50 000 Thoughts

It is said that we have around 50 000 thoughts per day. No wonder I am exhausted at night. And even then it is often a battle to get the chattering mind to quiet down and go to sleep. There always seem to be a list of things to remember for the following day, or something that happened that the mind is still obsessing about. And just as I think there is some reprieve in sleep, the mind gets all exited again and so I get tied up in dreams.

Osho, one of my favourite writers, says that the mind is the subtlest part of the body, and that when you influence the mind, the body is affected, and when you influence the body, the mind is affected. The easiest way for me to get to my mind is through my body, and that is why I like to be on my yoga mat so much. If I try to say to myself to stop thinking certain thoughts, they tend to multiply. When I try my best, through sheer willpower to change the quality of my thinking, I find that I obsess even more about certain issues, and they have the tendency to grow bigger and more ominous as a result. So willpower and ‘putting my mind’ to changing my thinking, is simply not an effective method for me.

When I cross my legs in easy pose, bring my hands to my heart in anjali mudra, close my eyes and rest my mind on my breath, I know that I am training my mind to relax and to be less attached to the thinking process. And as I flow through my practice, from one asana to the next, I can feel my mind calming down, and sighing out a soft ‘thank you’. And every time my mind wanders off and get caught up in thinking, I simply coax it back to my steady, calming breath that dictates the rhythm of my being in that moment. It is through the repeated practising of this, that I can find inner peace and calm. And as I bring my body and mind back in alignment I can feel contentment within myself and an acceptance of my circumstances.

It is true that whatever the mind focuses on expands and grows. So isn’t it better to choose the calming rhythm of breath over the tiny irritations that grow into insurmountable obstacles and obsessions? It certainly is, and I think all of us will choose that without a second thought, but it is not always that easy or simple. I recently went through quite a dark couple of days during which my mind not only dwelled on what was ‘wrong’, but entangled my emotions in such a way, that I felt like a helpless victim of my mind. Not even being on my mat could break the chains of enslavement! Within this time I went to see a homeopath, and low and behold, the tests showed that my endocrine system was taking enormous strain, which resulted in my estrogen and progesterone levels to be extremely low. So my body was influencing my mind in a not so uplifting way. And once, through treatment, my hormone levels started to rise again, I could suddenly feel how my emotions started to stabilise and my mind, once again could start to think clearly and calmly.

We are often too hard on ourselves by thinking we should control our whole world through our minds, but we forget that the mind is a subtle part of the body, and the body a very complicated and intricate organism. . .

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