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Ok, so the title of this post might sound a bit drama-filled. It brings a lot of doubt to your mind. Ah, more thinking, right? Oy! Can thinking cause that serious damage? Well, let's first consider the positive aspect of thinking.
When you have an amazing-100 photos-on-Facebook-worthy-kind-of-day, the positive thoughts are kinda off the charts, right? Nothing, I mean nothing, can spoil those good vibrations. You only see the world as expansive and full of possibilities.
Now let's consider the opposite experience.
Negative patterns of thinking can cause dis-ease. We often can't see or feel the destruction, so we make little effort to reverse the habit, and what is worse, our culture seems to feed on it as a way to connect. I know friends who post mean and negative things on social media. The mere existence of their words in black and white confirms the internal negative loop cycle in the mind and their urge to see validation those thoughts from external sources. The news media or tight knit social groups are other examples of where negativity tends to fester. All these ripples of energy have consequences. So what are they when it comes to thinking negatively?
The destruction of negative thinking patterns is enormous. I'm not exaggerating. The accelerated death it causes inside the body pours into the bloodstream, nervous system, muscle tissue, vital organs, and spinal column. Negative thinking increases the pace of your heart, produces shallow, fast, unrhythmic breathing, produces unwanted physical tension, reduces the length of the spine and reeks havoc on your ability focus the mind in a productive and meaningful way. It shifts the vibration inside your body, and what is worse about all this, it often happens when we are not aware.
I believe we live in a time where we don't have the luxury of feeding negativity into our bodies and minds. This life is too precious and too short. Up to now, the point of my message is to emphasize, this internal experience is more of a "911 - code red" situation then you realize. And if we could create a loving sense of compassionate urgency around this (does that sound soft yet firm?) and reign in our negative thinking, we could do a world of good for our health and the health of those around us.
Now I don't prescribe the approach of... "let's just thinking positive thoughts". NOPE. That method is just too abrupt and misses some major steps. The steps I will outline are a bit more methodical and take time to discover. Lean in with me.
Stage one is where you need to recognize that you are currently a thinking-dominate being, positive or negative. Another way to express this is that the majority of your experiences in life come from a left brain or analytical perspective. But this is not the whole of you and all your potentials. In stage one, you need build awareness (big time) to the tens of thousands of thoughts a day, many of which are kicking you in the butt. This could take months or years and meditation is certainly very helpful in giving you more experience into this part of you.
It helpful to slow the mind chatter down and this can happen in stage two where you learn to use the breath to control the mind. A teacher at this phase is super helpful. I've been practicing conscious breathing for more than ten years, so I feel like I have earned my P.Hd in this department. Breathing makes you highly sensitive to the bodies tension points, heartbeats, nervous system and tunes you to a more honest and real experience of the present moment. Pretty cool, right? The only way to know the breath is through practice, which again, a teacher can best prescribe for you. Practice allows you to learn how the mind and the breath work hand-in-hand. Once you get more masterful with your breathing, your thinking begins to slow. That is the magic of the breath, which clearly regulates the way the mind processes the world. That is why in yoga we focus on the breath more than anything else. This stage can only be fully known on an experiential level, which is why practice does make perfect.
Stage 3 is arriving at that place where you can honestly see your mind thinking, know your breath and begin to experience gaps between thoughts. This will happen when you practice deep breathing but will also bleed into daily life. These first three stages set you up for understanding more about what is happening in mind, how the breath supports your journey and how you can feel dramatics shifts in your perceptions when you notice the gaps between thoughts.
The gaps between thoughts lead gracefully to the final stage of replacing your negative thoughts with more positive ones. This phase is knowing you truly have the power to undo patterns of thinking. More importantly, this stage gives you the most insight into the facts that thoughts, no matter the color, are limiting your human potential. They become real barriers to living in present moment, they trap you into judgments, bias, and ego and deflect you from experiencing true beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace.
It is worth taking the time to slow down, tune inward and listen to the color and experience of thinking. When you do, you gain valuable insight into where your thoughts are taking you and how you can use them to reshape the course of your life towards freedom and fulfillment.