What is a thought?
Swami Sivananda defined thought as, "a vital living energy (force), the most vital, subtle and irresistible force that exists in the universe. It is a dynamic energy, you are always surrounded by a ocean of thought. You are absorbing some, and repelling some in the thought ocean. The thought world is relatively more real that the physical world."
Thought is subtle matter. it can be felt and perceived. Thought has size, shape, color, quality, substance, power , and weight. A person is not made up of only thoughts, but the quality of thought- negative or positive, determines the quality of one's aura, energy. One can use On'es will to transform the characteristics of thought to more positive in essence, or positive thought.
Thoughts, though imaginations of mind, can affect one's destiny by influencing one's character, what one thinks is what one becomes. Thoughts generate corresponding feelings, feelings get translated into similar actions. If one think one is strong, one becomes strong, similarly thoughts which perceive one as weak makes one weak. So the quality of one's thoughts determines one's character. The power of positive thinking from the mind of a yogi - who has concentrated his thought by meditation - has been found to positively influence the existence of animals and plants scattered over miles around him.
Attributes of Positive Thinking Thoughts
Thoughts being energy, prana, have the ability to attract conditions, influences, and thoughts similar in composition from the visible or the invisible universe around you. The kind of thoughts - positive or negative - one leaves home with in the morning will attract, knowingly or unconsciously, similar circumstances, and situations from people and world around you. I remember leaving home one day after a frustrating quarrel with a neighbor and receiving an uninstigated snap back from a fellow passenger on being politely requested (the mind still reeling under the fight) to grant me some space so that I could fit inside the overcrowded local train compartment.
This happens because like a radio station our thought's wavelength can tune to thoughts, and occurrences of similar wavelengths. In a way we attract what is vibrating within ourselves, transmitting and receiving thoughts of the same nature as our own. Our mind and the body operate as both: a radio receiver and the transmitter. Yoga keeps them strong so that it can transmit ans receive powerful vibrations.
Thoughts travel faster than light, they can reach people and places in a split of a second. Hatha Yoga benefits by slowing the speed of the thought so that one can change their direction towards the desired path. Positive thinking thoughts wavelengths are higher thought (uplifting) wavelengths which cannot be generated easily as they require more prana, or power. Lower thought wavelengths like of negative thoughts are easy to come by as they take less effort or power to manifest.
Yoga practice helps by automatically generating the positive thought as it improves the amount of extra prana needed within the body. Asanas help remove mental blockages by moving the stagnant prana, pranayama helps by balancing the prana by increasing its supply within the body and mind, and relaxation techniques like Savasana, and Nishpanda bhava dissipate stress. Yoga diet and a healthy lifestyle help boost vital energy and meditation purify the thoughts creating a positive mindset.
Thoughts can remain in the environment and become the energy of the place, financial districts of big cities remain absorbed in the energy ( thoughts) of greed, and certain localities reek of fear and lust.
Positive Thinking Techniques as per Yoga
At any given point, in our mind two streams flow intermixed with each other, one positive or aklista and the other negative ( painful), or kalista. The negative stream is muddy and obscure, one cannot see the bottom clearly, one just floats in it directionless and without any control. The positive one is clear and translucent, it allows one a clear view. One cannot completely eradicate the negative stream in order to be with the positive one. The effort should be to concentrate on the positive flow, though the negative flow is present parallel to it within the mind.
One's past deeds play a crucial role with respect to which stream the mind would have affinity towards, those with past negative deeds float endlessly in the muddy stream. Despite this one can use free will to make an effort to direct the mind towards clarity. Faith, enthusiasm, good memory, vitality and philosophical attitudes to life can help one develop positive mindset. Faith in oneself, one's family, society, and mother nature help nurture positive feelings, anyone with negative thinking would find developing faith in these concepts very difficult.
Keeping one's enthusiasm, motivation up should be a daily effort like cleaning one's body, gathering of dust on the body and waning of enthusiasm are bound to happen at the end of each day. Enthusiasm needs to be lifted consciously by seeing the positive in everyday living. A look at the blooming gulmohar trees near the stinking gutters, a common sign in big cities, is enough to trigger one's enthusiasm for the day only, and only if the mind is trained to pick up the positive from among the negative strewn everywhere around it.
One must train one's mind to repeat more of positive thoughts in order to give them more power and strength to remain with one even when one gets drowned in negativity. Begin with writing at least 10 positives from the day before retiring to bed in the evening. Looking for even 5 in the beginning would be a challenge for an untrained mind. Slowly, as one struggles, as the mind gathers more positive mass it begins to see through the smoke of negativity that positivity requires effort to be imbibed, or even discovered.
