If only we could think clearly all of the time
As I’m peering through my glass looking at the computer screen, I’m contemplating the idea that we don’t always see things clearly or Avyida.
Avidya means illusion or not seeing, in yoga. It is one of the klesha (afflictions) that we can experience. A western term for the same thing might be thought distortions.
I notice myself having many thought distortions throughout the day, ranging from predicting the future, all or nothing thinking, self-judgment and self-criticism, just to name a few. In the past, I probably wouldn’t have even been aware of these unhelpful thought patterns.
Since I started my yoga practice, I notice when I’m in a thought loop. I’m much more aware of these thought distortions than I use to be, with this awareness comes choice.
I can choose to apply one of the many mindfulness tools I’ve learned that help me break unhelpful thought patterns.
We probably all have a few methods up our sleeves that help distract ourselves from unhelpful thought patterns.
I find five-finger breathing is a great one.
It helps me to stop my thoughts momentarily, a bit like counting to ten does. It’s really simple, starting at the little finger, you trace the index finger from the other hand up on the inhale and down the exhale, carrying on until you reach the bottom of your thumb. I tend to do 3 or 4 rounds. This can be a great way to feel calmer and more relaxed.
Sometimes the thoughts are hard to shift, and the loop will come back, dominating my mind again. This is where diffusion techniques can be more helpful.
Diffusion techniques help us to unhook ourselves from thought loops. They make it easier for us to recognise that thoughts are just thoughts. They give us a chance to question what we’re thinking, even though the thoughts feel real we can check whether they are true or not.
There are loads of thought diffusion. One I find quick and easy is naming my mind and thanking it for the thought. I acknowledge the thought as a thought, which creates some space to unhook from the thought loop and let it go.
Like everything, we can become more skilled at using these techniques by practising them. Start by trying it out with something that isn’t too potent to build the skill before trying to unhook from thoughts that will be harder to diffuse from.
How can we change our patterns?
I know what an impact a deep awareness of these loops and ways to break them has had on my life. This is why I love to share ideas with others, so we can start thinking clearly every day. I’m super grateful that I get to explore these sorts of topics in more depth at workshops and retreats, with other people who love to delve into the layers beneath our everyday experiences. People always leave feeling like they’ve got a better understanding of themselves, new tools to try, giving them a choice of how they react in the future.
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