So you are in Paschimottanasana and your instructor tells you to focus on your inner peace. You feel good in the pose, but your mind starts wandering around and you’re suddenly thinking
“I’m totally doing this better than the woman next to me… what should I have for dinner? … these pants are so uncomfortable… oh right, I should clear my mind.”
You can control your body, improve your flexibility and control your arms and legs, but can you take charge your mind or have your thoughts taken complete domination over you?
What should you be thinking?
The ideal state would be a blank mind focused on what you’re doing at the moment. Did you have a hectic day? Is everyone you know giving you a hard time? Leave all problems being you when you step on that yoga mat. This is the time you devote to yourself, and you should always try to get the most of it.
Everything would be easy if you could just say “okay, I’ll stop thinking now and I’ll focus on the presence.” Unfortunately, your mind is not that easy to train. Thoughts will keep coming, but you will notice how you can impose your control over them if you’re consistent with your practice.
According to Patanjali’s definition, “Yoga is the removal of the fluctuations of the mind.” When the disturbance in your thoughts stops, yoga starts.
Your thoughts turn you into who you are
Everyone thinks. The nature of the thoughts and the ability to control them is what matters. Don’t try to suppress the feelings and thoughts, but observe them and become aware of every spark that crosses your mind. When you improve your awareness, you will know how to control them and the yoga practice will be elevated to a whole other level.
Every human has a unique facial expression, voice, and many other features, but everyone’s world of thinking is different as well. When you read Patanjali’s yoga sutras, you will notice that every principle is valid on three levels: your thoughts, words, and deeds. Every deed and word is very important for your spiritual development, but they all come from your thoughts. The way you think determines your actions, personality, and the way your presence influences the future.
The power of positive thinking
Being happy and content is not a privilege; it’s our natural state of being that we have forgotten over time.
If your thoughts are noble, bright, and focused, you are sending positive vibrations that have the power to bring subtle, but important changes to the world. By changing your thinking patterns, you will surely notice how you are becoming a more positive person, but the effects won’t be limited there. Taking actions to make the world a better place to live in is wonderful, but every change starts with the way you think.
Negative thoughts have power, too!
The thoughts of jealousy, hate, selfishness, fear, greed, and other bitter impulses are twisting your mind and causing the mess inside it. They are poisoning not only you, but the people around you as well. Every negative thought is hurting you on many levels. When you get used to negative thinking, it will be very difficult to train your mind to get out of that state.
All that mental energy you are focusing on unnecessary thoughts can be used for something noble. Don’t waste it!
How to train your thoughts
Your goal is to achieve a state of a blank, focused mind when meditating. But how do you achieve that when you don’t invite your thoughts, but they keep on coming? Your mind is an interesting instrument. It likes to take a course on its own and drag you where you don’t want to be. When the memories, wishes, and feelings keep on coming, all you need to do is observe them. Don’t let one thought lead to another, just let it pass through your mind and don’t attach yourself to it. This is one of the most important practices in yoga, called antar mouna (inner silence).
The key to success is self-observance. Sometimes the thoughts will be very unsettling and burdensome, but continue observing them and don’t send them back to your subconscious levels. Be a witness to your thoughts and feelings; there is no reason to be afraid of them. When you know what’s right and what’s wrong, your thinking patterns will start changing and you will soon start recognizing the positive person you always were.
When ominous thoughts attack you, you will know how to defy them.
When you learn how to bring your mind under control, you will experience pure peace and happiness.