What are vain imaginings? I can’t give a definition. I’ve been trying to come up with one for some months now and what I find is that more and more of the contents in my mind seem to fall into that category. Currently, I would say that vain imaginings and idle fancies are thoughts that suggest that anyone, including one’s self, has any power or ability to influence what happens except God. What I have discovered from watching the stream of thoughts that flow through my mind is that unhelpful thoughts manifest in an almost endless variety of ways.
For me, unhelpful thoughts make their home in me in things like fear, shame, anxiety, depression, guilt, being wrong, memories of the past, being stuck in difficult situations, being overburdened by work and responsbilities, low self-esteem, feeling silenced, failing to meet expectations of oneself and others, and so on. For many years I have suffered from insomnia, which was brought on when I went through menopause and I could not control my body’s temperature. This resulted in poor sleeping patterns that lasted beyond menopause and became embedded. During the night when I could not sleep, unhelpful thoughts rooted in the issues listed above would dominate my mind. They took a hold of me and became the ruler of my mind. They never left me, even during the day. They become my reality in a way that I had not experienced before. This mental state manifested in my body as an autoimmune condition.
Over the past 18 months, I began to fight back by getting up out of bed when the thoughts began, saying prayers and working on writing my book. When tiredness came on, I would go back to bed and go to sleep. I got a lot of work done on the book! You could say that I am monetizing my insomnia. This new response to the problem empowered me to rise above it somewhat, instead of it dominating me. Also, by continuing to listen to Baha’u’llah’s messages to me, another voice was being inputted into my mind, which was the panacea to the unhelpful one. I am grateful to Laura Foster, who researched names that Baha’u’llah uses to refer to his followers in his writings. These names give the reader an entirely different sense who they are from the one that is created by unhelpful thoughts.
“Baha’u’llah calls us His children, siblings, friends, companions and servants (The Hidden Words). He calls us well-beloved ones (Tabernacle of Unity), the people of glory (Kitab-i-Aqdas) and His heirs (Book of the Covenant). He calls us nightingales, mystics, lovers and seekers (O Nightingales). He calls us luminous, heavenly birds (Tablet of the Immortal Youth). He calls us the mirrors of the names and attributes of God (Tablet of the Temple).”Laura Foster
I also listen regularly to the Long Healing Prayer, which tells me that “He is the Healer, the Sufficer, the Helper, the All-Forgiving, the All-Merciful.”
Consequently, I have learned a new technique for dealing with my insomnia. Now when the unhelpful thoughts begin and try to flood my mind, making sleep impossible, I carry out the following action in my mind. I adopt my full-on annoyed mother voice and bearing, point to the seat on my couch where I relax during the day, and I say to them “Sit down and be quiet”. I don’t try to destroy them because I know they will inevitably return. I give them my ‘comfy chair’, where they can sit and watch Netflix, look out the window or read a book, while I get some sleep. Seems to work! I can do this because I know from what Baha’u’llah has taught me that he is in charge of what happens, and that any thoughts to the contrary orginating from within me are idle imaginings. Nothing is going to happen unless Baha’u’llah gives it permission to happen and if he does, it will always be for my benefit. This is his unfailing promise, and he has the authority and fidelity to carry it through.