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Examining The Mind

To Become Compassionate and Skilled Doctor to Our Own Minds!


Notice the Results of Your Choices—Your Motivation (seeds) àActionsà Results (effects)



Observe Habits Of Mind, Emotions And Actions (Your Choices) And Their Effects. Observe your intentional actions. Such actions leave imprints on your mind (seeds of a certain pattern of thinking) that influence what you will experience in the future.


Conclusion: Determine to observe your motivations and actions so you create the causes of happiness and avoid the causes of suffering.



Notice the Causes of Our Present Problems


Our unsatisfactory experience has causes—the disturbing attitudes and negative emotions in our mind. Have the aspiration for yourself:


   In all actions I will examine my mind

            And the moment a disturbing attitude or habit pattern arises,

            Endangering myself and others,


  1. Which is your strongest disturbing attitude—attachment/desire/craving, impatience, cynicism, pessimism, sadness, frustration, discouragement, all-or-nothing thinking, judgmental attitudes, anger, wrath, grudge holding, spite, jealousy, miserliness, agitation, lack of faith, pretension, lack of integrity, inconsideration for others, pride and lack of humility?


  1. What situations is it likely to arise in? Knowing this will help you to be more mindful especially in circumstances in which your buttons are likely to get pushed.


  1. What are the disadvantages of this disturbing attitude? What happens to you or your relationships with others when you are dominated by this inner attitude? Understanding this will give you energy to confront it. Remember times when a particular disturbing attitude caused problems to you and others.


  1. How else could you look at the situation so that this disturbing attitude doesn’t arise? Knowing this will help avert it. In your reflection time, visualize and think of options—to try out later.


  1. I will be aware of what’s going on in my mind – what I’m thinking and feeling – and by extension, I’ll be aware of what I’m saying and doing and notice my habitual attitudes and behaviors. Make examples of the following attitudes and emotions in your life.


For each one, consider:

·        How does it cause you problems now by unrealistically interpreting events in your life?

·        How does it bring about future unhappiness by making you create the cause for future problems?

·        What antidotes (new ways of thinking and acting) can you apply when it arises in your mind? Practice/visualize new ways in your reflection times. Then try them out in your daily life.

·        Which one of these is the strongest for you? Have an especially strong aspiration to be aware of and to counteract this one.


1.      Attachment: exaggerating or projecting good qualities and then clinging to the object.

2.      Anger: exaggerating or projecting bad qualities and then wishing to harm or get away from what makes us miserable.

3.      Pride: an inflated sense of self that makes us feel we are either the best or the worst of all.

4.      Ignorance: a lack of clarity regarding the nature of things and active misconceptions about the nature of reality of our choices and their effects.


  1. For example:
    1. Every time a negative emotion arises, instead of saying, “Anger. Welcome! You’re my friend. You’re going to stick up for me so that other people don’t take advantage of me,” we’re going to say, “Anger, you’re a thief. You steal my happiness. You steal my peace of mind! Get out of here!”
    2. It’s similar with attachment. Attachment comes into the mind and instead of saying “Oh, attachment, you’re going to make me happy,” we recognize, “Attachment, you’re setting me up for suffering. I’m not going to listen to your story!” These negative emotions endanger us because they make us create negative habits of mind, leading to future suffering. They endanger others because when we speak and act under their influence, we harm others. Consider that in our culture our conditioning tells us “excitement is happiness.” We have the “shopping mentality” habit—the habit of constantly seeking what is better than right here. Notice if that attitude produces a state of peace and contentment—in the now—for you. Would you benefit from changing it?
    3. When doubt comes into the mind, we often welcome it, “Doubt, come in. I’m so bored. Go ahead and amuse me. Let’s doubt this and let’s doubt that. Let’s challenge this. Let’s be suspicious of that.” Instead of welcoming doubt, we recognize it. “Doubt, you just play around and make my mind a mess! You make my mind race with all sorts of useless thoughts that tangle me up about things that aren’t important. So, get out of here!”

This is confronting the negative emotion or disturbing attitude. Then we must also avert it, that is, to apply the antidote (like for a poison).

·        For attachment, we meditate on impermanence and the ugly aspect of whatever we’re attached to.

·        For anger, we meditate on patience, perspective, acceptance and love.

·        For jealousy, we meditate on rejoicing over other people’s successes.

·        For doubt, we meditate on the breath and to calm our mind.


Following this process means, “I’m going to be a doctor to my own mind!”


Conclusion: Seeing the damage these disturbing attitudes and negative emotions cause in your life, develop the determination to be aware of their arising and to learn and practice the antidotes to them.


A personal example:  I was cleaning the garage (to be used to assemble cabinets) and kitchen in preparation for a partial kitchen remodel of our home.  I got up early before my companion and cleaned the garage. My companion had volunteered to help me, but I wanted to begin early. I had a compulsive mindset and when I finished cleaning the garage, I thought of going into the kitchen and starting there. I noticed that I was feeling like a martyr or victim, “Oh, poor me I have to do this alone.”  I felt like I wasn’t getting all of the help that I wanted—so my mind emphasized thoughts of separation, frustration, grudge holding and anger. I paused and tuned inside. I realized that this was an old pattern (being passive and not expressing what I want—and not allowing others to meet my needs according to their preferences—then stomping around and sighing and then doing everything myself). If I want my needs to be met I need to ask, to make a request—and really, my companion was willing to help—if I just asked. They could not read my mind! This pausing, tuning inward, thinking of options and trying them out really worked. As soon as I asked for help I received it and the kitchen was prepared for remodeling. My deeper unskillful mental patterns were also being remodeled too.


Remember, you are NOT your disturbing attitudes (although you have them)—they are patterns of thoughts and emotions—and CAN be changed. Give yourself credit for even being willing to look at this mental/emotional process.


Additional Antidotes to the Disturbing Attitudes

The Use of the 12-Step Programs, Recovery Groups, and Recovery Resources

To explore a wonderful LIFE self-evaluation resource for applying (exploring how to use each step) the 12 Steps--a BIG BOOK STUDY-- for overeating by Joe McQ & Charlie P. visit the Kelly Foundation at: 

For two PDF files that were adapted by Tom H. :

Taking these inventories and following the suggestions that are given brings emotional and mental freedom and an experience of inner healing.

             Copyright © 2001-2018 Bob Wilson BS, DTR  All Right Reserved. Articles are for personal use only. Please request permission for other uses. Thanks!