So much has been written on this subject, that even as I sit here thinking about how to position the information (thinking positively, of course!), that I doubt many will read past the opening title. Many, many studies and reams of data support the notion that optimists experience less stress, stronger immune systems, and overall better health than pessimists. Yet, in spite of all the writings, I find myself in a position now in my life journey where....at long last....this subject has entered into my mind, and taken up permanent residence.
What’s the Yogic angle? Well, Patanjali, our go-to yogic philosopher who lived a couple of thousand years ago, is concerned mainly with the emergence of the spiritual man as opposed to our psychic nature – with its moods and beliefs that act as veils, thus obstructing our true nature. We are like birds caught in a net.
In his own very brief way, Patanjali, has written the Yoga Sutras– threads of truths - in a strict and sequential order, and not to be taken out of place. As mentioned, they are very short, and are subject to interpretation – as are all great teachings. He realized that Yoga is a divine science which brings mankind on the path of positive thinking and a healthier body.
One of the great things about positive thinking, is that anyone can do it! No special equipment involved. And it’s FREE. Patanjali again “When bothered by distractions, opposing thoughts must be cultivated." (2.33)
"Cultivating opposing thoughts means realizing that distractions such as violence, greed etc, result only in pain and suffering." (2.34)
When beseeched by negative thoughts, it is very easy to give away our power to them. The more power we foist upon them, the faster they grow. They are like veritable weeds in our garden of life. The more watering they receive, the bigger they become. They can shove us right off the path to our enlightenment!
Cultivating equally strong thoughts has a positive impact of what Patanjali called contrary thinking. Pratipaksha Bhavana.
Here are some thoughts on how to take back our power:
The easiest way to fall into the negativity trap is by making yourself a victim. But on the flipside, to take responsibility for your own actions is to take charge of your own happiness. Remind yourself daily that although we may not be able to control what happens to us, we are always in charge of our reactions.
Getting into the habit of being kind and forgiving to others will help you extend the same courtesy to yourself. And when you're a friend to yourself, it's a whole lot easier to forgive yourself for your mistakes and cultivate a positive outlook for your future. And if you believe in karma, well, what goes around, come s around, right?!
Signing up for a weekly yoga class or committing to 10 minutes of meditation before bed each night can go a long way in helping you slow down your mind so that you can observe and recognize your thought patterns. Even just talking a walk in nature or reminding yourself to breathe deeply can help reset your brain and clear out unnecessary worries.
But.....Folks....Ya gotta practice!
“Mere philosophy will not satisfy us. We cannot reach the goal by mere words alone. Without practice, nothing can be achieved.”
— Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras