You don’t have to be brain injured to feel unhappy about life from time to time. And you don’t have to be a speech therapist to understand how unhappy speech originates as a result of brain activity: what you say is a reflection of what is going on in your mind. But because I’ve expressed unhappiness and because I decided to become a speech-language pathologist (SLP) to understand the science behind inappropriate thoughts and words, I’ve enjoyed a unique unfolding of happiness through the practice of mindfulness.
Mindfulness practitioners understand that mindless thinking leads to unhappiness. Who hasn’t been lost in sad and anxious thoughts, usually unbidden, about past regrets, future fears, and desires to have more possessions or power. It’s your mind, your brain, that’s continually telling you what to do and say and feel. “Satisfaction comes from the mind,” said Lama Thubten Yeshe (1999). “Become your own therapist.”
“Just understand your mind; how it works, how attachment and desire arise, how ignorance arises, and where emotions come from. It is sufficient to know the nature of all that; that alone can bring you happiness and peace.”
Whether you have a brain injury or not, you can exercise control over your mind. As a brain-injured SLP, I know that we must work a little harder to control our minds (and I am not willing to go cold-turkey on anti-depressants). But I’ve learned that essentially, SLPs offer their clients the knowledge they need to overcome the tyranny of the mind and be happy. And I have become my own therapist.
Pause. Examine your thoughts. Realize that your thoughts are just thoughts. Breath. Be present. Then act mindfully with intention.
Free yourself from the unhappiness of mindless rumination. It’s possible with practice.
Best wishes for a happy new year from my heart to yours.
May I be peaceful and light in my body and mind.
May I be safe and free from accidents.
May I be free from anger, unwholesome states of mind, fear and worries.
May I know how to look at myself with eyes of understanding and love.
May I be able to recognize and touch the seeds of happiness.
May I learn how to nourish myself with joy each day.
May I be able to live fresh, solid and free.
May I not fall into the state of indifference and be caught in the extremes of attachment and aversion.
From a dharma talk, Practices for the New Year, by Thich Nhat Hanh