It’s estimated that we have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day. Whew! That’s a lot. What’s even more amazing is that, according to research, 75% of these thoughts are negative and 95% are repetitive. We excel at criticism and judgment. And these repetitive, automatic thoughts lead us to believe ideas about ourselves that are less than helpful. They can lead to depression and anxiety if not understood correctly.
The Good News
The good news is there is a way of relating to your thoughts which buffers you from their impact. Mindfulness practice helps you to be aware of your thoughts without becoming them or believing them. When you become aware of the thought “I am not good enough,” you can understand it as a passing sensation and a conditioned thought you have practiced a lot but is not true. Your brain has been in the process of being conditioned since birth. And, because the brain is particularly adept at taking in negative Information and not so good at taking in the positive, you end up believing some pretty judgmental things about yourself.
These ideas are planted in your head both consciously and unconsciously. You are impacted by social media, the consumer culture, your peers, your family, and many other influencers who are out to make a profit on you by having you believe there is something wrong with you. And, in the fast pace of your day, you don’t often stop to question what is happening inside your head. Instead, you might find yourself shopping for the latest diet, workout routine, clothing, car, food, etc. so that you can “be better.”
To counteract these negative influences, I like to encourage people to engage in practices that connect them to their hearts. The heart holds insight and wisdom that comes from deep inside. It has not been conditioned to give you a bunch of negative ideas nor does it become jaded by the mind. The heart also doesn’t speak as loudly as the mind so you have to stop and purposely listen to it to hear its messages.
Gifts From The Heart
As I wrote in my last blog, there is a beautiful practice by Ellen Meredith called Gifts From the Heart that I have been doing all month with my Energy Medicine Yoga participants. To do this for yourself, click here for a very short video of me leading you through it. You can practice this over several days and journal about the messages you receive. You might be surprised at how different these messages are from the ones coming from your head.
Meditation practice has been my lifesaver. It taught me many years ago that I am not my critical, judgmental mind and I have been happier ever since. I can’t say it was an easy process because I fought the mind for a long time. I wanted the mind to be different. What I discovered was that my relationship with my mind is what needed to change, not the mind itself. Because the mind is conditioned, it is going to keep saying the same mean, critical things for a long time. However, the more time you spend having a friendly relationship with your thoughts, the less critical they become. Your reaction to them keeps them strong. A loving, welcoming response to your mind helps it let go and it stops torturing you as much.
Try one of my Mindfulness of Thoughts meditations that I recorded for my books, Savor Every Bite and The Mindfulness-Based Eating Solution. You can find these recordings and many more on my website at https://lynnrossy.com/multimedia/
Yoga practice is one of the best ways to help quiet the mind and move into the heart. The whole technology of yoga asana asks that you take your attention away from your thoughts and to the breath and the body sensations available to you as you move through various postures. When you keep taking your attention away from the thoughts you are breaking down the bond that you have with them. In other words, you are changing your relationship with them. Over time, your mind begins to quiet because you have taught it you aren’t going to listen and it gives over to your direction. (That is not a technical explanation but how I experience it in practice.)
I will be traveling soon and not be available for my in-person classes for a few weeks. So, I have recorded three Energy Medicine Yoga Classes that are specifically themed on the heart. The first is called Listening to the Heart and includes the Gifts From the Heart practice I mentioned earlier. This will be released January 31. The second is called Radiant Circuits and takes you through the energy medicine practices that help you connect with your inner radiance and joy. This will be released February 7. And, the third practice is called Heart Activation and releases on February 14–just in time for Valentine’s Day. You can purchase whichever one resonates with you or all three on my Square account. Experience the beauty of yoga and energy medicine together in one practice that uplifts and inspires.
Of course, if you would like a live, online class–I will be here for the next two Wednesdays and those classes are listed on my Square site as well. The focus for these will also be on Listening to the Heart.
I’m a big proponent of talking to myself in a kind and caring manner. This is something I had to train myself to do. It did not come naturally. However, I have noticed that over time, it is now almost my default way of thinking about myself. Sure, I still have unkind thoughts, but when they come I consciously let them go and replace them with thoughts that are helpful and encouraging. I have become my own loving parent.
I’ve recently been reading the book “Hello Beautiful” by Ann Napolitano. In it, when any of his daughters or his wife would enter the room, the father/husband would welcome them with “Hello Beautiful!” She writes “The greeting was nice enough to make them want to leave the room and come in all over again.” How would it be if, every time you saw yourself in the mirror, you said “Hello Beautiful!”? I often suggested something similar to the people in my mindful eating classes to counteract their overwhelming unkind self-talk. Give it a try for a while, and see how you feel. You might not avoid the mirror so much!
Of course, there are all kinds of skillful affirmations that you can give yourself. Find the ones that feel most helpful to you and start incorporating them into your day from the minute you wake up. One that I adore is from Shauna Shapiro. She started saying “Good Morning, I love you” every day when she woke up as a way of conditioning a more kind approach to herself. She even wrote a whole book by that title in case you want to read more about her mindful suggestions.
Strengthen Your Heart Connection
To strengthen your heart connection, all you have to do is tune in from time to time. When you’re having a difficult time, place your hands over your heart, take a breath, and ask it for advice. Even when you’re not having a difficult time, do the same thing as a way of strengthening your connection to this wise, compassionate part of yourself. Your best answers come from your best friend!
Be well and happy!