We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; the travel far. ~ Swami Vivekananda
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. ~ The Buddha
What are the thoughts I wish to hold?
I cannot remember where I heard or read this statement, but it has motivated me in my commitment to a path of Self recovery. "Every action has its ancestor in a thought." When I think about where I am, what I am doing, and how my life has unfolded I can track my way backwards to an original thought or attitude. Knowing this, why do I persist in giving valuable air time to negative, self defeating and destructive thoughts?
Well ... old habits die hard.
I am learning to catch myself when in a cycle of negative thinking. I cannot always pull myself out, but I am able to remember nothing is permanent; the emotions that move through me in this moment will look and feel and be different later on. I also hang my hat on the idea that emotions are like weather patterns; always shifting, stalled perhaps, but ultimately changing. I had an A Ha moment this weekend when I realized I am living in a part of the country that experiences some pretty major weather patterns. I am learning on several levels the value of not attaching myself to how things are right now and when necessary, just to ride the storm out.
There are those days when I just need to live through the funk or the fog. I liken it to day 2 of a 3 day road trip: just driving, not arriving. But another powerful tool from yoga is a practice called Pratipaksha Bhavana and I am learning just how potent this seemingly simple teaching can be. Sutra ll:33 from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali reads "When presented with disquieting thoughts or feelings, cultivate an opposite, elevated attitude. This is Pratipaksha Bavana." (Nischala Joy Devi from The Secret Power of Yoga) When I cannot change my situation, then I can always choose to change my attitude. Swami Satchidananda counseled that one way to loosen the hold of any negative thought upon our minds is to consider its after effect. Of course, I have to catch myself thinking the thought first! Sometimes those pesky gremlins have crept up and before I know it, they have taken my mind over for their destructive dinner party and I am eagerly serving them food and drink.
journal page inspired by Faith Ringgold interview. text reads: I have to believe it, I have to want it, I have to trust it, I have to live it."
This past winter provided me with many opportunities to work with these practices. Feeling stuck and unmotivated, I grabbed hold of anything positive and energizing to help move me through the trough. For the new year, I created my To Do book which then morphed into my Goddess Workbook. I have been faithful writing out my weekly lists which really function "Things I Want to Remember To Do" lists rather than chores to be checked off as done. Often items have been moved from week to week to week and I am do not beat myself up about that. I just know things can get overlooked in the busyness of my day and my list is a way of keeping sight of my priorities.
Writing in my book this weekend, I decided to look at the first page which is where I have listed my major projects and dreams for the coming year. As I looked down the list, I was struck by how many of the items I had already begun, were fully established or in process of becoming. Out of 22 items (and I do add on to the list) 12 of them are in various stages of germination, rooting and flowering. Proof positive that while I might have felt stuck, things were moving.
So seeing the power of positive thinking, what are the thoughts I wish to cultivate in the soil of my mind today? Rather than new seeds, I believe I wish to recommit to intentions I have set forth already: to know as I am, I am enough; to live my life fearlessly, with a wide and open heart; to embrace all aspects of my life as opportunities for my growth; and to welcome myself as a work in progress and in process. With these attitudes in place, I can live life riding the winds rather than feeling battered and blown about by the storms that will inevitably pass by.
How do you monitor your self-talk? What kind of soil are you preparing for your seeds?
(where i am choosing to live ...)