No Negative Thoughts – July 28 2019

No Negative Thoughts – July 28 2019

Make it a point in your life: Let there be no negative thought in the mind. If you really want peace of mind, don’t ever harbor any negative thought even if it be true. It does not matter whether it is true or not, there is no place in your mind for any negative thoughts. 

Meditation as Spiritual Culmination: Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali, by Swami Sarvagatananda

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is a set of instructions for seeking union with Totality, or Higher Self. Much of the instruction has to do with controlling the mind. It speaks about lessening the upsets of the surface of the mind so that we may see the deeper Truth that lies beneath. Like a clearwater lake stirred up by a storm, we must wait for the waves and the sediment to settle before being able to see the bottom of the lake.

According to the Yoga Sutras, negative thinking is one of the biggest upsets for the mind. Yet our culture actually teaches us to spend time thinking about the negative, and in areas where we have no control. The actions of others, the movement of the stock market, the movement of armies, the rise and fall of sales figures, profits, taxes, does he love me, what does she think of me, will I ever be thin enough/rich enough/successful enough/lucky enough to (fill in the blank); and what does all this mean about me or about the world. 

This speculative thinking leads only to suffering and more of an upset mind.

What the Yoga Sutras recommends is to cultivate and control the mind.

In our meditation, we don’t control the mind at all. We let our mantra do the work for us. But outside of meditation we try to correct our thinking to align with consciousness itself, or nature. This is “cultivation and control of the mind.”

The Sutras recommend non-attachment and practice. 

  • Non-attachment is fostered by reminding ourselves that we are something other than our thoughts and our feelings. Reminding ourselves that we are the Self, deep within. 
  • Practice is stepping away from thoughts that disturb us. How? By not paying attention to them.

When we find ourselves locked in negative thinking, we simply let it go and become present. Stop speculating. Stop obsessing. Stop reacting to things that were said or done yesterday or last week or when we were five. Stop reacting to things that may or may not happen tomorrow. Be here now.

We can start anytime, anywhere, simply by noticing our thoughts and not allowing ourselves to run with them. Stepping out of our thinking and into the present moment. 

We are working against the habits of a lifetime, so it isn’t easy. But the payoff is profound and truly what most of us are seeking. Peace. Happiness. Freedom to enjoy the world, ourselves, our loved ones. Freedom to enjoy life itself.

Today I will notice when I am thinking negatively about myself or anyone or anything else, and I will gently introduce to myself the idea that, as negative as it may look in this moment, perhaps I don’t know the full story; and I will set aside judgment for a later time.

Bud Powell on bench, tintype