We’ve been talking quite a bit about spring cleaning up here on the Yogalife Studios Blog. Clearing and cleaning out the old to gently make space for the fresh and new. So far we’ve talked about cleaning out the body with yoga and nutrition. Today, we’ll move on to clearing room in our headspace. While cleaning out our bodies with regular yoga practice and proper nutrition will help prepare our heads to be clear and calm, we should also be aware of what thoughts we are bringing into our mind.
There is a great quote Yogalife instructor Brandon Jacobs likes to share—“Be careful how you are talking to yourself, because you are listening” (originally by Lisa M. Hayes).
Have you ever felt “sick to your stomach” with worry, or had your “tummy tied in knots” with anxiety over an upcoming event? Our thought processes are so powerful—they have the ability to make us feel healthy or sick, regardless of what state our physical body is in. In the same way that continually telling ourselves that we are beautiful, healthy, and strong helps us to adopt that belief, when we feed ourselves with negative thoughts of criticism, self-doubt, and fear, those ideas may very well come true.
The majority of the thoughts we have each day are the same ones we had yesterday.
Some of those thoughts will serve you, like giving yourself a mental pat on the back for something good you’ve done, or feeling content in a moment. But at the same time, maybe you repeatedly think to yourself “I hate my stomach,” or “I’m so bad at this pose,” or “I’ll be single forever.”
Negative thoughts—especially those ones that arise day after day—sap our energy and distract us from the present moment—other than the conscious moments of pointed reflection and constructive self-criticism, these cyclical thoughts don’t serve us—they don’t make us better, they make us worse.
So help yourself get out of the habit by spring-cleaning your brain— try consciously stepping out of the cycle of the “monkey mind.” For three days, keep a simple thoughts journal. Notice what negative thoughts pop into your mind throughout the day, and each hour, try to jot them down. It’s not important that you get every single thought—but try to make note of the reoccurring themes. By the end of the three days it’s likely that you’ll see a pattern—perhaps there’s a trigger that sends your thoughts spiralling into negativity, or maybe your days are more affected by a certain fixation than you’d previously realized.
Of the reoccurring negative thoughts, pick one that you truly and sincerely want to erase from your life, and try your darndest to catch yourself each time that thought pops up. And then, rather than judging yourself for thinking that same thought again, replace the negative thought with a positive affirmation.
So, instead of “I wish I was more _______,” try “I accept myself exactly as I am.” Replace “my life sucks right now” with “I’m learning and growing so much from this current challenge.” It doesn’t matter if you believe it yet, but the age-old adage holds true—you can fake it ‘till you make it.
We absorb what we tell ourselves we are, and eventually that is what we become.
So why not become something more positive? Try trading in your thoughts for one month—the amount of time it takes to create a habit—and see how greatly this one small change can change your outlook on life.
What negative thought pattern do you want to clean out this spring? Let us know on Facebook or chat with your instructors in the studios. We love to hear from you!