An excerpt from From Stress to Stillness by Gina Lake:
Our thoughts and feelings don’t belong to us. We didn’t put them there or create them. It would be more accurate to say that they belong to all of humanity. Thoughts and feelings come with being alive. They are part of the human animal, part of the body-mind that we operate through. We are not the body-mind or our thoughts and feelings but that which animates the body-mind and uses it as a vehicle to experience this glorious world of form. Yet, we are programmed to experience our thoughts and feelings as ours.
As part of this programming, there seems to be a person who is having a thought or a feeling, but where is that person? Is that person your body? Your mind? Your personality? Is that who you are? Who is having the thought or feeling? Who is this you that you think of as yourself? Where is it located?
When you look, you can’t find a person who is having a thought or feeling. Although thoughts and feelings are occurring in what you call your body-mind, there is no person having them. This person is illusory. There is no person, only an idea of a person. This illusory person is the false self, which is why it’s called false. It doesn’t actually exist. It exists only as an idea or a group of ideas about oneself. Who you think you are is only a set of ideas about who you think you are.
Thoughts and feelings arise in our body-mind out of nowhere. When they arise and we identify with them, we feel like they’re ours, like we came up with them. But we didn’t. They aren’t personal. They aren’t ours. With this recognition comes some freedom to choose not to believe these thoughts, which are often stressful, and so become free of the stress they cause.
To have a different relationship to our thoughts and feelings than the one we were programmed with, which is to believe our thoughts and feelings and to get our identity from them, we have to first see that our thoughts and feelings aren’t ours and do not define us. And then we have to keep remembering this in every moment. We’re talking about seeing through what is our deepest, most pervasive conditioning—the programming that causes us to feel separate, lacking, and in competition with life rather than at one with life.
When this programming is thoroughly seen through and no longer believed, we are not left with nothing. Moving beyond this programming moves us beyond our greatest limitation and the cause of suffering, and what we’re left with is joy, love, and the essence of our being. This programming is the only thing keeping us from the deeper happiness and loving nature of our true being. So when this programming is seen through, we’re left with everything we have ever wanted and stripped of everything we never needed but thought we did.
How can we be convinced that we don’t need the thoughts broadcasted by the egoic mind? This is no easy task, as the thoughts themselves lead us to believe we’ll be lost without them. The illusion of the false self is a tricky one! If the illusion weren’t a clever one, it would be seen through much more easily. But it’s not. The challenge is to stop trusting our egoic mind and begin to trust something else that is more subtle and yet much more real than thoughts.
Our true being is here living this life and always has been the only thing living this life, yet all the while, we have supposed ourselves to be someone or something else. We mistook the character and the roles we are playing for our true identity. But it’s time now for many of us to recognize that we are much more than this character and that our being has just allowed us to believe we were this character.
The way this ruse was perpetrated and is maintained was by programming us to believe that our thoughts were our thoughts. Believing these thoughts caused us to be a certain way in life; they caused us to respond and react in the various ways our character does: If our thoughts define us as a victim, we feel like a victim and behave like one. If our thoughts define us as incompetent, we feel incompetent, and that may be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If our thoughts say we have reason to be afraid, we feel afraid. If our thoughts push us to hurry and get a lot done, we do that and get stressed-out.
If we believe our thoughts, then they define us and determine our experience of life, how we feel, and what we do. We are, in many respects, a puppet to our conditioning, to our thoughts and feelings—when we believe them. When we are identified with them and believe them, we are at the mercy of them. They run the show.
If our thoughts were benevolent, wise, trustworthy, and good guides for how to live, then believing them would lead to a very different life than what our programming generally leads to. To discover the nature, truth, and value of this programming, just notice the results of following it in your own life, in other people’s lives, in our society, and in our world. If our programming were benevolent and wise, we would be happy, loving, and at peace, or at least more so, and there would be no need to seek greater peace.
From From Stress to Stillness: Tools for Inner Peace by Gina Lake. More information about the book and links to purchase are here:
Purchase From Stress to Stillness...
