Today we will talk about positive thinking. Choose from the words written on the board. Which negative emotions would you like to eradicate? Fear, procrastination, tired, anxiety, jealousy, attachment, brooding. I would say fear and anxiety, anxiety is also fear but you don’t know what you are afraid of. Fear is stronger so you know what it is. Anxiety is fear but you don’t know why.
Frustration and resentment are both form of anger. Indecisiveness and procrastination are one. It is a difficulty to take decision and to act upon on what you decide about. When you have too many things that pull in different directions you don’t know what to do. Jealousy is a distorted form of love. It has some form of attachment behind. Brooding is also a form of attachment to the past so you cannot move on.
Know the nature of the thoughts
When you deal with something you need to know the nature of the negative thought, because you deal with anger and fear differently. You have to know how serious it is. You can judge how serious it is depending on how frequent the thought comes into your mind. When you know the nature of the negative thoughts you have to define it very well.
Anxiety and worry is a form of fear that is not very well defined and it eats you from inside. We know that fear comes from attachment to something so you are afraid that you would lose it and you will be anxious about it without reason. You know that anger comes from desire. If you have not desires and you are not attached to any desire you are not going to be angry. Then you have expectations that something will happen and when it does not happen you become upset or you resent it.
Resent it means you are angry inside, underneath and that takes your energy away. Frustration is anger. You can be frustrated at your computer, at your dog, etc. But in general it is a form of anger. Your mind is contradicted. Jealousy is not understanding your own karma and how long it takes to be worked on. Tiredness is of the quality of tamas. It can come from lack of enthusiasm. That means you don’t have a goal in mind of what you want to achieve. If you are an overachiever then you also drive your energy out. Sometimes your inner thoughts are contradicting each other. That makes you tire also. You need to narrow down your goals and take one step at a time. Then you feel like you can do it and then there is an energy behind that helps you achieve the small things.
Tools for the toolbox
1. Oppose the negative thought with a positive thought.
There are a few things that you can try. Number one you identify what it is. Always you have to be aware that this negative thought is eating you up. One is you oppose the thought. You replace the thought with an opposite thought.
- If you have fear you replace it with courage. Think I can make it. I will be fine.
- With anxiety you replace it with every thing is fine, nothing to worry about.
- Attachment you replace it detachment.
- Resentment and anger are replaced by contentment. Anger comes from desires so you drop the desire and keep whatever you have which is the contentment and feel grateful for what you have. Turn it around completely.
- Brooding is replaced by letting go. Brooding means attachment of the past. It is an emotional resentment of the change.
- Tiredness is replaced by energy. Tell yourself that you are full of energy and can do anything.
- Indecisiveness is replaced by I know. I take a decision and offer it to God. It means I take a decision I might be right or wrong it doesn’t matter but I offer it to God. It comes from fear of making a mistake.
- Procrastination is opposed by first taking a decision because it comes from too much thinking and not too much action. It comes from tamas.
- Jealousy is replaced by accepting.
- Dreaming is replaced by being grounded. Dreaming means the emotional dreaming mind is stronger than the intellectual mind so it brings you into some kind of dreaming state but if you are going to have the mind very logical also there you can have some creating idea but also some practical ideas and the two balance each other and you are not just thinking or acting without thinking.
Why do we need to replace the negative thoughts?
Negative thoughts have to be replaced because otherwise they just pull you down into a tamasic state of mind. You have to come to the conclusion that negative thoughts are useless in your life. If you don’t get rid of them right away they would add up and will become aggravated and will get worse. The way the mind works is when you indulge in something it wants more. Do you want to be the one that controls the mind or do you want the mind to control you? If you are the one that controls the mind then you know what you have to do.
This is only one way. Lets say you oppose it. You are grieving and you oppose it with joy. There will be a tag of war between the two thoughts but just the fact that you try to think you are joyful and contradict the grieving thought already the sadness is not that serious. It can be alleviated. But if you don’t know anything the thoughts of sadness will escalate. It is not that easy. This technique of opposing works very well but it takes a strong character to be able to do it.
2. Be indifferent.
Be indifferent means the negative thought is there and you are aware of it. It is not like repressing it and denying it. You are aware of it and then you are indifferent to it. That means you don’t buy into it. You don’t let the energy wave affect you. For example when somebody in your family dies that is very closed to you. What do you do? You will see a comedy as a strategy to manage it. You feel up your mind with these positive thoughts and then when you look at the problem it is already passed and you can act properly. Being indifferent is a thought of meditation when the thought comes in your mind you let it go and bring yourself back to focus. Look at things through the corner of your mind. You don’t stop living completely when your problem has not been resolved. It is better to let it go. Do not say I am sad. Say instead, there is sadness in my mind and so on.
