A Message to Remember: Mondays Mindful Quote with Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is a tradition on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog. Every Monday, I cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding. 

So today, I grab a quote from a man who “had a dream” lifted millions of people and whose inspiration is felt all over the world today. Dr. King Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

This reminds me of an earlier blog post I did which quoted Rumi saying:

“Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.”

On August 28, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. led a march on Washington to let us all know that he “had a dream”. In this dream he inspired hope, belief, and faith in millions of people. This level of hope no doubt inspired Barack Obama to believe that he indeed could be the first African American President of the United States.

The power of our minds and of belief may very well be one of the most awesome things in life. Henry Ford, father of the concept of assembly lines which so much of our system is currently built on said:

“Whether you believe, you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

We all have messages built into our heads from the youngest of ages that “we can’t.” If we’re at all lucky, we’ve had parents or a role model (like Dr. King) who have inspired us to say “we can.” Whether you believe in his politics or not, you can see that Barack Obama had to drive that message home over and over and over again in order for people to really believe, “Yes We Can.”

Here’s the rub, when we have deeply ingrained beliefs that we can’t either from childhood or from being depressed or anxious or maybe both, these negative thoughts seem so convincing. Even right now, if you’re in the depths of depression you may hear the thought, “I don’t know why I’m reading this, nothing is going to help” or “as if I could see any light or love, nobody loves me, I don’t even love myself.”

It’s sometimes not enough to just challenge our thoughts, we need something more. We need someone who is going to inspire us on a deeper level, emotionally, so we can face our pain (or keep our gaze on the bandaged place) and say, “I see that there is pain right now and I’ll care for it, I can do this.” Ultimately, even if we are inspired by a person outside of us, they are inspiring something within us that has been there all along.

So who was Dr. King inspired by? One of his influences what Mahatma Ghandi who said

“The only devils in the world are those running in our own hearts.”

In a recent interview, Therese Borchard, whose wonderful new book Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes addressed this quote and said:

This quote has been helpful regarding facing my fears. The earlier chapters of my book chronicle all of the disorders I experienced as a child and teenager-OCD, anorexia, substance abuse. I kept running away from the sadness and the depression, which would morph into these other illnesses. So when I finally sat tight long enough to feel the raw depression, that’s when I could begin to heal. As you know well, I think taking a moment of silence to pray or meditate or center ourselves everyday should be part of everyone’s treatment … because when we stop running, we are able to hear what we most need to be whole.

What have been your inspirations in life? Who have been your sources of “light?” As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on Psychcentral.com

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