The new year is generally a time for resolutions. For people to make promises to themselves to do something different in the year to come. But do they really work?
Personally I’m not a fan of the whole new year resolution thing. I think that if you want to change something in your life the time to do it is now, not just January 1st. However, if it helps get some people kick started on the change they need then who am I to argue.
I recently did a four week Positive Thinking course at the London Sivananda Centre, and the Swami there had some interesting things to say about how our minds work and what we can do to change our ways of thinking.
Because that is what is required for most of us to be able give up smoking, stop chewing our nails, eat healthier or do more sadhana (spiritual practice), is a fundamental change in the way we think about things. And that ain’t easy to come by.
Here’s a few of the notes I took on the course, presented in the order in which I took them. Perhaps some of the ideas will strike a chord, and maybe help cement your own resolutions for the coming year.
Thought is an energy you project. Thoughts have a form; thought have weight.
We tend to view thoughts as formless, being electrical impulses in the brain. But sad, angry, depressing thoughts can weight us down and make us feel heavy and lethargic, whereas happy, joyful, uplifting thoughts make us want to skip and dance.
We alone, among all beings, are able to choose our thoughts.
Changing circumstances means nothing if you cannot change the mind.
You can throw out all the chocolate in the house, but until you change how you think about chocolate, you’ll never stop craving it as much.
Changing our minds changes out lives.
Thoughts lead to actions. Repeated actions become habits. We can change our character by changing our habits. Your habits shape your life into the future (your destiny).
Thought → Action → Habit → Character → Destiny
Change your thoughts to change your destiny.
Thought is energy. Thought is alive. All that lives wishes to keep living [longer].
That includes not only all those negative samskaras (mental habits) that we have, but also all the positive ones too. The more we concentrate on the positive, and starve the negative of attention, the sooner the one will replace the other.
Negativity does not build up overnight.
Just as it took time, and repetition, for us to build up these negative mental habits that affect our lives, so it will take time for us to build up the positive ones to replace them.
Prevention means studying the law of cause and effect. Illnesses have a cause. So does being well.
You must recognise when you are unwell, recognise when you need rest, and do something about it. The body and mind deserve to be treated well.
Prevention in yoga means daily practice. It does not have to be much, but do something.
Removing a negative habit requires our choosing not to do something day by day. Adding a positive one involves choosing to do something day by day.
Anything we do to take our life back is considered positive. It inspires us. It allows energy to flow again. In the beginning it is connected to the physical movement of prana.
The mind and body effect each other greatly. When people want to change their lives they don’t always know where to start; so they come to a yoga class, do the exercises, and afterwards feel great both inside and out. Physically moving the prana (energy) helps move it mentally too.
As a man thinks, so he becomes.
Everything we think and do has a result. Therefore we must have discrimination in our actions. Positivity is a decision: So is negativity.
I can’t expect something beautiful from a half-hearted effort. Well-being does not drop from the sky.
You get out of your practice what you put into it. If you don’t try, you don’t get; simple as that.
Good luck with those new year’s resolutions everybody. I’m sure you’ll do great! 🙂
Om Namah Shivaya!