The deeper I dive into my practice of yoga and meditation, the more fascinated I become by the sensation of thoughts. My mind is like an entire world visible to no other but me, and the more I understand my thoughts as simply 'thoughts' the more I began to feel extremely liberated.
We are used to thinking non-stop. Whatever is happening around us, we internally comment on it, reflect upon it, do anything with it -- anything but let it be. Even the most simple things in life can become awfully complex just by putting thoughts (more attention) into them. This complexity can become overwhelming, especially when these thoughts keep us in a vicious circle of destructive and pessimistic thinking. Don't get me wrong, our minds ability to think is an amazing tool, however we must put right effort into learning how to properly use it - instead of being used up by it.
This cycle is exactly what I have experienced. At times, I have been used up by my thoughts, keeping myself small and insecure and full of doubts. Without a single question, I accepted whatever my mind gave me, which most of the times have been a vicious circle of rumination, negativity and judgement. I also believed in the past, that I was the only one who experienced this, but I've come to realise we all have that inner voice that, and if not handled accordingly, can tear us down.
In one of my latest readings, I stumbled across meta-awareness. Meta-awareness examines our mind wanderings, how easily and often we get distracted by everything, I really mean everything. Reading this took me back to my first meditation practices where I felt as if I just couldn't get it right. Why? Because my mind kept distracting me. I couldn't even count until 6 before my mind was taking me back to yesterday's conversation with my sister or I was thinking about tonight's dinner plans. I thought I had missed an essential part of the practice, and maybe meditation was just not for me.
What was happening instead was exactly what meditation is: being distracted by thoughts, noticing them, observing them and trying to return to the present moment, only to be distracted again.
The first encounter with the meta-awareness was followed by a slow and ongoing realization that my thoughts are not facts and not true. My thoughts are often noise. Distraction. Confusion. Interference.
The more you are caught up in a certain thought, the more likely it will keep coming back. That can be a frustrating cycle, however, there is a way out. All it takes is practice!
If you want to take on your thoughts and gain the power back over your mind, the most important tool for you is awareness. Here, it is not necessarily important how you practice awareness, but most important is that you practice it. And a practice needs to happen regularly, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day. Try and make it your healthy habit.
Here's how to practice more awareness:
Meditation: I start my day with a 12 to 17 minute meditation practice. Sometimes, I feel the need to sit longer or even twice a day, so I try to schedule that in. I see it as taking care of my mind, just like taking care of my body by heading to the gym or preparing delicious food.
Time-Outs: If you find yourself in the middle of negative thoughts tearing you down, be pro-active and take a time-out. This can literally be anything. A walk in nature, a couple of pages in a good book, some music or just two minutes sitting in silence following your breath. The most important thing is to give yourself a change of scenery and act upon it.
Write it down: If there is one particular thought or a series of thoughts that keeps showing up, write them on a piece of paper and ask yourself critically: are you tricking yourself into something, are you thinking in black and white terms only, or could it be possible that you are expecting perfection from yourself? I like to ask myself if I would expect my dearest friends to act in that way or make that certain decision. The answer is usually no. So why continue to be so harsh upon yourself?
Gratitude: Every evening before going to bed I write down three things that I am extremely grateful for that specific day. I don't worry about writing it poetic or beautiful ways – I simply note whatever pops up in my head first. Since my gratitude journal is usually the last thing I see before closing my eyes, this helps to shift my perception of the day I experienced.
Remember, awareness is the driving force behind your thoughts.
If you practice shifting your awareness away from your negative and destructive thoughts, you withdraw the power.
Like with anything, the more you practice, the better you will learn how to use your mind and thoughts as the previous tools they are.
Sabrina is on the journey to self-love, self-care and connection. Through Yoga and Meditation she learned how to truly connect with and channel the positivity within. Sabrina balances life between her many passions and desire to make a difference in her own life and those around her. Follow her here www.simplybeeyou.com