New Year; New Mindset!
Happy New Year, Desh Videsh family!
Here we are at the start of another fresh new year. Typical New Year’s resolutions usually center around improving physical health through diet and exercise. But because of the pandemic, the last couple of years have been particularly tough on our peace of mind, with some even experiencing one of the lowest emotional periods in their lives. Most of us haven’t experienced this type of a situation in our lifetime, so it can definitely take a toll on our mental health.
Two years of chronic stress is a long time to suffer. Stress takes its toll. Not being able to see the end of the tunnel can allow negativity to creep into our thoughts. Therefore, my friends, a good new year’s resolution this year might include a plan to replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
Yoga teaches us that to achieve anything—whether our aim is to feel blissful in life or to achieve our goals—one must be focused. To mindfully maintain your focus, like an archer aiming an arrow you must be able to first clear your mind of unnecessary distractions and not allow errant thoughts to disturb you. Yoga Vasishta Sara Sangraha says that “if the mind is controlled and re-channeled into positive fields, it yields a rich crop of progress and happiness”—a feast of joy.
How can you remain in that blissful space if that personal space (like a private garden) is being intruded upon by a crowd of negative thoughts (like a pack of stray dogs) competing to crowd you out of your own peace of mind? Keeping negative thoughts at bay is a very common struggle! But doing so in a masterful, ancient, awe-inspiring, and peaceful way that restores tranquility (such as singing to the dogs to calm them) is a learned skill.
How can you maintain your peace and equilibrium—and help others find it too—even in the midst of chaos? Yoga Vasistha Sara Sangraha affirms that “peace is my true nature, and so it cannot be created. Only agitation is created. When they end, peace alone remains.”
To achieve peace, we must become conscious of the flow of thoughts and recognize where our minds tend to go. Often, we enter a negative state without realizing how we got there. So, the first challenge (and my focus for today) is to become aware of our current state of mind.
There are small things you can do to overcome this challenge.
For example, one way to remind us to stay positive is by leaving ourselves little notes with positive affirmations. My cousin and I tape little notes to ourselves on our mirrors. I’ve even created a daily reminder in my calendar with words of affirmation. My 10 AM reminder is “I am plenty” (in other words, “I’ve got what I need”; “I’m up to the task”; “I can do this”—“I’ve got this”). And boy, does that encouragement help me when I’m at work!
Something else that helps: I started an annual ritual a few years back. At our New Year’s eve family gettogether, I ask everyone to reflect on, and write down, what we want to eliminate in the new year—whether fear, insecurity, or other obstacles. After that, we burn all our pieces of paper in a bonfire (or using a candle flame). Tangible, physical, memorable, and mindful actions like this can help us shed negativity, liberating us and making us feel lighter and freer. Moreover, sharing this “burning” ritual together helps bond and connect us even closer as a family and mentally reinforces the fact that together, we can help each other reduce negativity in the coming year.
Lastly, Abraham Hicks said that “when you focus on the good, the good gets better.” The substitution of negative thoughts with positive ones can help remind us of all the good there is and help reprogram our minds to attract abundance instead of deficiency. When we feel like we cannot achieve something, it’s best to tag on the word “yet.” Maybe we haven’t achieved it yet – but it IS coming!