Shepherd Your Thoughts

Have you ever watched sheepdog trials? What an amazing display of energy work! Last weekend I had the pleasure of watching the Sheep Dog Championship competition not too far from my home.

These amazing dogs herd 16 sheep over a mountainside through various gates; grouping, splitting and regrouping them; working them into pens; with just their handler’s whistles to guide them through the course.

Bill Berhow’s stunning border collie, Pete, moved me to tears with his sheep-management finesse. (Seriously, my eyes welled up!) He applied the perfect amount of “pressure” – running this way to push sheep there, easing off to let them relax, approaching in a crouch to shift their direction, with no contact or barking. What a Master of energy work! While watching, I realized our thoughts are like these sheep.
They’ll run rampant all over the mountain if left to their own devices. But get a good dog in there and you can guide them anywhere. It’s not a matter of manhandling them into submission, but rather working with them instead of against.Watching dogs and handlers trying to accurately direct wayward sheep is frustrating. Their patience must be enormous! I’m sure I would resort to shouting and physical prodding, but Pete expertly herds without upset. Too much pressure and they run outside course boundaries. Not enough and they won’t move at all.

Our thought process is similar: some of us try to rein in our thoughts with an iron grip, intent on thinking only positive things, beating ourselves up each time we fail. Others apply no effort whatsoever in guiding their thoughts, which run willy nilly throughout the day wherever they happen to land; listening to this co-worker’s problems, that client’s complaints, frustrated with afternoon traffic, then watching discouraging news.

And what have you manifested? More of the same. Directing our thoughts is crucial work as deliberate creators – otherwise we’re just mindlessly subject to whatever we happen to observe in our reality. Which is what we create more of.

At the same time, we don’t want to create waves of resistance by trying to force ourselves to go somewhere our minds aren’t ready to. A gentle guiding is much more effective.

How can we become masters of energy like Pete? Wouldn’t it be cool to steer our thoughts in the direction of what we want as easily as these sheepdogs herd sheep?

Well, we can. The same way they did: with training, discipline, and direction.

  • April 1, 2007