“Stay present. Stay conscious. Be the ever-alert guardian of your inner space.” ~Eckhart Tolle
It was approximately 1:20 pm on a sunny Thursday afternoon, and I was halfway through my presentation at a high school, when I was interrupted by a loud automated female voice blowing through the intercom speakers.
“Please secure your classroom. Please secure your classroom,” it said.
I was extremely alarmed but mainly confused. I looked at the instructor for direction. His face had turned bright red and it was obvious he was holding back panic. He dashed to the front of the classroom to lock the door and turn off the lights.
“Please secure your classroom. Please secure your classroom,” the robotic voice continued to blare out.
In an authoritative voice, the instructor asked everyone to move to the right side of the classroom, away from the door, find a desk, and sit under it in silence.
I didn’t budge. I was waiting for him to explain to me that this was a routine drill the school had scheduled and that there was nothing to worry about.
The explanation never came. I did, however, get a stern look signaling me to follow directions.
I found a spot near the teacher’s desk next to a boy who seemed to be frozen in fear. As I was beginning to wonder how serious the situation could be, my thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a group of students snickering and whispering.
I turned to look at the teacher, who had gotten up from his hiding spot and looked extremely angry. In a loud, terrified whisper he said, “We could be on lockdown for up to four hours, and it’s very important that you don’t make a sound!”
I tried to keep my cool, but after twenty minutes of dreadful silence, fear began to creep in. Could this be one of those shootings I’ve see on the news? What could possibly be happening out there? I’m in a prestigious neighborhood; could something really awful happen in a place like this?
A million thoughts were bombarding my head when my mind flashed back to the speech I was just presenting before the lockdown.
I had just been discussing details and examples from my own life to paint a picture of how persistent negative thoughts can lead to intense emotions. If left unresolved, those feelings can bubble up inside us and eventually cause us to burst emotionally.
To illustrate this further, I had used a Coke bottle to prove my point.
I had shaken the bottle for a few seconds, each shake representing one of life’s challenge. Then I opened the bottle, to represent our inability to hoard an overwhelming collection of negative, fearful thoughts. And of course, the soda explosion symbolized our emotional burst, caused by not properly dealing with the war zone within.
My mind raced back to the present moment. If there did happen to be a gunman walking the school hallways, that person probably had a lot of negative thoughts and emotions they had not dealt with properly, which led up to this particular event.
More than likely, he/she was not a happy person who woke up that day and just randomly decided to participate in such atrocity. A series of harmful thoughts and emotions had led them to potentially hurt innocent people.
This is why it’s crucial to recognize and challenge harmful thoughts, and get help if we need it, I thought to myself.
Our thoughts inspire our perspective, and our perspective is the number one indicator of how happy and peaceful we will feel in our lives.
Our perspective determines how successful we will be, how happy our marriages are, and how much love and connection we feel toward ourselves. Our perspective is everything.
Although not everyone’s boiling point will lead them to cause mass pain, it can be extremely detrimental to their own life.
Not everyone will decide to terrorize a school, a movie theatre, or a mall. Perhaps not all emotional explosions will lead to suicide or self-harm, but they can all lead to adverse circumstances.
The negative voice in our head can drive us to give up on losing weight or never achieve the financial freedom we crave. It can cause us to feel eternally stuck in a bad situation in life, or feel chronically unhappy and stressed.
We regain our power when we realize the answer lies within ourselves.
Becoming the ever-alert guardian of our mind is what will carry us forward.
This means monitoring our thoughts and only accepting ideas and beliefs that align with strength, love, and grace. It means accepting that things don’t always go the way we hoped, but faithfully knowing that there is a better plan in store for our future.
To change our reality we must first change our mind. We must consistently, concisely, and deliberately choose an empowering perspective. Then, and only then, will we begin to live a life fascinating beyond belief.
As these thoughts poured into my brain I heard the instructor say that the lockdown had been lifted and we could all go back to the presentation.
It turned out that the police were looking for a man who was on the run after committing a crime in the area, and to take extra precaution they asked that the school go on a secure lockdown.
Thankfully, I had not been part of a ghastly school shooting, but that didn’t stop me from coming out from underneath the desk completely transformed.
This experience had given my work a lot more meaning and value than I had previously placed on it.
Sitting under a desk in that dark classroom, anticipating an emotional explosion, took the words of my presentation to another level because it gave me a glimpse of what an unguarded mind can lead a person to do.
Our thoughts are the precursor to everything else we experience. We must guard them with our life.
Exploding head image via Shutterstock