I’ll never boast a “holier than thou” persona. I’m not. I’m no better than anyone else. That being said, I’m going to share an embarrassing (but AWESOME!) confession. A little episode that occurred for me a year ago. Here goes . . .
I was experiencing a really unpleasant human interaction. I think I may have been at work. In my own head I started to call the person a (pardon my French) “douchebag.” Instead of thinking “douchebag,” however, my mind inserted the word “juice box.” So, in the midst of my irritation, the Universe decided to fiddle inside my brain and make me think, “What a juice box.” Needless to say it left me smiling rather than frowning.
That’s not all . . .
It’s been about a year or so since that happened. The best part? It continues to happen from time to time. I actively practice adhering to Sutra 1.33 on a daily basis. This says, “By cultivating attitudes of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous and disregard toward the wicked, the mind-stuff retrains its undisturbed calmness.” That being said, I work towards not name calling or profanity slinging in the temple of my mind each time I grow agitated. I practice Sutra 2.33, which highlights pratipaksha bhavanam, and says, “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. This is pratipaksha bhavanam.”
Again, I’m human. So when I’m a little less than stellar at adhering to Sutras 1.33 and 2.33, the dreaded “dbag” word sometimes finds its way into my internal monologue. Woopsies. What’s not a woopsies, though, is the fact that the Universe (or my own subconscious, if I might give it credit) periodically plops “juice box” into said monologue in place of its dirtier counterpart.
How. Amazing. Is. That?
It happens completely without intention and it never fails to make me smile, grin even, like a fool. I always laugh under my breath which, when dealing with a negative person, usually either lightens the mood or makes them think I’m laughing at them which does not lighten the mood. Regardless, there it is.
The word will never have quite the same meaning to me. It now represents the mind’s ability to turn a negative into a positive…completely unconsciously. It’s possible. So if we can do it unconsciously, we can also do it consciously. We can retrain our minds to think positive thoughts rather than negative thoughts. We’re human, so our positive train of thought won’t be chugging along uninterrupted 100% of the time (and it yours is, write me, tell me your secrets!), but it’s a step in the right direction. The “dbag” still word occasionally slips into my mental stream, but I find at least two out of three times my brain involuntarily says “juice box,” without even missing a beat. I don’t know how it started, but I don’t question it. It’s a beautiful thing.
So how does one go about retraining one’s internal monologue consciously? I don’t have an answer to that. I do, however, have Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, a dedicated yoga practice and a passion for holistic wellness (which fully entails a clear, clean and controlled mental process). I also have the intention to always seek truth. Highest truth. And then to share that truth with all of you.
I may not have the answer to creating a blip free mindset, but I believe there are a few key steps we can take in censoring the negativity.
- Mantra: even if it’s one word, I find mantra to be incredibly empowering. I have been known throughout my life to write mantras on my whiteboard, post them on pos-its, scribble them on my mirror, type them into my phone, tape them to my steering wheel…I place mantra, whatever is most powerful to me that day, month, year, in a spot where I know I’ll repeatedly see it. Once I’ve become desensitized to the wording, or the mantra has served its purpose for me, or simply a new and fresh one is delivered to me by the Universe, I rewrite/post/scribble/type/tape those words. Mantra is powerful. It doesn’t have to be a famous quote or a yogic mantra, it can simply be one word. It can be a name. A phrase. A lyric. Something that instantly, or over time, evokes meaning, positivity and light in your spirit.
- Kindness Toward Ourselves: we’re human. That’s enough. That’s a mantra in and of itself, for me at least! I’m human. It’s not a cop-out nor is it an excuse. It’s merely a fact. I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be, nor should I really want to be. I will succumb to negative thoughts sometimes and, rather than seeing this as a failure, I will see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to notice that I have a choice. I can choose positive or negative. It’s also an opportunity to be grateful that I succumb to negative thoughts “sometimes” and not “all the time.” A significant distinction.
- Practice: Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will your ability to enlist pratipaksha bhavanam. Practice. That’s all we can do. Practice. The more we practice positive thought, the more unconscious it becomes. The more naturally it kicks into gear involuntarily. Practice.
Most importantly, in the quest towards a clear and positive state of mind, is the reminder that compassion, understanding and kindness are cyclical. Just as one ought to treat others as one would like to be treated, one must also treat oneself the way one would like to be treated. In simpler terms…don’t be a juice box toward others, and don’t be a juice box toward yourself 🙂