Here is my favorite verse I recently read from the ‘Upanishads’. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, the Upanishads are a collection of philosophical verses with a spiritual content. Yoga has accumulated its philosophy from very ancient material, the Upanishads being one of the sources.
The verse goes like this:
Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; for it becomes your destiny.
We Are A Being of Thoughts
I read in a study that we develop an average of ninety thousand thoughts per day. Most of them we are not even aware of. These thoughts are like spider webs building our attitude towards all the different aspects of our lives, telling us what’s right and wrong about the world, and about us, creating judgments and expectations and repeating to us what we need in order to be happy. They can be our best friends, or worst enemies, as they remind us constantly of what we are, or are not, capable of. We barely pay attention to them, and yet they are placing every rock in our path, defining how we act, what we say to others, what we believe in, and what our fears are, etc.
The second sutra, which is the foundation of yoga, says: “Yoga citta vritti nirodah” meaning that Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. The whole purpose of being present and quieting the mind isn’t about not thinking, instead it is about slowing down the thoughts little by little so we can start paying attention to each and everyone one of them, and ask ourselves where are they coming from; are they coming from fear, pain, attachment or anger? Or are they coming from love and inner freedom?
Increase Your Awareness
As you study the movements of your mind you can begin to notice if you tend to move towards your past or if you are consumed by your future. We can also start noticing how many negative or positive thoughts we build up in a day and how much they affect our actions and emotions. As we increase the awareness on our thoughts, we can even realize how much power the media and publicity has on our thoughts and then we can become a bit more selective when choosing what we want to pay attention to.
Exercise for Thoughts
A little exercise I learned some time ago has been really helpful for me on this subject: Take some time everyday to pay attention to what you are thinking, every time you find a negative thought try to create three positive thoughts to compensate, with time you may notice this mental action will become unconscious and involuntary and it will start changing your fears, attitude, and actions, and therefore your character and your destiny.