Do you ever have down days? Of course – we all do. It is a part of life. But, are you aware of what’s causing this? Why are things great one day, fine the next, and gloomy the day after that? In this blog, we’ll explore the factors that drive our ups and downs so that you can recognize your own patterns and prevent another ruined day.
The answer behind our mood swings is often quite simple – negative thought patterns. Maybe you’ve recognized this when you’ve been in a bad mood and noticed feelings of jealousy, insecurity, or fear. Beneath those feelings is where we can find the patterns of self-doubt and negative self-talk that drive us, unconsciously, to bad moods.
We pick up these patterns from different sources – maybe, for example, it’s something your parents said, something that was drilled into you like, “You’ll never be a success,” or “You’ll never be good at this,” or “There’s no value in doing that. You should focus on this in life.” On the other hand we pick up negative thoughts from culture, from society, and even from those we love the most. For example, maybe a close relationship went bad, and someone said some really negative things to you. Because, you care deeply for that person, or you did, you absorb that negativity, granting their comments merit.
Using Meditation to Counteract Negative Thinking
Like seeds, the negative ideas grow in your mind and keep you in their vice. When something triggers them, they sprout forth and ruin our sunny day. Through meditation, however, we can develop two solutions to reverse our negative thoughts and self-talk.
The first is through the use of our intellect. In meditation or the yoga philosophy, the term intellect signifies your discriminating mind, your ability to discriminate between what’s true and what’s false.
If someone had put it in your mind that you’re no good, for example, you might continue with that belief dragging you down forever. Through the practice of meditation, however, you will come to the realization that that is incorrect – “I am a good person.” Meditation enables us to embrace the power of our minds and use reason to eliminate our negative thoughts and patterns.
The other way that yoga philosophy teaches to combat negative thought patterns is to counter them with their opposites. To understand this concept we can use the imagery of waves where a positive thought wave counters the oncoming wave of a negative thought, restoring balance and evenness of mind by cancelling each other out. This process involves really identifying what’s going on in your mind and then bringing in an emotion, feeling, or thought that would cancel out the negativity.
If a negative thought pattern involves how angry you are at somebody, for example, then the way to counter that feeling would be thoughts of forgiveness. For the feeling of hatred towards someone else or even yourself, the opposite thought would be unconditional love. For self-doubt – confidence.
You can also incorporate imagery for this exercise. If you doubt yourself, for example, and you see yourself as weak or lacking a certain capacity, you could visualize yourself as powerful, even introducing the imagery of a mighty elephant that can get through anything.
The ability to meditate and incorporate these techniques allows you to shift your pre-conceptions and negative ideas about your emotions, yourself, and others. You will find that confidence in yourself feels so much better than doubting yourself, as forgiving others feels so much better than holding on to anger. It often takes just one or two times of realizing these patterns and shifting our response before it becomes easier to identify and eliminate our negative ways.
To practice these techniques in your meditation practice, you can use the prompt below to guide you through the process of developing your intellect to discern truth from falsehood and using positive affirmations and emotions to restore balance to your mind. You can record yourself reading the meditation, read it to yourself during your own meditation, or take turns reading it to a friend. Whichever way you choose, begin your meditation as you normally would and invite these exercises in when you feel relaxed and at ease.
How To Think Positive Meditation
Bring to your awareness a challenge that you’re currently facing or a situation or circumstance that poses a challenge.
The source of our challenges is usually within us, so through a little bit of reflection, observe what’s making it a challenge:
Do you have to let go of something?
Are you attached to something?
Are you afraid of something?
Ask yourself: what’s causing it to be a challenge or what qualities do you need to overcome it?
You may recognize that you are afraid or attached or insecure.
Invite this feeling’s opposite such as security, confidence, or courage.
If you’re not really sure what the challenge is but you know that there’s a quality that you need to cultivate to get through this circumstance or situation, then focus on that quality, inwardly repeating the quality as you breathe in.
Now, visualize the challenge and the quality resolving the situation. Imagine the situation as you want it to turn out. Use your imagination to feel the positive quality growing within you.
Focus on your breath, the positive quality, and the visual images of you overcoming your situation.
In the process of ending your meditation, move your mind back to your outer senses, your sense of body, sense of the room, but inwardly hold on to your sense of self and whatever inspiration or energy you got from the different visualizations and techniques.
With time and practice, you will root out your negative thoughts and develop a discriminating intellect free from falsities about yourself and others.
Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.