Does your mind play tricks on you? Do you have a little voice in your head giving you a running commentary on everything you do, say, think or feel? I think I can say with some confidence, and much personal experience, that most people would answer “yes!” to these questions.
Our minds can be busy undermining us on a daily basis. Judging what we do or so, replaying situations over and over again looking at what we “should” have said or done, criticizing every waking moment and action we take.
But instead of being at the mercy of our noisy minds, wouldn’t it be great if we could consciously change the words our mind’s voice uses? Harness its power so we’re giving ourselves the messages a friend would, rather than an enemy.
Of course, aiming to turn negative self talk into positive is nothing new – there are countless books and self-help programmes out there which aim to do this. And, I have to admit, that I used to think that all this positive self talk stuff was a tad naff, in a rather English-stiff-upper-lip-pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps-keep-calm-and-carry-on kind of way!
…until I started to try it.
Start talking to yourself
Yoga has much to help us to calm our minds. As yoga sage Patanjali tells us in his second sutra – to paraphrase the many different translations – yoga stills the fluctuations of the mind.
The form of yoga which I practise – Dru yoga – brings affirmations and visualizations in to flowing sequences and postures to anchor and to amplify intentions in our yoga practice.
So, for example, The Tree of Transformation, a sequence based around the Vrksasana (Tree) posture, includes affirmations such as “I believe in who I am” and “my life is unfolding perfectly”.
And we can focus on cultivating attributes related to a posture, such as:
- nurturing a sense of willpower and determination in Tiger (Vyaghrasana),
- cultivating an open heart and positive self-esteem in Charity Pose (Parsvottanasana), or
- asking to become a vehicle for a higher purpose in Eagle (Garudasana).
Powerful and transformative stuff!
See the change you want to be*
Using affirmations in our yoga practice we can begin to cultivate positive qualities in ourselves. We can visualize positive change unfolding in our lives. And as we begin to see it in our mind’s eye we change how we feel and help to make the change become reality.
I have experienced this myself. A couple of years ago I started to think about becoming a yoga teacher, started to look into it, and became emotionally and intellectually connected with the idea that I could train to teach. I tried to enrol on a course with a yoga school, but that fell through. But then, almost straight away, I met two people who introduced me to Dru yoga (thanks Sue and Cath!) and a teacher training course starting in a few months…
My thoughts about the future started to change. I started to tell myself a different story. I could see myself doing something I loved. And now here I am, just qualified as a yoga teacher and excited about this new stage in my life.
Get the universe on your side
When working with visualizations and affirmations we’re working directly with our emotions and our thought/intellect, in yogic terms, the Manamaya and Vijnanamaya koshas.
With our physical movement and postures we work with Anamaya Kosha and working with the breath we work with Pranamaya Kosha.
As we bring all of our layers of experience to focus on a particular quality or outcome, we can start to bring it into being: as if when we place our positive intention on something, the universe conspires to bring it about.
Similarly, if you think bad things will happen, they probably will. Living life from a position of fear means you will see the worst in every situation. You may stop yourself from doing things even before you’ve begun, thus compounding your belief that good things just don’t happen to you.
So why not think good things will happen and notice how this change in your perception subtly changes how you approach life and the people and events in your life.
Changing the record
So now, as I take my first steps to start teaching yoga, I’m formulating new ways to describe my future life and new images of how it might unfold.
Yes, my busy still mind races away with lots of “what ifs” and “surely I can’t do x,y,z…”, but the difference now is that I notice this, stop and take a few breaths, and change the record.
When I’m practising yoga on my mat, and when I’m off it, I give myself positive messages and visualize what I want to see in my life to make it feel real.
My sense of what I’m capable of is changing. I believe in who I am and know that I really do have all the inner resources I need to achieve my goals.
How could you use the power of your mind to help you?
* Yes, I know I’m misquoting Gandhi… Be the change you want to see in the world too!