We’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” While this is certainly true, an even deeper level of examination reveals that we are what we think. For thousands of years the great Yogis and Vaidyas (Ayurvedic physicians) have observed the nature of the mind-body relationship. What they analyzed, understood, and taught was the direct, undeniable, interconnected matrix of our thought process creating either health or dis-ease. Fast forward approximately 5000 years to today…here we are in a fast-paced, technologically- driven, goal-oriented, productivity-based society; striving to get ahead, make more money, look younger and feel more relaxed. Stress has an impact on our well being, on our nervous system, blood pressure, and every system of the body, not to mention it ages us faster and can leave us feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and depressed.
Is there another way? I talk to many people who believe that this is just the way life is and there isn’t much to do about it unless you’re lucky enough to win the lottery or get an upgrade on your DNA.
Let us imagine for just a moment that we are creating the reality that we see, feel, and interact with. Let us suspend our disbelief for a tiny second and imagine that we manifest our life by sending out signals and invitations through the thoughts that we think and feelings that we feel. What if these thoughts and feelings set up an energetic loop that reflects back to us our “reality” based on the vibration that we are experiencing? For example when we are in a negative state of mind we look though the lens of negativity and see everything around us conspiring to make us suffer (so we get more suffering). Conversely, when we are in a positive, loving resonance our perspective is different and even when adversity comes we can navigate and deflect it more easily and gracefully (so we feel more love, gratitude, and peace).
In Yoga and Ayurveda, the mind is called manas and is said to have a functional relationship with the entire body. The mind is not the same as the brain here. Manas has a presence on a cellular level, existing as an intelligence that is affecting all of the dhatus (tissue layers or systems) and chakras (energy centres), thereby giving information to the entire body about how to function.
Every thought we think has power. Most of our thoughts are habitual and repetitive, they are old programs from the past, running the show. This happens without us even realizing it. We believe we are thinking new thoughts yet we wind up creating the same situations, experiences and circumstances over and over again. It may be a new relationship but over time we realize we’re dating the same guy, or are involved in another altercation with an unfair boss, or have another friend dumping all of their problems on us. Can you relate?
At this point it may feel like life is happening to you, however life is a reflection of what signals are going out from your own personal generating station (the channel of the mind, manovaha srota). So time to observe and take charge! If you want to change anything in your life start by looking within by observing the subtle thoughts, reactions and feelings created from your thinking patterns. Ask yourself:
1) Is there another perspective or point of view that I could take?
2) How am I contributing to the outcome of a situation (positively or negatively)?
3) What else is possible?
4) What would love do/ say/ think?
Don’t lollygag in a negative rut, as it will only bring you down and down and down.
Notice any resistance you may have to thinking or feeling positively about something. I’m not talking about suppression here. Ahamkara is the sense of “I Am”, loosely translated as the ego. Whenever the sense of who we think we are is threatened, (i.e. moving beyond an old paradigm of thinking or being) the ahamkara will rear it’s ugly head, dig it’s heels in and convince you that it’s not safe to love, forgive, trust, relax, or accept. This is the crossroads of transformation. You may choose to stay small, stuck, and feel like a victim or you can choose to blast through the ceiling of suffering by embracing a new way of thinking, feeling, and looking at the world. This is incredibly empowering and puts the reins of your life back in your hands. Giddy-up!
Yogic asana, pranayama, meditation, and chanting practices are also great tools to reprogram the neuro-pathways of your brain and influence the nervous system to operate from a more relaxed place. Personally I love kirtan and chanting mantras as they have the power to bypass the intellect (buddhi) and go directly to the heart. Also, humming bee breath (brahmari pranayama) and alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana) are at the top of my list for shifting out of a negative place and into a more centred and clear state of mind.
Choose your thoughts and feelings wisely for they will create your future. As Allen Ginsberg said, “You are what you think about all day” and I’m going to have to say I think he might be right!