Peter’s new feeling of increased self-confidence was like a source of inspiration, and he found himself toying with the idea of removing further negative blockages from his mental repertoire. If he understood the message within Zan on Zen correctly, no-one’s character was “set in stone” and unalterable. The book was claiming that one’s mind could be molded by one’s own will. At first glance, this seemed an incredible, preposterous idea, similar to the age-old question, “Can one pull oneself up by one’s own bootstraps?” Peter recalled reading, however, that people are “in a continual state of becoming” and that an individual’s self-perception is transient in nature. This recollection added validity to his emerging plan.
Since his initial reading of ‘Zan on Zen: Saying “NO!” to negativity’, Peter had been intrigued by the Wi-Fi model used to represent transmission to and from the thought-cloud. The idea of green and red transmissions representing high-energy and low-energy thoughts made sense to Peter, and he understood the concept that dynamic systems tend towards a low energy state, unless acted upon to do otherwise. He also appreciated that the model presented in the book was a foundation upon which readers were free to experiment. This model was not presented as dogma; on the contrary, it claimed simply to be a hypothesis.
As an experiment, Peter brought to mind a negative thought pattern that had been troubling him lately. There had been a recent falling out between two of his friends, John and Roy, and try as he might, he had been unable to remain impartial. He realized that he had parted ways with impartiality the moment he had voiced agreement when Roy had criticized John. Peter had soon found, to his horror, that he and Roy were engaging in gossip about John. Although he had discontinued this practice, and made it clear to Roy that he no longer wished to criticize John, he often found John appearing in his thoughts, in a negative light. What was worse, these occurrences seemed to be increasing in frequency.
Applying a bit of creative license to the book’s theme, Peter imagined a green tinted filter, similar to that used in photography for attaching to camera lenses, located at the crown of his head. The purpose of the filter was to allow only green light into the transceiver, described in the book as being the means by which thoughts entered the mind from the cloud. Peter resolved that whenever thoughts of John entered his conscious mind, he would visualize this green filter in place, so that only positive thoughts of John would impinge on the thought Wi-Fi transceiver.
During his next relaxation session, as per the exercises in the book, Peter actively brought this friend to mind, and considered the good points of their friendship, before it had been distorted by his negative thinking. As intended, he visualized the green filter in place, with only positive thoughts about this friend being able to be received. He repeated the exercise often, over several days, both during relaxation and at odd times when his mind was free of things requiring its attention. He was amazed and delighted by the effectiveness of this exercise, and also filled with curiosity as to why it had worked so well.
Being a lifelong learner, Peter was in the habit of listening to self-help audio recordings while driving to and from work. On one of these recordings he had been fascinated by the narrator’s likening of the human mind to a garden. The message in the recording suggested that, unless we actively tend to our mental gardens, they will become choked with weeds. This had struck a chord with Peter, who could appreciate the simple analogy, and he instinctively sensed its validity. Being familiar with the contents of Zan on Zen however, he now viewed the weed encroachment as the action produced by the red Wi-Fi beam introducing negative thoughts to the mind. This was described in the book as being the low-energy, default state of thinking to which the mind would gravitate in the absence of guidance. The green Wi-Fi beam, on the other hand, represented the action of carrying out maintenance on this garden.
This new insight filled Peter with a sense of empowerment and control. Although he had contemplated the “garden” analogy in the past, it was simply as a convenient model for visualization. Now, however, he was equipped with a set of gardening tools, and the means of cultivating a vibrant, lush and healthy mental landscape. It was time to get to work.