How Meditation Can Help Stop Negative Thought Patterns

by GEM Magazine / Apr 29, 2015 / Comments

I've been meditating for many years, but there are still days when I feel like it's something I need to tick of the to do list. On some days, particularly when I'm in the middle of a big project, it can feel hard to put even 10 minutes aside for meditation practice. The driven voice in my head tries to convince me that this practice of pausing and connecting with presence is a waste of time. But it's especially on those days, when I manage to recognize those sabotaging thoughts for what they are, that I find so much benefit from meditating.

When I sit to meditate on these days, I immediately notice the tightness in my chest and throat and the underlying agitation of my stress. I notice my mind is spewing out to do lists in a way that makes it nearly impossible to get up and just do it all. Then I see what is happening.

Ah, agitation is here.

It's through making room for meditation that I get to more consciously connect with myself and my state of being and realize that my sense of urgency is actually being fueled from a physical state of tension and stress. By the end of my meditation session, I settle back into a feeling of calm presence. I'm grateful for how this practice has taught me to discern between thoughts that are worth listening to vs. thoughts that are psychic garbage which need to be discarded.

The gift of meditation has taught me how to relate to my thoughts in a completely revolutionary way. I can't believe this education isn't mandatory at primary school. Through the practice of meditation I have come to realize and understand that thoughts can be likened to having a radio on in the background of your mind, and sometimes the channels that you're tuned into are full of rubbish. The difference is that when you're listening to a radio, if there's a channel you don't like, you can easily fix it by changing the station. However, for many of us, when it comes to our thought stream, we sit there tuned in and immersed in a toxic running commentary without changing the station.

Until I learned the practice of mindfulness meditation, I was a prisoner of my own thoughts. When we believe that all the thoughts we have are the truth, our possibilities can be restricted by limiting beliefs that could obstruct our full potential.

"Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny." Gandhi.

So how do you know which thoughts to trust? It's usually the negative thoughts that have a particular power to affect our destiny. So next time you are having a thought which in some way is self critical, judgmental, worried or stressed, take a mindful moment, pause, and ask yourself if this thought is supporting you to be the person you want to be. Recognize the emotion behind the thought that might be driving that type of thinking.

Is there fear, overwhelm, stress, hurt, anxiety, shame or anger? By getting to the root of the emotion behind the thought you can then make wiser decisions about how to respond to what is triggering that emotion.

Five steps to finding greater emotional freedom through mindfulness;

1. Notice when you are having a thought that is negative or creating emotional discomfort.

2. Ask yourself, is this thought moving me towards or away from what I value and how I want to be living?

3. If you discover the thought is moving you away from who you want to be and how you want to live in the world, then simply let the thought go and unhook from the toxic radio station in your mind that is sending you unhelpful messages. Realize that this thought, is just a thought and not an authority.

4. Take a moment to bring compassion to yourself as you recognize and uncover the underlying emotion that is fueling these negative, unhelpful thought streams.

5. Remind yourself that the nature of the mind is to think. It is constantly producing thoughts, some of which are creative and inspired and others which are holding you captive and bringing you down. Realize that you don't have to believe every thought that comes into your mind.

Mindfulness - the discerning capacity to be aware of what is happening from moment to moment, helps you guard your own mind, carefully choosing which thoughts you are letting influence your choices and life.

By Dr Elise Bialylew

Elise is the founder of Mindful in May, an online global mindfulness campaign. An out of the box thinker, doctor trained in psychiatry, and mindfulness meditation teacher, she brings her diverse training to coach people around the world to reach their full potential. Her work has been featured in the Huffington Post, New York Times, and on National Australian Television.

Learn the skills of mindfulness by registering for the Mindful in May global mindfulness challenge and help raise money to transform the lives of those in need in developing countries.
http://www.mindfulinmay.com

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