Thursday, August 06, 2009

Observing the thought cycle

So lately I have been observing the thought cycle. I meditate during the nights and in the morning.
Do some breathing exercises (pranayama) and then just observe the thoughts or observe the screen in front of my forehead (inner space).
During the rest of the day, I usually use a mantra.
Mantra is pretty useful. Here are a few benefits I have observed:
1) The primary role of mantra that I have observed is that it acts as a reference thought to observe other thoughts that go in your mind. For example, if your mantra is peace. You would repeat it silently in your mind often, so that whenever a negative thought or a thought of lower vibration comes up in your mind, your mantra acts as a contrast to that negative thought and you immediately switch your focus back to the mantra. Negative thoughts could be fears, worries, anxieties, resentment, past hurts, regrets, revenge,etc,etc.
If you don't have a reference thought or a mantra, you can get caught up in these negative thoughts without realizing that you have been caught up. These negative thoughts are like a trap.. They trap you into thinking that it is important to think about them or else... (fear based thoughts). So you think about them, till you get tired or have some thing important to do. Then you get back to your fears and worries. Many a times, these fears and worries come out as a habit of the mind.
2) A mantra makes you realize that with less negative thoughts in your mind, peace comes to the surface naturally. It's like, oh, so my fears and worries were keeping me away from happiness and peace. Why the heck do I have these worries and other negative thoughts anyway?
So, a mantra brings you back to that awareness of the insignificance of these thoughts.
The worries and fears might loom large, they might call on to you. They might say, 'Oh, hey you, you must focus on me. This is important. You must find a solution to this. Or else...(some negative outcome)'. A mantra then brings you back to the present moment and makes these worries and fears insignificant.
3) A mantra makes you aware of how much time you spend thinking negative thoughts, even sometimes without being aware that you are. It becomes so unconscious. You see a person you don't like, and immediately there are some negative thoughts that go through your mind.
Something didn't happen as you expected, and you mull over it, you bring in your worries and fears to that situation. Many of these negative thought patterns are subconsious and automatic, it's like we have programmed ourselves to think negatively when there are certain external triggers. Mantra helps in releasing these reactionary patterns and brings you back to present.

Some people think that when you chant a mantra such as 'Om namah shivaya', you would be trying to please Lord Shiva into give you want you want. That is not why you would chant that mantra. Shiva represents the qualities of detachment, stillness, and peace that are already within you. If you really want something from Shiva, focus on these qualities that Shiva represents that are already within you when you chant the mantra.. Feel that peace, feel that clarity and stillness when you stop paying attention to negative thoughts by chanting the mantra in your mind.

Letting go of worries and fears completely or not?!
So this is where the cycle begins. Ok, so you have this mantra going in your head to make you more aware of what's actually going on in your head! And, now what? What if there is a fear or worry that crops up due to something that just happened? It seems so urgent, this fear or worry, it seems so important. Can I focus on it just a little bit... a teeny-weeny bit?
May be I can. Ok, so mantra on hold! Let's focus for one minute. Is this fear real? Can it actually happen? Oh may be it can. Oh shit, I better do something about it! And at this moment, we have again begun the process of perpetuating the cycle of negative thoughts in the mind.
A few hours later, you are like, 'oh my god', I have gotten completely off-track. I have been mulling on my fears and worries, and have been distracted from my work! Let's get back to mantra. For the rest of today, I am going to make sure that my mind is on the mantra, nowhere else. The next day, you see someone you haven't seen in a while, again the mind presses you to focus on the negativity through a memory related to that- regrets, hurts, revenge! It's important the mind says, I must take revenge for what this person did to me! The ego also begins to press you, since it's getting a lift. Oh yeah, I am getting my revenge!
Another cycle has begun, you have gotten off the mantra and onto this 'revenge thing' and then an hour later you realize, oh I am off-track.

So the question is, can you just totally cut through this cycle of mantra to negativity to mantra and just have the mantra all through bringing you peace? We don't allow ourselves this priviledge, because of the subconsious reactions to sensory inputs. It takes a while, quite a while before the cycles begin to shorten, i.e. you begin to realize that you are in the negativity trap quicker than before and then switch to the mantra. So that's where I am aiming at.
I have been thinking to myself, I just want to let go of my fears,worries, and other negative baggage completely and just have the mantra on or just have peaceful thoughts on. Am I willing to do that? What will stop me from doing that? The answer is my fears!!! Plain and simple.
I do want to let go of my fears completely. This is where I am headed. It's going to happen: Maybe today, maybe a month later, but definitely soon.


Mary said...

I love that you are such an explorer of your inner process and willing to enter into it and work with it. I am creating an anxiety relief program and reading what you are experiencing is useful. Thank you for your openness in sharing your experience.

karthik said...

Thanks Mary, I guess all people on the path are conscious inner explorers. I'll leave you a feedback on your anxiety podcasts sometime soon.