Negative thinking drains one of the vital energy. One must begin with first becoming aware of the nature of one's thought. Start being aware of the nature ( negative or positive thought) of the thought and then establish the frequency at which the negative emotions repeat themselves in a 24 hour cycle. Now begin to identify the various types of negative thoughts: anger, jealousy, fear, hate etc. Study the negative thoughts, anger is majorly the result of unfulfilled desires, train to let go off the desires which can lead to anguish later. Patanjali has recommended the practice of four Parikarmas which help one maintain positivity of mind. Learn various anger management techniques in order to eradicate it constructively.
Likewise letting go off attachments help one get rid of fear and worries. Understand that keeping the negative thought inside the mind any longer will strengthen it further leading to related complications. Yoga provides a technique known as "Pratipaksha Bhavan", or reversing the thought, in case one thinks negative, become aware of it and immediately think of something positive. Use force, effort to consciously U-turn the nature of the thought. Physically leaving the negative environment also helps one preserve one's positive energy.
One must stay away from rajasic and tamasic environments as they cause most of the negativity. Negative influence can also come from media, movies, internet and music lyrics. Remember, if one bathes in dirty water one will come out dirty. Places where people assemble to uplift the mind like the ashrams (like the ambience at our yoga center at Shahzadpur),temples, churches have positive influence on the mind whereas places like bars, theaters, and shopping malls impart their negative influence to the visitor. One must learn to be conscious of one's thought, as much as pollutants pollute the physical environment, a negative thought can impact one's environment via the Mind.
Yogic lifestyle can help cultivate sattva, sattvic mind is automatically positive. One must learn to develop positive attitudes towards negative events in order to change the frame of mind.
Schools of Yoga - Tools for Positive Thought
The Ashtanga Yoga of Patanjali gives us some tools to help handle our Mind.
Develop a witness like attitude ( indifference) to the negative thought, let it come and go, do not stick to it
Sublimate or channelize a negative thought to a less harmful thought through reason
Focus the mind on the positive only
Visualize in detail the positive qualities and environments you are looking to achieve, positive images so created in the mind changes it nature as well
Use positive words for self affirmation, spoken words carry corresponding vibrations, energy, which aids by attuning the wavelengths of the mind to the words ( positive ) spoken
Practice maintaining an attitude of happiness and a jovial outlook on life all the time
Do not attempt to change the entire thought process ( temperament) at one go, work on one thought at a time
Always keep positive company as thoughts influence thoughts of other's present in the immediate environment
The doctrines of Karma yoga teaches that one is not the doer of any action, but is just a instrument through which the higher authority - God - gets the work done. One must offer the results of one's work to the God, not attach to the outcome of one's deeds as expectations cause negativity. One must do one's best and fulfill one's duty without thinking of the returns.
This philosophy of doing one's karma without attachment to its fruits keeps one unburdened of the weight of profits, gains which can bind one to the material world. Craving for a particular want from one's deed doesn't allow one to accept life as it is, this mind which remains bound to to its wishes is not a free, or a positive mind.
The school of Bhakti yoga teaches one the concept of developing faith and surrender to God's will. The love for God so developed here removes the "I" sense or ego of the devotee on its own and teaches surrender to the God's will. The ego is the culprit which keeps the self separated ( and burdened of its own weight of fears, worries, and cravings) from the universal self, on'es this barrier is removes the self merges with the universal self relieving it all its weight of negativity.
Jnana Yoga teaches one that the world outside is an illusion , or just a creation of one's mind. Everything changes with time and this too will pass. The individual is the complete consciousness which all the others are also formed of. No one can heart anyone or take away anything from one. An individual is sat-cit-anand, or absolute consciousness, bliss absolute, nothing can change that. Every being on the planet is connected to one another.
This helps by removing any sense of attachment, possession or loss from the mind, the main causes of negative thoughts.
Conclusion : Thought is a powerful entity. It has its nature, energy, and quality to it. State of mind is nothing but the prevalence of a the thoughts of a particular quality. Negative state of mind drains one of the vital energy where as the positive state uplifts the mind. Thought can be transformed by the will to do so. Being aware of one's thoughts, consciously replacing the negative thought with a positive one, keeping good company, and living in the moment helps keep one's thoughts positive.
Being composed of energy, prana, thoughts has the ability to influence the surroundings and the environments. One attracts the quality of energy from one's environment similar to the energy of the dominant thought one carry's in one's mind.