It sounds like such a typical new age question, doesn’t it? But it is so clearly addressed in the Yoga Sutras, that we can be sure that people have been struggling with this issue for at least 2000 years and likely more! So what do we do?
Upon being harassed by negative thoughts, one should cultivate counteracting thoughts.
According to Patanjali; Cultivate the opposite. Think better feeling thoughts! When you wake up and say to yourself, “OH NO…Here we go again!” In the next breath say: “Wow, it’s a great day, I’m here and I’m breathing and I’m free!” as a powerful counteraction. While this may seem like mindfulness 101, it is quite a challenge when we notice just how many negative thoughts harass us daily. To face each moment with the opposite is to spend almost all of our time being in and building gratitude.
Ah. Gratitude again. Start simply. Be grateful for your socks. The electricity that powers your technology. Be grateful for fresh water to drink. The sun that pours through your window. Or the rain that blocks the sun. The sound of the airplane overhead and remembering a trip you once took on an airplane feeling the impossible possible by hurling through the air. Be grateful for feeling angry and alone, for these are the feeling tools that set the ground right for accepting love and friendship.
Being grateful is also quite magical, not only because it makes us feel better and is a magical sword to negative thinking, but because it leads to so many more rabbit holes of gratitude. I’ll give you an example:
I feel grateful for my warm slippers. They were a gift, and I am grateful for the giver of the gift. I am grateful for the company that makes them and the person who hand-stitched the sole to the slipper. I’m grateful to the sheep who gave the wool. I’m grateful to the animal who gave the sole. I’m aware that these animals didn’t give these things willingly and the cow died for the leather. I’m grateful for their selfless acts. Now I’m grateful for those who spend time caring for the well-being of animals. And for those who are willing to speak up for their unfair treatment. I’m grateful to be able to spend time at home with my slippers and I’m grateful for winter when I need to keep my feet warm. I’m grateful for the snow that softens and fills my environment with crystals to make everything look different and new again in the dark of winter.
From slippers to friends, animals to winter. Sending my good feeling thoughts through all those places brings light within and expands the inner self that desperately wants to experience that growth. It is in great contrast to a negative thought pattern rabbit hole.
There is so much wisdom in this tiny sutra. II. 33. “Upon being harassed by negative thoughts, one should cultivate counteracting thoughts.”
Go on, give it a try!