by staff of the Toronto Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre
Our thoughts are very powerful, often more powerful than we think. It has the power to build you up and also to destroy you; it has the power to bring goodness and light to the world or darkness.
With so much power available from our thoughts, we must harness it so it doesn’t run wild. Meditation can help us do this. Through meditation we observe our own thoughts – by observing, we can understand them better. Like a scientist observes specimens to learn and understand them, observing our thoughts will helps us know and understand them better. When we know our thoughts better we can control them.
Meditation is not easy, it is difficult for everyone who tries it. When you begin to meditate there is always a great struggle – so many thoughts in the mind and new ones keep popping up. Thoughts are like squatters, when you try to kick them out, they fight ferociously to stay even though it is your land, your mind! But you must keep trying and never let up. Eventually there will be less new thoughts coming in and existing ones will leave. Persistence is the key.
Meditating is also like working out. When you first go to the gym, it is difficult to lift the weights, you are soon out of breath and your muscles get tired and sore quickly. But the next day you go back to the gym even though it is difficult and you face the same challenges as the previous day. The next day you go again and have the same experiences. Again and again, each day feels the same and you feel like you’re not making any progress; one day you realize that you can lift more weights with ease, your muscles aren’t as sore and you can work out for much longer than in the beginning. This is the same experience as meditation.
As we observe our thoughts during mediation, it also helps us to observe our thoughts even when we are not meditating. If we are aware of our thoughts we can control what we think. Negative thoughts can be reduced and we can use our thoughts to influence things, this is called a self fulfilling prophecy. We’ve all experienced self fulfilling prophecies whether we realize it or not, and we’ve experienced them in both positive and negative ways, and in major events and small, mundane ways. Regardless, the power of thought is always at work.
Try it sometime – next time you wake up late for work, don’t think that you will miss the bus and be late for work. Think that you will make it in to work on time somehow. Mysteriously there may be a traffic jam or some other reason the bus will be late as well so you end up catching the bus and be at work on time.
Keep a constant watch on your thoughts so that they work with you, not against you. Things don’t just “happen”, thoughts change what will happen. So be careful what you think. You may be pleasantly surprised by the result.