Thoughts are a little sticky. Some come and go if we let them but others grip onto us like a stain that we can’t remove. When we constantly follow the same thought about ourselves or someone else, when that thought cycle visits us day in and day out, seemingly appearing out of nowhere and when that thought won’t leave us no matter how we try to shake it, that’s obsession. Let’s call it our top ten thoughts. I’m sure you have one or two that you are playing today.
For the last few weeks I have been thinking over and over about a yoga course/retreat. It has taken over my life to the point that I feel I’m not going to be happy until I find the perfect one. We can do this with holidays, clothes, people we fall in love with, or we can have slightly more negative obsessive thoughts about ourselves, our partners or those we are in relationship with.
When we are stuck on a particular thought and we have it at reoccurring intervals we strengthen their stickiness therefore making them more real in our eyes. This in turn will change our behaviour and actions towards that person, action or ourselves. Let’s say you are having a reoccurring thought like ‘my partner doesn’t listen to me’. If you have the thought often enough you will start to believe in it’s validity. When you believe in it’s validity you will look for supporting evidence to back this belief up. Say your partner doesn’t listen to something you said and makes a mistake. You add this to your armour of beliefs and before you know it you have created your own brand of internal suffering, all on your own.
Yoga gives us some tools to manage this clingyness;
Meditation invites you to be the observer of what your thought patterns are thereby seeing them as just energy and energy that can dissipate as quickly as it forms, like a cloud
Yoga Asana stirs up these thoughts during practice bringing them to our attention. The practice of moving your body and moving energy has the power to shift the thought elsewhere
Self study allows you to note and observe your reoccurring and obsessive thoughts. Through self observation you can note when and where you have a tendency to lapse into your conditioned patterns. When you have a sense of this you can start to work more diligent in discovering what can set you off spinning.
Breathing practice allows you to use your breath as an anchor, a technique to calm you if your thoughts are disturbing you
When we have a thought again and again we strengthen that pathway. When we choose to look at an obsessive thought as mere puff of energy and not something to believe in, it will lose its grip on you.
Practice for today: Note through your day what thoughts are on your top ten list. Choose one of the methods above to release yourself. When a dog obsessively chases it’s tail around and around, even the dog realises to be free tail he has to let to carry on.