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September 12, 2014

Pollute Our Thoughts, Pollute the World. ~ Chelsey Engel

sad face plate

“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the world.”  ~ Marcus Aurelius

The other day I was flipping through an astrological report personalized to my birth sign, and in the health and fitness section, it suggested I read a book by Dr. Masaru Emoto titled The Hidden Messages in Water. Emoto, in a nutshell, is an author and entrepreneur who believes that the human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water.

Conversations with friends and co-workers about the theory, after finishing up the book, ranged from complete dismissal and hilarity to minor intrigue and curiosity. I must say there are details in the piece that I can’t attach myself to entirely either, but all in all, the ideas he presents strike a chord in me for the greater philosophical messages they carry.

This is because Emoto’s theory hits the nail on the head of what most Buddhist leaders and authors I follow always speak of, and that is how what we think and how we treat ourselves will manifest into what the world gives us.

In short, what we put out into the world is what we will receive, for better or for worse.

The scientific finding behind Emoto’s claim is that positive messages, words (such as “love” and “gratitude”), and music, as well as blessings and prayers, create more beautiful, vibrant, and intricate ice crystal formations, whereas negative messages or exposures (such as the phrase “You fool” or heavy metal music) generate dull, listless formations.

He compared this discovery to the ice crystals found when looking at natural, spring water, whose formations matched those exposed to positive messages, and distilled water, as well as polluted water, whose makeup matched that exposed to negative messages.

Science aside, the implication I interpreted is this: just like our mindless, reckless actions cause pollution of the environment, our damaging, unconstructive thoughts pollute our minds and consequently, pollute the world.

No, I can’t exactly wrap my head around the actual scientific findings, but after tossing the message around in my brain, I began to think about the larger picture, and it gave me a way to view the karmic aspect of our thoughts and actions.

We, as humans, are the ones who create the universe and allow it to be in whatever condition it is. If we are constantly belittling ourselves for not being good enough, then that is how others will treat us. If we are always harping on our hearts for always being trampled on, then those experiences will continue. If we relentlessly believe everyone is innately evil or contemptible, then those are the people to whom we will recurrently be exposed.

This phenomenon has most definitely played itself out in my own life.

For example, I’ve always been lacking in self-confidence. I never thought I deserved love, and I allowed myself to be a doormat for others to stomp on in order to make themselves feel better. I was denying my own value, and as a result, the treatment I was receiving was not the most affirmative or courteous.

It wasn’t until I reached my breaking point and fell flat on my face that I chose to put myself and my health (sanity included) first and live my life fully. I started doing the dirty work, cleaning out the polluted spaces in my mind and substituting the contamination with less soiled and more pure elements.

In order to do this, I had to learn to be kind, not just to others, but to my own heart. Like Shambhala Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön says, “Staying in pain without loving-kindness is just warfare.”

Realizing I had been declaring war on my own soul for years, I had to see and do things differently.

I began to use my yoga practice as a means of reflection and healing, and whenever self-deprecating thoughts popped into my brain, I observed them and how they felt in my body. I then allowed them to tenderly dissipate as opposed to hating myself for having them and clinging to them for dear life.

Treating myself in the positive manner in which I would treat others naturally created the opposite, yet complementary, spectacle—people, and the world, began to interact with me in a much more honest, gentle, and progressive way.

Supportive and similar folks were sprouting up from all sorts of places in my life, and my relationships with them, as well as my old ones, began to change for the better.

So with this, Emoto’s claims are pretty obvious. If we radiate positivity and kindness to all beings, ourselves and the environment included, then the world will start to experience more of those encouraging sentiments, and this planet would be a much more habitable and peaceful one.

But it all starts within our own minds and with our treatment of ourselves.

We must break down the barriers we erect that we use as a defense mechanism, and we must begin to clean up the mess, shake off the dust (I stole that mantra from a yoga teacher), and nurture the tainted parts of our souls that we’ve probably neglected for longer than we’d like to admit.

Peace comes from within, and until we remember that and act to implement it, the world will continue to suffer. But I believe we can all do it, and I believe that through gentleness and honesty, we can soon see beautiful, intricate formations deep inside the structure of our society.

~

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Chelsey Engel

Chelsey Engel is a soul/blues musician in Pittsburgh, Pa., who also works full-time in communications. She has recently developed a deep relationship with yoga and tater tots. She first entered the world of Buddhism in her senior year of college when she, like most soon-to-be graduates, experienced an existential crisis. You can find her online at www.chelseynicolemusic.com or on Twitter via @chelseynicolenv.