acceptance, awareness, behavior, clarity, Consciousness, Emotion, emotion control, emotions, guilt, judgment, love, negativity, patience, peace, philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Thought, trust, truth, yoga, yoga practice
Prior to beginning a yoga practice, I carried a long-held belief that my feelings or emotions were something that happened to me, and that I had no control over when or how they would manifest. I thought that my emotions were always the result of something that was happening outside of me. I became dependent on people, experiences and material objects to stimulate pleasant emotions, and when my emotions were unpleasant, I blamed anyone or anything but myself.
When I first began studying yoga, I was blown away by the understanding that I could actually learn how to gain control over how I felt. The realization that my thoughts were so strongly linked to my emotions became a huge turning point in my life. I began to realize that, while it may be difficult to stop a flood of emotion from rising up, it is possible to control the thought patterns that are associated to it.
As part of my practice, I began to study myself. I placed a filter on my mind, and started to pay close attention to what was coming through. Through observation, I was shocked to see how much negativity I was inviting into my mind; both about myself and about others. So much of it was habitual to the point that it had been passing through my mind without my knowledge; a barrage of snide remarks about myself, my body, and all the ways I was lacking in my life. As my ability to observe became stronger, I became better at discerning my thoughts and dropping the harmful negativity that was not serving me or those around me.
As the blatant negativity started to dissolve, I began to sharpen my awareness and recognize the many ways that worry, anxiety, fear, doubt and mistrust were creeping into my thoughts and affecting the way that I felt. Furthermore, I began to recognize subtle layers of guilt, shame, remorse, and inadequacy. The dissolution happens when we catch the thought or feeling as soon as it rises. The moment we recognize it, we bring the light of consciousness to it. Nothing more needs to be done. Through conscious awareness, the affects of the harmful thought or feeling simply begin to dissolve until they no longer exist. The process simply requires diligent focus and the willingness to let go of the harmful behavior.
When I first began, the mere thought of trying to clear out the clutter seemed endlessly vast and impossible. I recall looking at myself at the time and thinking that I had such a long way to go as I began to uncover the layers and layers of unnecessary behaviors. Now, as I continue the practice, I find it more fascinating than difficult. I’m often elated when I find a behavior in myself that had been keeping me stuck, because the discovery and awareness is a significant part of obtaining freedom from it.
As we work with conscious awareness to let go of destructive thoughts and perceptions, we begin to discover that hiding behind each harmful behavior are gifts of peace, patience, acceptance, creativity, clarity, ease and joy. I get the sense that the process of discovery is endless—an endless discovery toward the truth of who we are.
photo: Melania Breschia