At a recent talk at Influence, a multi-generational woman’s group at Liberty Evangelical Free Church in Pella, Iowa, we explored the idea of renewing our minds. Is it possible? The Bible says it is. So does science.
It start with choosing what we are going to think about. Yes, you can choose your thoughts. And what you choose will be obvious in your words and your actions.
Just as you learn to play an instrument or shoot a basketball through regular practice, you can teach your brain to follow a healthy, rather than fear-based, path by practicing the thought-process you want it to follow.
Are you willing to spend 15 minutes per day for a month to try it? Once you see how it works, you will want to keep going for two more months to cement this pathway firmly in your brain.
Schedule 15 minutes per day. Get a notebook. Be there.
Try it for a month. Cement the pathway with 2 more monthly sessions.
Pattern your prayer after the Psalms. The authors often begin with themselves and their problems, move to remembering and praising God for what He has done for them, and end up in worshiping an awesome, all-powerful, loving God who is so much bigger than we can understand. You can also reverse this order, but your prayer should contain all three themes: yourself, you and God, God.
Quiet your mind and listen for the Holy Spirit’s message for you. He’s waiting for you. The Holy Spirit speaks to all of us, but in a way that is special to each one. Some of us may see a picture, or a number, or a text. Others hear a voice, feel a push toward something, or just experience a “feeling.” Sometimes a person, a thought, an urgency pops into our heads, and we don’t know where it’s from. Stop and ask, “Holy Spirit, is this from you?”
It’s not up to you to fill this quiet space—trying to do so may block the Holy Spirit’s voice. You may find it helpful to do some repetitive movements before settling into a comfortable position. Take several deeps breaths and release them slowly, and then drift. If a part of your body remains tense, wiggle it slowly and return to relaxation. If your brain starts to move into a to-do list or frustration, focus on your breathing to stop it or use a breath prayer. Here are two examples: inhale “God’s air in my lungs” and exhale “His voice in my mind” or inhale “Son of the Living God,” exhale “have mercy on me, a sinner.”
This takes practice, and there are days we won’t hear anything we recognize. This is not a failure, it is practice. Move on to the next step.
You don’t have to have a plan of what to write before you start. If there’s nothing in your mind, start writing anything. “I don’t have any idea what to write.” “My name is ____ and I am ____.” “Lord, I don’t know if you are talking to me at all…” You could draw a picture of something specific or scribble on the page. Put the pen to paper.
Just write. There is not right or wrong. It’s not a book, but only a paragraph or two. It’s not complete sentences or correct spelling or grammar or a profound thought. It’s the practice of writing, and this too will become easier with practice.
Review, Prepare, and Practice New Thoughts
Select a positive thought to counter a negative flow of thoughts in your brain. What you choose is also a personal preference and dependent on what you heard during quiet listening and writing. If God brought something to your mind, focus on forming a new thought in that area.
Remember, don’t wait for a negative thought to come to your mind. Instead, practice and chart out a positive alternative path in your brain. By repetitively focusing on a positive you will make it stronger (and vice versa). So select an alternative thought to your negative—one that is positive and God-inspired—and practice it seven times every day.
Dr. Caroline Leaf developed an online app that leads you in a similar way through developing a new, healthy mind. you can find it at: www.21daybraindetox.com