat compromise over an extended period of time. You didn’t need lust the first time you lusted, and you don’t need it today–you just think you do.
Try fantasizing about purity tonight. How does it feel respecting other human beings, being in control of your emotions and desires, and living with a clean conscience? The more you meditate on the other side of lust, the more lust loses its appeal and the more purity gains it.
I hope this article has illustrated two important truths 1-) Small things lead to big things, and 2-) The immaterial world is forever king of the material world. Chime in down below.
Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.Your Favorite Middle School Teacher