Sublimation means you are not really expressing neither repressing. You are channeling, transforming the energy. Suppression means it doesn’t exist. Expression means this is it and fall right into it. Sublimation means you would keep doing something positive and the negative energy will be transformed. For example you are sad because nobody loves you or you lose your love, then you go and sing love songs. You love Krishna, love Radha, Radha loves Krishna. That love idea will come to you and your problem about love will disappear. Lets say you have problem with work and you think my job is unfilled and I wish I could do that other job. Then you do karma yoga. Karma yoga is sublimation of work. Sublimation is a transformation of energy.
It means you are going to visualize yourself to be who you want to become, because if you don’t have it in your mind you cannot do it. For example if you would like to be a joyful sweet person, you would have to visualize yourself being that already. Or visualize somebody that has these qualities that you seek. You need to change the negative visualization about yourself that you have in your mind. When you see the negative thoughts that attack your mind then you replace them with the opposite and also visualize yourself being for example a dynamic person, or a very calm and detached and open person. You visualize yourself accepting responsibilities and being happy about it. You visualize yourself not careless but free from fear and anxiety. That is the power of visualization.
The way the mind works is with visual image and with words. You need to use words in order to help you. Write down how you feel and then take the words and reconstruct the words contradicting with affirmations like, I am becoming better and better everyday in every way. That is Swami Sivananda’s formula. It is very good because we are all the time progressing but we don’t know it. Also, we are all the time regretting, comparing, and all the time putting our selves down. So we need to affirm, I am becoming better everyday in every way. So affirm positive thoughts and repeat them like medicine. Three doses in the morning, three doses afternoon and three doses in the evening.
It means make life simple. You become negative when you try to do too many things. Keep it simple. Have one goal and do it. That is enough. Reduce your desires and your needs. For example if you want three cars, have only one.
Concentration is to focus, keep your life focused. Do not let your mind wonder and dream. Keep yourself busy. You need to build the muscle of the mind by concentration, otherwise the mind wonders and you become weak. Repeating a mantra keeps the mind focused and keeps it healthy. It is a good way to exercise the mind and so the negative thoughts cannot enter. You want to change but you want to change too many things at the same time and then you get discouraged and stressed out. Just do one thought at a time and that is enough and relax. If you can change one thought a day that is plenty good.
Cheerfulness, sense of humor. That is another tool for your toolbox. There is nothing very serious. When you can laugh about things then everything is fine. You still have to sympathize with people that are suffering but inside yourself keep it light because if you don’t you are going to dramatize it then it doesn’t help and you get pulled down with everybody else. Take it light and you might have a chance to look at it properly.
9. Cultivate a virtue.
Cultivating a virtue is making the mind strong. Do not wait till the carpet is pulled from underneath your feet to cultivate a virtue. For example, love, compassion, generosity. You can cultivate one virtue each day of the week, and every month. What you think about is what you become. If you think patience is important think about it for a week. You make your list and focus on something. You can do it like this. Monday is the day of Siva, the moon and you say detachment. Tuesday the day of Mars, action then you say energy, dynamism. Wednesday the day of Krishna, love compassion. Thursday the day of the guru, wisdom, generosity. Friday Venus, contentment, discipline, devotion. Saturday organize, discipline, patience. Sunday health, giving.
You can put in your toolbox some sentences as thought formulas from the classical yoga school that will help you. For Karma Yoga you say I am just the instrument. I am doing my duty and I give up the results. That means I offer my results. I do my duty and I do the best I can. That will help you not to get aggravated by criticism or praise.
Another sentence is for the Bhakti (Devotion) Yoga you can say everything happens all the time for the best. God knows best. I surrender to God’s will. It is not my will. It is thy will. I surrender. These sentences are useful when the negativity accumulates and you feel hopeless. At that time you just surrender. Another one is from the school Jnana (Wisdom, Knowledge) Yoga. I am just a silence witness. It is just like a play. I am just an actor. This too shall pass. You can also say this is not it, (nety, nety). This frustration is not me. It is not real. It is only a by product of my own illusion and perception. You deny it and reject it so what is real can have a chance.
OM OM OM
© Swami Sitaramananda 2014 No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.