A Technique to Dispel Negative Thoughts


I have a problem with concentration. My mind does not remain free. As I study, negative thoughts came in my mind, and I started thinking on them this wastes my time… and in such case I don't feel concentrated and this decreases my confidence.

—Mynk, India


Dear Mynk,

Paramhansa Yogananda said that we can be our own best friend or our own worst enemy. Negative thoughts, as you’ve discovered, are not our friend! In fact, they don’t even deserve our attention.

In his Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda shared a fascinating idea: “Thoughts are universally, not individually rooted.” They don’t originate in us, in other words, but instead flow through us. We attract positive or negative thoughts according to the level of our consciousness.

Someone’s whose state of mind is very uplifted may not even be able to have negative thoughts while someone who dwells on negativity all the time will find it difficult even to think kindly of others.

So, what to do? The first thing we usually try is thinking ourselves out of the problem, but this rarely works. Nayaswami Jyotish wrote in How to Meditate that it’s “…”

So, here’s a process you can follow when the negative thoughts surface:

  1. Notice that there’s a negative thought. Don’t react to it emotionally, just be aware of it as something separate from who you are.
  2. Breathe deeply and exhale deeply six times. As you exhale, feel that the negative energy build-up is dissappating—as it will be. You might even wish to visualize those thoughts being consumed in a mental bonfire.
  3. Fill your mind with a positive affirmation.

The affirmation can be anything you want, perhaps, “I am free, I am free” or a part of Paramhansa Yogananda’s “Affirmation for Psychological Success” such as “I am brave, I am strong; perfume of success thoughts blows in me, blows in me.”

Or Swami Kriyananda’s affirmation for concentration, “Whatever I do in life, I give it my full attention. Like a laser beam, I burn from before me all problems, all obstructions!”

If you find that you need more firepower, try this pranayama exercise for raising your spirits:

I don’t know if you have a meditation practice, but it would be very good to meditate at least some amount every day. Over time you will find that it can help you in almost every aspect of your life, including especially this one.

This article and video on meditation is excellent.

A few other things that might help are:

  • Exercising. If you are having trouble concentrating, take a break and go for a brief run.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep. I often find that the most challenging days I have are ones where I didn’t sleep enough.
  • Helping others. This can strengthen your positive energy and lift any mood you are experiencing.
  • Relax. Concentration doesn’t work very well when it’s accomplished only with grim tension and willpower. Meditation can help with this as well.

Don’t try to power through negative thoughts when they occur. They are an enemy that can be strong if you fight them head on, but if you approach from other directions, and don’t give up, you will find that you are stronger.

Joy to you,