The mind is a tool, just like the hand. The hand isn’t you; the mind isn’t you. But you can control both of them.
I have a dumb joke that I used to subject friends to. I would say, “Watch me levitate that glass of water, using only my mind… through my hand.” And I would raise the glass of water with my hand. At best, it got a sympathetic smile, and I dropped it from my repertoire of bad table jokes, along with my “I am full of helium” routine.
But, it really is true that I can control my hand with my mind. I also have a measure of control over my mind. This is the challenge for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder: mind control.
How do you go from helplessness in the torrent of unwanted thoughts that plague your every waking hour to peace of mind? For me, it happened through affirmations, meditations and surrender.
I can be what I will to be. This is the central affirmation from Charles F. Haanel’s The Master Key System, first published in 1912. In order to throw off the shackles of OCD, you must believe yourself, not your OCD, to be in control. This firm believe can be fostered through repetition of the affirmation, “I can be what I will to be.” Take a deep breath, think, I can be what I will to be, and I will to be free of OCD. If you will it to be so, it will be so. It may take a long time, and there may be reverses of fortune along the way, but I was able to will myself to be free of OCD after a lifetime of helpless suffering.
People have asked me if meditation is always good for someone with OCD. The answer is an unequivocal yes. Meditation is good for everybody. If you think you can’t meditate, then make it your goal to meditate for three seconds at a stretch. Can you do that? Start with a meditation that lasts as long as one deep breath.
When you’ve mastered paying attention to one inhale and exhale, pause after the exhale and clear your mind of thought. You can keep your eyes open and focus on an object if you wish, or just close them. Allow any thoughts while you inhale, but for that brief period after the exhale, try to be free of thought. There: you controlled your mind. See if you can do it for more than one breath in a row. It’s a beginning, but it is valuable…