Swami Kriyananda wrote an affirmation for positive thinking: “My outer life is a reflection of my inner thoughts. Filled with the joy of God, I express His joy and harmony in everything I do.” This affirmation is so powerful that Devi and I repeat it daily, and have suggested that others from Ananda use it as a “theme” for the remainder of the year.
If our outer life really is determined by our thoughts, then it follows that changing our thoughts will change our life. Few people truly accept this reality, however. Most drift aimlessly or try to change the people and circumstances around them. They rarely stop to question whether that strategy actually works. If they spent a tenth as much time changing themselves, it would produce much greater gains.
The essential question, then, is how do we change our thoughts? The answer is simple in principle, but hard in practice. We must fight the battle for control between our negative and positive indwelling tendencies. Ultimately, the eternal soul must release itself from the compulsions of ego and the pull of the senses.
As Paramhansa Yogananda taught in his explanation of the Bhagavad Gita, the ego (represented by Bhishma) is supported by material desire (Duryodhana) and habit (Dronacharya). These major players are aided by countless other downward-pulling tendencies (the vast army of the materially minded Kauravas).
Arjuna, “devotee everyman” as Swami Kriyananda has called him, leads the fight for our positive aspirations. His allies are his brothers, who symbolize the spinal chakras, and Krishna (the guru). To win this war we must establish new patterns of thought and habit. Here are three things that I’ve found particularly helpful over the years.
Positive Thinking: We always have a choice between positive and negative thinking. The dice are loaded in favor of the negative due to the long tail of habit, so we need to train the mind to choose the light.
Affirmations: These form new habits of positive thinking. Say them out loud and then more and more softly, until you are repeating them mentally only but with deep conviction. Where the light dwells, no darkness can remain.
Chanting: Many chants are affirmations set to music, which makes their repetition more enjoyable and drives them deep into the subconsciousness. Choose a single chant that particularly appeals to you and repeat it over and over for several days or weeks. This will embed it so deeply that you will wake up with the chant ringing in your mind. One that I have been chanting lately is:
Thou art my life. Thou art my love. Thou art the sweetness which I do seek.
In the thought by my love brought I taste Thy Name, so sweet, so sweet.
Devotee knows how sweet You are. He knows, whom You let know.
Remember, finally, that if you do your best to win this battle, God and Guru will drive your chariot to certain victory. Try, above all, to feel God’s joy in meditation. Joy conquers all.