Counter the effects of negative thoughts by cultivating positive emotions
So now that you’ve done the important work of quieting the mind, balancing your energy level, and becoming aware of the connection between your mind and body, you’re ready to begin putting these skills to work to help you effectively cope with the variety of situations you face every day.
Countering negative thoughts
Unless you work in the kind of job that puts you on the frontlines of real physical danger every day, chances are you are relatively “safe” in your office, your home, or school –but still the stress of interactions, work, and business politics can elicit a damaging negative reaction. An insensitive word from a coworker, a fight with your partner, or whisperings of a layoff may not cause physical harm, but they set off a spiral of negative thoughts that can take their toll on your mind and body. You can counter the effects of these negative thoughts by cultivating positive emotions. This doesn’t mean simply thinking happy thoughts. This practice can help keep you from falling victim to negative emotions or events that challenge you on a daily basis.
To cultivate positive emotions, you will draw on your creativity and imagination to cope with negative emotion. By giving these positive “counter” emotions shape and form, you give them “handles” so you can easily pick them up when you need them.
Emotions and qualities like patience, optimism, or energy can be slippery and hard to get a hold of. By associating them with something we can feel, see, and experience directly, we make them more accessible in our lives. The more time you spend focusing on these positive emotions or qualities, the more real they become.
Cultivate patience. Often we are only aware of patience when we’re running very low on it. But have you ever thought about what patience looks like to you? Think about patience in a way that you may not have before–give it shape and form. What color is it? What shape? Maybe you see it as an object, like a tea kettle or a rock, or maybe something more abstract, like an undulating wave or a gentle rain. It doesn’t matter what you choose–the important thing is that it becomes real to you in a way that it hasn’t been before.
The next time you find yourself getting frustrated, for instance, rather than compound an already foul mood, turn your attention to the form of patience you crafted during meditation. Admire its fine details; feel the essence of this mental object positively affecting your mood. Try it with any emotion you wish to access more readily. Slip into the silky robe of centeredness, sip from the tea of compassion, or carry a sparkling outlook wherever you go. By making positive qualities real to you, you can change the way you cope with stress and live your life.
*Excerpt from Healthy Rhythms
Original post 128/2017