This article appeared in issue #6 of our newsletter,
The Inner Traveler. We spent quite a bit of time this
weekend reviewing the wisdom found here and felt that
we should share it. And since what this group is all
about is sharing those things that have the potential
to elevate consciousness, here it is. Enjoy!
By Swami Satchidananda
When negative thoughts come up in the mind there
are two things you can do. Either you can ignore
them or you can face and analyze them. But you
should never control, deny, or submerge negative
thoughts. If you can't ignore the thoughts, then
face them, analyze them, and question yourself.
For example, if a fearful thought comes into the
mind, first try to ignore it. Because the more
attention you give it, the more it will invite
itself in. It recognizes a captive audience!
Negative thoughts also gain strength by having
you pay attention to them. It gives them energy
that they feed upon and then they will grow in
First ignore it. How would you ignore it? By
putting some positive thoughts into the mind.
Think positive thoughts and cultivate the opposite
of the negative thought. For example, if a hateful
thought comes into the mind, shout from the rooftop:
"I love everybody! Everybody loves me!" Keep on
shouting it. And if you keep on doing that, the
negative thought may wait for a little while and
then it will get tired and walk out. It will realize
that you are not going to give it any attention,
any energy, and it will begin to dissipate in its
But if you are unable to ignore a thought, face it
and question that thought, "What kind of thought
are you? Why are you here? What do you want to
do with me?" If you have trouble putting in positive
thoughts and if the negative thought is more stubborn,
more strong than your new, positive thought, then
analyze. Question the thought, "Hey, come on, tell
me, what is the problem? Why are you bothering me?
What do you want to do with me? Why are you here?"
Challenge your negative thoughts. Utilize your
intelligence to analyze it and root it out. But never,
never suppress negative thoughts. This only feeds the
thought which will temporarily go into hiding and then
will pop out, with more force, at any time.
If you can, don't act out negative thoughts. Because
acting it out will renew the thought or feeling. It is
similar to a desire or habit you are trying to tame.
Suppose you are trying to lose weight and so you decide
to stop eating all the chocolate you eat. How many
times would you have told yourself, "Well, I can just
eat one." The next thing you know, you are reaching
for a second, then a third piece. You may say, "Oh,
this is definitely the last piece." Until the box is
empty, every piece is the last piece. This is because
every time you eat one more, you are fulfilling the
mind's desire and strengthening it. It's like
disciplining a child. If the child knows they can
push the limits, they will. And the next time, they
will push a little more and a little more. Until you no
longer are in charge, but your child is. It is the same
with the mind. The more you give into the negative
thinking or bad habits, the more they grab hold of you.
Desires should never be renewed.
Our ancient scriptures used to say that if you want
the fire to go out, take the firewood away instead of
adding more firewood. Negative thinking, bad habits,
and unwanted desires are like fire. Don't let them
get fulfilled, don't give opportunities for them to
get fulfilled. Then they will slowly, for want of
growth, for want of opportunities to get renewed, they
will slowly wither and die. But, if instead, you
fulfill them every time, they become stronger.
Many people are afraid of knowing what their problems are.
They just want to swallow a pill and forget everything.
Instead they wake up with several new problems. They
want to be ostriches. When there is danger in sight,
they want to bury their heads in the sand. But that
doesn't mean they have solved their problems. Once we
understand and solve our problems we become masters.
There is no other way if you want to be the master of
your mind. No matter how much you try to convince
yourself that you don't want it to go on anymore, it
never happens that way. There's no "last" indulgence.
It just goes on and on and on. But instead, you
should stand firm with your mind: "No, I'm not going
to give you what you want! It's not good for you.
These are the reasons why this will not help you."
Explain the pros and cons to your own mind, as you
would explain to a patient or your own son or
daughter. You become the doctor or the expert.
Talk to your mind as your patient or student, "Okay,
you are looking for one more piece of cake. You may
think that you want it; that it will make you happy.
But how many times did you try that in the past?
What happened? You still weren't satisfied; it
didn't make you happy to have the piece of cake or
just have one last cigarette. How many times did
you say, `that is the last time.' Where is the
guarantee that this will be the last time. And every
time you did that what happened, how did you feel
afterwards? Terrible. So? Do you want to feel that
way again? Talk to your mind like that. You have to
educate the mind and make it understand that by
running after things or by negative thinking, it is
not going to bring you closer to peace or happiness.
Question the mind fully. Help it to realize how much
energy you lose every time you get involved with bad
habits. Remind yourself of all the ill effects that
happen in relation to indulging in the bad habit. And
convince your mind that by developing that kind of
willpower, that power of mind, how great it will be.
hen you really become strong-minded, rather than
weak, people will admire you. Present the positive
side to your mind. Argue the pros and cons of what
you are trying to do and in this way you can educate
The mind can be like a naughty child and you have to
be the parent who practices "tough love." It's
something like training a pet; you don't just give in
every time. If it doesn't obey you, you have to tell
your puppy, "No, I won't give you the biscuit if
you don't obey. If you do, then come and take it."
Only when it listens to you, obeys you, you feel so
happy. Not just by giving in. Occasionally, when it
really feels too much, once in awhile, okay, give a
little rope. Don't be too rough also. Training a
wild horse or training a puppy calls for a firm hand
but a loving heart.
Swamiji is the founder of the Integral Yoga Institutes.
For more information, please see the Yogaville web site