Meditate with Urmila: How to switch your thoughts the opposite way
Meditation is the most natural thing and comes automatically to us. To put it simply, when we concentrate on something or continually reflect on a thought or/and choose to engage in a particular emotion, we are meditating on it- with mind and body. The results flow to us accordingly.
One can concentrate on pain, disease and complain, make it larger (than life) or one can meditate upon on the goodness of things and allow more goodness to flow.
The self is responsible
It is all up to the individual and the choices made by him/her through thoughts. In accordance to the thoughts nurtured, the feelings flow; good or may not be so. There is no third entity creating misery or happiness for an individual. And in that sense, no one is to be blamed or criticised as well, because in the same vein, no one is creating thoughts for that individual but the individual himself/herself.
The beauty of thoughts is that they can be switched. A powerless thought can be switched and transformed into an empowering one. How can that be done?
It is possible through the practice of opposite thoughts. So, for example, if one is struggling with a feeling of emptiness or void leading to hopelessness, then one can slowly and incrementally, start cultivating the opposite feeling, that of hope. This can be done by developing and abiding in hopeful thoughts such as, “I don’t know why, but I feel hopeful today.” “I feel hopeful and joyous and I love the feeling.” “Today, I keep hope with me.”
Power of the opposite
Opposite thoughts help to restore balance in mind and body. It melts the darkness of an unlikeable emotion to shine forth the light in us. It takes us from despair to hope, from arrogance to humility, from pompousness to simplicity, from anxiety to vitality, from frenzy to steadiness, and so on.
An opposite emotion allows us to taste the balance of life. A high level of exuberance can make one ‘airy’ and disconnected from the feelings of discernment. Or a high level of frustration can rob one from the feelings of appreciation, receiving or giving. Hence, balance is required.
Practising an opposite emotion, well, takes practice! Day-after-day, sometimes, in-between hours of a day. In replacing one state of mind to another, reinforcement is necessary, for, an emotion may have ‘homed in’ for long. For example, it may take reinforcement to replace doubt into trust.
If practice seems like a chore, then one can approach it with the zest of experimenting.
One can experiment in dealing with, let’s say, stress of an unfinished project work. Ask: what am I really stressed about in this? Is it about time, quality or competition or something else? Once the reason (s) are identified and specified, begin your experiment.
Relax, take a few deep breaths, get into a coherent state, and gradually begin replacing the stressed feeling with enabling emotions. You can start with: “I will give this project my best shot, the best that I can.” “My goal is realistic and hence attainable.” “I can do this.” “It is possible.” “I have the knowledge, skills and ability to attain my target.” “I have done this before; I can do it now.” “I trust that all will come together and required help will flow.” “All comes together with ease and grace.” Notice how you feel now.
Most of the time, we neglect practice. Rather, go out and seek sympathy, giving power to others or, blame. Guess what happens? We fall in a dismal pit even more and it takes twice the time and energy to get out of it.
This, we do again and again, without realising that every time we give power to others, or blame others, or find excuses, we permit ourselves to feel small. It is a permission that we give to self. So, really no one else is to be blamed or held responsible for our joys and miseries but the self.
In blaming or clinging to excuses we undermine our unique potential. In practicing opposite emotions, we expand our potential.