Have you ever taken a moment to become aware of all the thoughts running through your head all day long? If you have, you will know that from the moment you open your eyes in the morning, thoughts come. And not only that, they come in great numbers. When we still lie in bed we think about whether we can close our eyes for another five minutes, or whether we really have to get up now. We go through all the things on our to-do list and before we have even brushed our teeth, we are already in the office or thinking about dinner appointments. As you freeze-frame right here, you will see that our mind spends a lot of time rambling on like a radio without an off-button.
Unfortunately a lot of our thoughts are spent on criticism. Since one of the minds main attributes is being discriminative, it’s perpetually debating the pro’s and con’s of situations, the good and bad in people, and the positive and negative of yourself, whether psychically, emotionally or mentally. And as it happens, often the negative side weighs heaviest. How often do you say to yourself, without really being aware of it even,: “I can’t do this”, “I will never find the one” or “I am not pretty enough” or whatever other negative mantra’s you might be repeating inside your own head? A lot of us recite negative mantra’s silently or even out loud, and often we have been repeating these ideas for so long that they have become a part of us. We identify with them. When you really think about it, what are the chances of someone loosing weight if they keep saying ‘I’ll never be slim’? You’ll probably find that when your inner mantra’s work against you, when they define the exact opposite of what you truly desire or what you are, then you are sending out mixed signals into the world. You’ll probably find that someone who keeps repeating that they always end up in a bad relationship, always do end up in a bad relationship. As you can see there is a clear relationship between our thoughts, our projections and our reality, our life. But as simple as it may seem to understand this, it quite another thing to tame the monkey mind that runs and jumps wildly from thought to thought.
Winding down and assessing
The first thing to do is taking some quiet me-time, relaxing physically, emotionally and mentally. Making sure that you surround yourself with soothing, calming scents, colors and sounds. We often underestimate the influence of the dynamic multitude of stimuli to our senses and our brain. That means, even though watching a movie might feel relaxing, it actually stimulates your mind, giving your brain yet another impulse to debate, to criticize, to have an opinion about. That’s why it’s important to try to really create an environment that is serene and quiet. Take a moment to deliberately be aware of your thoughts. The first time you try this you could be surprised by the speed and the number of thoughts that occur. It might seem that you have even more thoughts than you normally do, but you don’t. It’s just that normally you are not aware of your thoughts. So don’t be distressed if you feel a bit overwhelmed by your mind’s ramblings. As you sit or lie down, try to let your thoughts come, with judging them, without discussing them internally. Try to see whether you can just watch them, as if you were watching a movie screen. Soon enough you will become of aware of repeating thoughts. You will begin to understand your thought patterns. A very handy technique for assessing your thoughts is writing them down as they come. Important is to write them without censorship. You’ll be cheating yourself if you do and then the whole exercise is purposeless anyway.
Shifting your focus
When you have observed your thoughts, you will have seen that a lot of time and energy is spent on negative feelings, negative thoughts and negative actions. Actually, we spend much more time cultivating what we don’t want in our life, than what we DO want in our lives. For example, to a negative mind the focus will be on how much you detest your job, how much you can’t stand your boss, how your colleagues are stupid, instead of focusing on a positive solution. A positive mind knows that the universe constantly provides us with opportunities and that whenever the time is right you will be presented with options that will add to your happiness. When you are focused on the negative you often miss the opportunities because you don’t expect them to begin with.
Once you have a clear picture of what is going on in your mind, you’ll be able to start adjusting the mind. A very good start is to try and practice awareness. And every time you catch yourself starting to repeat your negative manta’s you replace the thought with a positive one. This is a yogic practice which is called pratipaksha bhavanam. This method allows us to choose consciously to cultivate thoughts and concepts that serve us. Don’t get discouraged if you are not able to catch all your negative thoughts. This is a process that takes time. Just remember that your negative thought patterns have had probably years to settle into your subconscious mind. Also, important to know is that, you start a process that will be new to your brain, to your way of thinking, to your way of life. Often times our system starts rebelling a bit. Sometimes, our thoughts try to turn up their volume so that we start paying more attention to them. The trick here is to not take it very seriously when this happens. Use your mind’s focus to turn down the volume. Mediation helps to soothe and calm the mind.
Planting the seeds of happiness
Actually meditation is a very fertile soil in which to plant the seeds of the things you would like to change in your life. You can use visualization techniques to project anything you like really. You can use your inner eye to see how you are successful, loved, creative, calm, healthy, prosperous, strong or whatever else it is that you feel is lacking in your life right now. When the mind begins to tell you that these techniques don’t work, don’t be fooled. The opposite was confirmed to be true, remember? Changing the way you think is very essential to a happy and fulfilling life, because we cannot control life. Life happens. Trust that the universe has the best intentions with us. It is fear that leads us to the dark side within us. Fear of the unknown, fear of pain, fear of loneliness, fear of not being loved. Changing the way you think by expecting good, rather than bad. Being confident about yourself, learning to trust your own intuition and by using your mind as a tool to help you project and manifest the right ingredients for a satisfying and happy life.
“Your thoughts are a very valuable currency which is best spent on ideas that add to your happiness’