mind minefields and mantras

At a class I attended this month, the yoga instructor compared self-talk to shopping for clothes. We take a bunch of clothes into the fitting room, and the ones that fit us and serve us and make us feel good go home with us. The ones that don’t stay behind, crumpled on the floor for the unlucky and underpaid attendant to clean and restock. She asked:

Why don’t we do that with our self-talk?

We take all kinds of self-talk with us into the dressing room of our minds, and we try it on, the good and the bad, and we leave with it all, each and every time, the good and the bad.

At least I do. Especially as of late, when my mind has been demonized by negative self-talk:

I’m fat.

I’m lazy.

I’m undisciplined.

I’m overwhelmed.

I’m failing.

I can’t do this.

These thoughts do not serve me. Negative self-talk never serves us. These thoughts do not motivate me. Negative self-talk never motivates us. These thoughts do not drive me to change. Negative self-talk never results in positive change.

Instead, we become what we chant over and over and over in our minds.

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Clearly, God meant for me to not miss this message. At a different yoga class on the other side of Denver, another yoga teacher brought up the power of water to shape features such as the Grand Canyon, simply by following the path of least resistance. She compared this to the negative self-talk that runs rampant in our minds, etching and carving a path for negative energy to follow and build and become. And to combat this she directed us to create a mantra–a mind tool, a desire stated as truth, in the present tense. Here are the two resonating with me lately:

I am light.

I am disciplined.

I have meditated with my mantra both on and off my mat. And it allows me to try on the negative self- talk, but then leave it behind in the dressing room, creating in my thinking a vortex of affirmation instead of deprecation. It allows my brain’s streams and canyons to shift direction, away from criticism, towards love.

I am light.

I am disciplined.