How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
What is Meditation?
How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
What is Meditation?
Benefits of Mindfulness: Mindful Living Can Change Your Life
Mindfulness 101: A Beginner's Guide
Do you find it hard to deal with negative thoughts and emotions? Vidyamala shares some practices to stay connected to inner peace.
Hi, it's Vidyamala here.
And I've been asked to answer
the question, how do I find
inner peace when I'm bombarded by
negative thoughts and emotions?
This is such a great question because I'm
sure we'll all be able to relate to it.
Certainly I can.
In this answer, I'm going to talk a
bit about evolutionary psychology,
first of all, to normalize the tendency
towards negative thoughts and emotions.
And then I'm going to provide some
practices or some tips and tools for
how you can interrupt being dominated by
negative thoughts and emotions and move
towards more moments of inner peace.
So let's start by looking a little bit
at some of the insights of evolutionary
psychology, and in particular, what's
known of as the negativity bias.
Essentially what this is saying is
that the way we're wired up to do with
our evolution is to be very alert to
threat, because of course we need to
be alert to threat for our survival.
Whereas noticing things like a beautiful
sunset, beautiful flower, these kinds of
things, in a sense from an evolutionary
point of view, those are optional.
Whereas noticing the tiger that's about
to eat us well, that's kind of important.
So our nervous systems are
designed to be vigilant to threat
as the kind of default setting.
And so I'll give you some stats
on thoughts now, which are kind
of shocking and also reassuring
if you find your mind is dominated
by negative thoughts and emotions.
And researchers think that the average
human being has something like 30,000
to 70,000 thoughts a day, certainly
tens of thousands of thoughts a day.
And interestingly, about 95% of
those thoughts, we've had before.
So we've got the same repetitive
thoughts, looping round and round.
And certainly when I watch my own
mind, that does seem to be the case.
And even more interestingly, in the
untrained mind, somebody who hasn't
learned to work with the mind using
mindfulness and compassion and to
change the default setting, in the
untrained mind, something like 75% of
our thoughts and emotions are negative.
That's so interesting, isn't it?
So if you find that you've got the
same repetitive, negative thoughts
and emotions looping through the
mind, looping through your head, then
that is indeed probably the case.
And that's because of your
evolution, that's because of the
way we've emerged as human beings
with a vigilance towards threats.
Paul Gilbert is a leading psychologist
in the field of compassion studies.
And he often talks about
this kind of thing.
And he says, it's not your fault.
It's chaotic in there, which again
is just so reassuring and fantastic
because I think many of us think we
should have a different kind of mind.
Why can't we have a lovely, loving mind?
Why can't we be like everybody else?
And we project this kind of lovely,
perfect mind onto other people.
And we think we're the only ones with
these repetitive, negative dominating
thoughts going through the mind.
So far, so normal.
We've got a mind and the mind tends to the
negative and it tends to threat awareness.
So then the issue becomes,
okay, so that's the case.
How can we cultivate more inner peace?
How can we find inner peace
when we're bombarded by these
negative thoughts and emotions.
And the good news is that
inner peace is only a breath
away, it's only a moment away.
We can drop into more
inner peace right now.
And inner peace isn't some far away
fantasy state of perfection, but
it's more like an attitude to the
mind, an attitude to our thoughts.
It's a process.
And if you've got a little bit more
inner peace in this moment than the
last moment, that's a great thing.
That's something to celebrate
and you can have even more
inner peace in the next moment.
What I'd really encourage you to do
is to celebrate those moments where
we have a taste of something that's a
bit more spacious, a bit more peaceful
than the normal, uh, mental state
with all these negative thoughts and
emotions looping through the mind.
And the main thing we need to
do, or the main invitation is to
interrupt the chain of thinking.
And we do this by coming into our senses.
One of the other interesting things
about the way we're wired up which I find
really fascinating, is we can't be in
our senses, and by that, I mean really
attending to seeing things, hearing
sounds, smelling things, feeling, touch,
or tasting things, these the five physical
senses, we can't be in the senses and lost
in thinking at exactly the same moment.
We just can't do that.
If we're coming into direct
sensory perception, it's a bit
like that fills our awareness.
So there's not much space left
for out of control thinking.
Likewise, if we're really lost in our
thinking, you'll notice that you've
got very little sensory awareness.
So they're, they're on a kind of scale.
Your awareness is full of the sense,
the less room there is for out of
control thinking and the more you're
dominated by thinking the less room
there is for sense impressions.
So a very simple thing is
simply to come into the sense.
And of course the key
skill here is awareness.
We need to notice what our
minds are getting up to.
So say you wake up as it were,
you can sort of come to in
the moment and you think, wow.
You know, I've got a lot of
negative thoughts at the moment.
And instead of judging that you
think, okay, that's interesting.
I don't need to identify
with those thoughts.
I can just drop into my senses.
Feel the weight of the body on the
chair, rest, breathe out, and then look
around you, if the visual sense is the
one that you want to particularly enjoy.
Look out the window, maybe at
the sky, even if it's a gray day.
There can sometimes be something quite
beautiful about the gray sky when we look
at it with the right kind of attention.
Open up to sounds.
Maybe get yourself a cup of tea, a cup
of coffee, some other kinds of drink or
something to eat and just really enjoy
the taste, savor the taste, and then
notice what's happened to your thinking.
And you'll probably find that the
more you're in the taste or the
more you're in your senses, the
less dominant are the thoughts.
So that really is a very simple,
immediate, um, highly effective
way of breaking the chain
of out of control thinking.
Of course, you might find that you
just bounce straight back into the same
old mental states in the next moment.
That's pretty normal.
But the training is to notice that.
We just keep noticing
that without judgment.
Oops, there I go again.
Come back into my senses.
Oops, there I go again,
come back into my senses.
And what we're doing is were
shifting the way our brain works.
We're actually literally rewiring
our brain when we do that.
And we're cultivating a brain
that's more present, more
embodied and less discursive.
And that in itself can be a doorway
to greater and greater inner peace.
So hope you found that helpful.
Certainly I found it really helpful
just reminding myself as I talk to you.
And thank you so much for your
practice and your courage, your
willingness to look at your mind, to
own up to negativity when it arises.
And to know that there is another way
of being human, there is another way
of being present, open, receptive, and
dropping into the body and the senses.
So I wish you well as you bring all
these tips, awareness, kindness into
your whole life, and I hope it's helpful.
And please know that all these
things I'm talking to you about,
I'm also applying in my own life.
This is what I try to do when I notice
my mind is dominated by thinking I stop.
I breathe out.
I also like to feel my weight
on the chair, feel my body,
and then open up to my senses.
And I find it really, really helpful.
And the brilliant thing of
course is it's always available.
It doesn't cost anything to
look out the window or listen
to something or smell something.
And I find it endlessly fascinating.
Life opens up into greater
and greater richness.
So I really hope that you find this
as well moment by moment by moment.
And remember, please, to be
kind to yourself, gentle with
yourself, patient with yourself.
And please remember, and I'm saying
this to myself as well, please
remember to be open to wonder.
Just to be aware of the possibility
of this very, very moment containing
wonder and the kind of mystery
of what does it mean to be alive.
So thanks again for listening and
I wish you all the very, very best.
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Vidyamala’s tips on catching anger as it’s happening or about to happen are great - clear, practical, and doable.
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