by Morgan Webert
In one of Shakespeare’s many yogic moments he wrote, “Nothing is good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.”
We’ve all experienced this realization when caught in a moment that isn’t going as planned, the stress or frustration levels rising, and then something happens to change our perspective and suddenly what was a massive problem just a moment before dissolves into a less than big deal. The power of perspective cannot be under rated. In fact, some would say that perspective is everything.
Many aspects of yoga practice are really all about cultivating our perspective and working with our mind. The practice gives us a framework in which to observe our triggers and reactions, and then train ourselves to choose a perspective that generates ease in life rather than stress.
When you find yourself triggered or trapped by a moment, try these yogic tools to keep your thoughts supporting you rather than working against you.
Find an Expansive View Point of Oneness
Simply stop and telescope your perspective away from the room you’re in, away from the town your in, away from the country, away from the planet and if you can all the way out into the cosmos. In the process you’ll be reminded of how small you and that moment are, and rather than making you feel insignificant it can make you feel liberated and connected to the whole. Yoga means union, and teaches us the intrinsic truth that all is one. When we remember we are the world, we shift out of the perspective that the world is against us, and often begin to see solutions or an intelligence behind the moment we otherwise missed.
Observe without Identifying
Yoga philosophy differentiates between our mind, the source of our ego identity and our purusha, our true self or soul. The purusha is the observer connected to the highest source of wisdom and observes without identifying. While the ego identity constantly changes, the purusha is steady and unchanging. Choosing not to identify with an experience can be wonderfully empowering! I might have made that mistake, but I am not that mistake. I may not have the physical ability that I desire, but I am not that physical limitation.
Being grateful for what you have can quickly diffuse tension generated from a feeling of lack. That may in part be because gratitude actually improves your mood by reducing the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, Davis found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being as a result of this cortisol reduction.
Remember that All Things Change
Feeling stuck or that “it will always be this way,” can often be a huge trigger for aggravation and even depression. According to yoga philosophy, the only thing that does not change is your purusha, the part of you connected to infinite love, light and wisdom. Everything else will pass! While that can be a slightly scary thought, it’s also a great reminder to be patient. If you feel stuck, walk back through the changes of your life, who you were a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago, 40 years ago. Embrace and relax into the inevitability of change.
Watch Your Thoughts as They Become Your Life
Finally, simply observing how our thoughts shape our moment to moment, day to day and ultimate life, is an important and on-going part of yoga practice. Notice how you react to physical challenges in class, ability to focus, resistance to release or attention to detail. Is the mindset you have supporting you or limiting you? Can you see the same pattern in class also playing out in your daily life?
This quote by Laozi epitomizes why observing our thoughts is so important.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become your habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”