A few days ago my son and I were walking in the beautiful Tahoe National Forest in Northern California. We were enjoying the peace and beauty of this magnificent environment: the trees, the wildflowers, and the little chipmunks scurrying around. We strolled along, talking about this and that with long periods of silence in between. Then the peace was broken by two rowdy, yelling people in a noisy ATV (all-terrain vehicle).
Once they passed, our talk drifted to the sorry state of American politics, where greed, power, and fear seem to have driven out common sense. No, this blog is not going to be about politics, but I am reminded of a bumper sticker I saw many years ago: “If God had wanted us to vote, He would have given us candidates.” We didn’t remain on this subject for long—the environment was too beautiful to be spoiled by such nonsense.
Our son, although born and raised at Ananda, has not chosen to follow our spiritual path. And yet, a deep sense of good values and dharma seeps from his pores. As our talk returned to more spiritual subjects, he said, “I noticed that I had a really strong negative reaction to those people driving and acting that way. I don’t like having such judgmental attitudes. How can I overcome them?” What a great question to build this blog around! Here is some of the discussion that followed.
Our thoughts, I explained to him, follow our feelings, which are centered in the area of the heart, the anahat chakra. Think of the heart area as the sending station for energy or prana. Negative reactions send the energy down the subtle spine, and the thoughts that follow are contractive and self-protective. Positive feelings send energy up, and then the mind supports the rising energy with affirmative reasoning. To control our reactions, we have to start by controlling the reactive process in the spine, and this brings us to the science of yoga.
Here are three ways to control the reactive process that I shared with him and now with you.
1) Breathe Your Way Out. The recognition of the link between breath, mind, and energy is one of India’s great gifts to the world. I recommended to my son that his first line of defense be the breath. “As soon as you realize you are reacting negatively,” I told him, “breathe in for a count of ten, hold the breath for ten, and exhale for ten. Do this two or three times and the negative reaction will dissipate like fog under the sun.”
2) Neutralize the Thought. You can neutralize negativity by introducing a positive thought in the opposite direction. “If,” I explained, “as soon as you had the negative thought about the noisy vehicle, you had introduced a positive thought, it would have neutralized the downward flow of energy.” I suggested that he think of something good about the people in the vehicle.
3) Divert Your Mind. “Think about anything except your judgmental thoughts,” I added. Even politics, although the conversation wasn’t exactly positive, was at least diverting. It pushed thoughts of that ATV into the background. Once we had regained our equilibrium, it was much easier to get the energy flowing positively again.
The trees and wildflowers worked their magic, and soon we again were enjoying a lovely walk and an even better talk.
such a beautiful blog and so helpful. I hope that if I can’t manage a count of 10, a shorter one will also help. I have been using the double breath in, double breath out in a similar way when I feel the need of breaking up some negative thought or reaction. Bu I will try the regular breathing instead technique. Thank you so much.
Thank you dear soul. So simple is the answer: remembering in the moment, God’s moment, is the challenge. The response must be practiced consistently and consciously for the action to be easy and natural. Namaste
Thanks for the sharing, The Pointers ensure one from the Negative Feelings.
Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful experience of yours with me. It’s a privilege.
I have heard of taking several deep breaths to take care of an agitated mind and in a way I suppose when is veering towards negativity but not necessarily. This prescription of yours to stem energy going downwards is invaluable. I will remember to actually to do this. I missed an opportunity only this morning! I felt stupid after the episode.
Diverting one’s mind and neutralising a negative thought are easier said than done. I guess it will come with practice; one will have to be conscious of it. I wonder whether using anahata and feeling loving for those two guys in the vehicle and forgiving them is worth a try. Even more difficult? Oh dear!
With loving regards
wonderful reading. i really have learnt a lot from this write-up
Thank you Jotish for sharing your beautiful moments and thoughts. The more I was reading and the more I have seen myself in the process you described. I thought Yes ! This is how I respond spontaneously to negative situations to protect my inner peace. Breathe, think positive and divert my mind. I never thought rationally to the process so clearly. Thank you for giving this important key for awareness. For me it is very much important to be aware of the process for living ever more in the present moment to nourish love, joy and compassion to be able to manifest it everywhere I go. This world needs healing and to help healing we all need to open our hearts to love and compassion, doing our own work on ourselves to nourish our inner peace and the Devine light within us. Thank you very much for helping us in the process, giving us the tools at the right moment. Thank you for your wonderful work and dedication ?
Really like the three suggestions, will definitely use and learn from them . Thank you so much
Thank you for this I have been having negative thoughts and this will help so much!
Jyotish, I use these breathing techniques so often, and always think of my time at Ananda many many moons ago.
Wow, thank you for reminding me how to shift negative thiughts and feelings back to positive. Their are so many things that “take me out” these days, I will remember to remember now.
re: negative thoughts
And . . . importantly, be gentle with ourselves – having a negative attitude toward oneself about having a negative thought
compounds the whole matter. It is like dealing with an errant child. Do the corrective action – whichever you choose — and continue to love and have compassion for the part of us that can slip into that old way. The more compassion I extend to all the parts of myself — the more gentle compassion I can hold toward outer situations. After all — Divine Mother loves us with an unending love through all stages of our unfolding.
Thanks so much for your loving reminders D & J.
I will remember this, too. Thank you.
This is most helpful. Thanks so mulch, Prem-Shanti
Thank you so much for those suggestions. I too have struggled with my reactions to various things. I will definitely work on using those suggestions.
Thank you Jyotishji.
It felt like as if God( through you) was talking to His child( us) and explaining very patiently and lovingly the reason for our existence on earth and how to transcend it in every moment.
May Divine blessings always flow through you!!!
But how do I react to a thief who stole something away from me in front of my own eyes.
Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
Thank you sharing this blog. This is very helpful for us to get rid of judgmental attitude.
Thank you so much for “re-minding” me to take charge and re-direct thought using these simple techniques.
Thank you for sharing this.
so very helpful, I have such a hard time with this very subject. I will print your suggestions and keep the close for reference. peace & blessings
Oh my goodness I really needed to hear this today. I am so grateful for the teachings of our Beloved Guru. Thank you for sharing your walk with your son in the woods with us.
I am very new to this path. Last night I noticed a text file I had recently created entitled “room for improvement” where I had decided to list areas where I was feeling frustrated regarding my behaviour in day-to-day life. Belatedly it struck me that, as a pedestrian, one of my major bugbears for years has been the antisocial actions of many car drives.
But recently I had realised that it was ME that needed to change… because how am I to impact on all those people out there in their metal boxes? So the entry I made last night related to this.
This morning I came to the library to check email and saw my final introductory message regarding meditation. As I said, I’m very new to this path!
In that final message was the option to sign up to regular Ananda/associate messages and I selected the two that seemed to best suit. Immediately I received this week’s message with links to a few other earlier ones so, of course (!), I clicked the one that said “Controlling Our Reactions”… My goodness!
I think I’ll be using the Breathing, Thought Neutralising & Mind Diverting methods for much more than just cars but thank you J & D, that was good/quick work!