It would seem that many of us have developed habits of thinking which generate negative emotions and we thus become rather good at making ourselves feel bad!
“As a man thinketh, so is he” ~ James Allen
Unfortunately the habits are usually unconscious and it requires quite a high degree of self knowledge to become aware of them (let alone to change them). Hence the enormous popularity of many forms of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.
Meditation techniques like Mindfulness, TM and Vipassana teach us how to remain steady, calm and detached while being aware of the ever changing current of thoughts and sensations. This is a skill and takes practice.
Personal development teachers such as Anthony Robbins teach us that we can change our moods and thoughts by changing the focus of our thoughts or by changing our physiology. This is relatively easy and many of us do it automatically, such as going for a walk or a run when we need to clear our mind or resolve a problem.
The psychology of Yoga uses all of these approaches. In doing the postures and breathing and observing the effects on our body and mind we deepen our self awareness. If we practise regularly (even if only for a few minutes) we notice how different we are each day. This depends on so many factors; what we’ve eaten, how we slept, what we dreamed about, the climate, the time of the month, the preoccupations we have at that moment….. it usually becomes pointless to try to analyse why a pose, which was easy yesterday seems hard today and simpler to just accept that this is just how it is, this is how the current is flowing at this moment. At the same time, in doing a practice, we notice how it changes us, changes our energy level, our thoughts and our mood.
There is a little bit of extra magic that we can use. We can DECIDE how we want to feel by having an intention a ‘Sankalpa‘. This is a positive resolve which comes from our intuition about what we need. It is best determined by taking a few moments to relax, tune in to how you are and asking the part of yourself that knows, the question ‘if there were something I need right now what would it be?’. Then rather than trying to think of something, you wait patiently for the answer to come. The first thing which arises is usually the most appropriate. I find that 9 times out of 10 people who thought they wanted more energy actually find they want to relax and are often surprised at this. It could be to enjoy your day, no matter what arises, or for the solution to a particular problem to come to you by lunchtime. Imagine, before you do your practice, how it feels to have your intention fulfilled, then look back at the end of the day to see how it worked its magic.