Habits of the mind

A friend asked recently on Facebook whether our lives are predetermined or whether we have a choice over what happens to us.  I’m not sure I can answer this question, but what I do know is that we have a choice over our expectations of what should be.

Many so-called “esoteric” traditions (which are becoming a lot less esoteric and a lot more mainstream now) teach that a thought is the precursor to its manifestation in form.  So, what you think becomes reality – especially the more energy you put into it.  At the very least, I believe that what you think makes an imprint on your body in terms of its energy levels and functioning.  At the very most, I believe you can strongly influence the life that manifests for you by taking charge of your thoughts and perceptions and therefore your expectations.  Can you control how other people react to you?  No, but you can control how you react and interact with your world.

Yoga teaches that thoughts are powerful.  It also teaches that we have limiting thought forms (samskaras) of which we are often unaware that affect and even dictate our ways of being and our perceptions of the world.  These thought forms limit our experience of the world and we imagine that these thoughts are truths rather than just habits of the mind.  “This is just how things are,” we tell ourselves, “Nothing is going to change.”  “Love hurts.”  “I’ll never have enough money.”  “Work isn’t supposed to be fun.”  And that’s what you get – more of the same.  This becomes so habituated that we don’t even notice that we’re doing it.  Thus begins a cycle, turning around and around on this wheel of life without knowing why we’re on the wheel or how to get off.

Where did those thoughts come from anyway?  Who decided they were true?  What if you could allow for the possibility of something being different?  What if, without necessarily knowing how to change it, you could just entertain the possibility that things could change for the better?

The first step to making a change is mindfulness of these habitual limiting thoughts.  Meditation helps with this, but I’ve found the most helpful thing is to listen to myself talk.  Wayne Dyer talks about this in his DVD set “Excuses Begone.” The things that pop out of our mouths in everyday conversation can shed a lot of light on what thought patters are revolving in your head.  For example in yoga practice I used to say:  “Oh yea, that’s my bad hip.”  Yikes!  Poor hip.  I wasn’t allowing it the possibility of being anything else.  Have you said or heard people say:  “Yea, life sucks and then you die.”  Is that really what you want to manifest?

Some might argue that people don’t really mean it when they say those things – it’s just a thing people say.  Check in with your body the next time you say one of these careless phrases and see if your body knows that you don’t really mean it.  “Life sucks” has a totally different impact on your body than “I love being alive!” or “Amazing things happen all the time.”  Close your eyes and try it – say the phrases and notice how they impact your body.  You might be surprised.

If you don’t really mean it, don’t say it.  Just like your thoughts, your words have power.  If you say it enough you’ll eventually believe it.  Repeat something that builds you up instead of tearing you down – make a habit of being open to amazing possibilities.  You might be surprised at what can happen.