• How we create stress and how it affects the body
• How to live more fully in the now
• How to dis-identify with thoughts
• How to de-stress
• How to meditate and why
• Tips for quickly moving into Stillness
• How to change your lifestyle to reduce stress
“Finding Gina's writings was like finally receiving a glass of water after spending a day in the dessert. What is communicated through her writing speaks to a place within me that is beyond the stressed-out mind, a place of wholeness and truth.” –Issiah
“Better than Tolle. Gina Lake's work will help you wake up to your Self. The ego is a cruel tyrant, and Gina will help you come to grips. Eckhart Tolle started me on this path, but Lake turned on the lights.” –Miguel
“I'm a part-time registered nurse, and this is the best help for handling stress that I have ever experienced. Written in a way that is easy to understand and follow, all of Gina Lake's books have been excellent.” –Ken Raver
“This is my new textbook. The author guides you through a place from doing, judging, and being fearful to just being present in the moment, moving past the rush we all seem headed towards without enjoying the journey.” –John Shasteen
“I find all of Gina’s books and articles totally riveting. A joy is created in my being that is so full of gratitude, it wants the whole world to know. From this space of joy, I find the capacity to accept others as they are, completely. Thank you, Gina. What a blessing to be alive on the planet at the same time as you!” –Godsgirl
“In my lifetime of reading self-help books, no author has come close to Gina Lake in terms of simply and honestly pointing out a direct approach to overcoming negative and harmful thoughts and feelings. It just works. A truly transformative approach.” –J. Tyson
“A must for your spiritual library! Gina's words spoke to my soul, and I kept wanting to read more and more. Her knowledge and ability to communicate ideas are really the best I have read, and I have read all the gurus and teachers. A lot of books say this, but this book really can change your life!” –Dave Erickson
“This book is amazing. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, and it has helped me immensely. I can say it has definitely quieted my mind and allowed me to enjoy life a lot more. I used to think nonstop. I also felt very connected to my false self, which only brought on a lot of anxiety for me. This book has allowed me to discover my true self.” –Jo
“This book is more than techniques. It is the operating manual for humans. It describes our inner workings both before and after enlightenment. Buy this, read or listen to it, and experience a depth of information you wish you had years ago.” –Ira Cohen
“I have never been more thankful for a book in my entire life. This book is so inspiring and can truly be life changing. It has brought me a lot of peace and serenity along with a great understanding about how to control my anxiety. I will treasure this gem and will definitely be rereading it.” –C. Lewis
Surely when our parents said such things, they thought they were being helpful. But although their intentions may have been good, the result wasn’t. Now we carry their words and the way those words made us feel around with us, and whenever we make a mistake, the same shame and feelings of inadequacy come up as when we were young.
Mistakes are normal, kids are imperfect, adults are imperfect, but as children, we’re likely to have concluded that making mistakes means we’re bad, we won’t do well in life, and any number of other conclusions. It’s no wonder many of us are paralyzed by new situations and challenges: “What if I make a mistake? I’ll probably screw up as usual.” We may stop ourselves from going after what we want, trying and learning new things, developing our talents, growing, and having fun, all because we’re afraid of feelings those familiar feelings of failure from long ago. Parental criticism becomes self-criticism. We learned to do that perfectly!
There are a lot of things in life we don’t have a choice about—our gender, our parents, the environment we grew up in, our level of intelligence, our looks, our personality traits, and all of the rest of our conditioning, or programming. We are a soul that is in whatever package we are in. And yet, we often feel as if we are supposed to be different or as if we could be different, when we can’t be any different than we are. As humans, we invest much of our time and emotional energy in wishing we were different and in trying to be different than we are. However, the only thing that needs to be different for us to be happy is to accept the human package we were given and not take it personally if it isn’t what we would like it to be. It isn’t our fault that we appear as we appear or that we tend to respond the way we respond or that we suffer about whatever we suffer about. Somehow, deep inside, we feel that we shouldn’t be the way we are and we shouldn’t be flawed.
Everyone has this same sense of being flawed. Part of being human is feeling flawed, imperfect, less than. Those feelings seem to come with the package! The only way out of this dilemma of feeling like we should be different than we are is not becoming more perfect, according to our ideas of perfection, although it is certainly fine to improve ourselves and become better human beings. We can’t escape these feelings of imperfection by trying to become more perfect because there is no end to what we feel needs fixing, especially since we can’t escape aging and our ultimate demise.
There are facts and there are stories we tell about facts: Fact: He was late. Story: He was late because he doesn’t care. Facts create feelings only when you turn them into a story. Fact: I have x dollars in my bank account. Story: I have only x dollars in my bank account, and that should be different, and I’m scared I won’t have enough (in the future). Stories create feelings, and feelings drive actions and determine how we feel about life, ourselves, and others and where we put our energy. The ego is the aspect of ourselves that spins facts into stories, that holds particular beliefs, opinions, self-images, judgments, and desires. It is the programmed and conditioned aspect of ourselves. All stories, beliefs, and self-images belong to the ego and create the ego’s version of reality and the false self. Meanwhile, something else is here living, breathing, moving through life in a different way. It uses facts and the intellect, but it moves according to deeper drives and intentions that relate to the role we came here to play within the Whole.
The other most obvious difference is that getting what the ego wants brings only brief satisfaction and happiness, while getting what Essence wants brings deep happiness and fulfillment. You know when you are aligned with Essence’s intentions by feelings of excitement, joy, fulfillment, peace, relaxation, and contentment. These same feelings may be present when the ego gets what it wants, but they are more like a lower octave of the feelings that arise from Essence, and they don't last.