How Thoughts Affect the Body – And What To Do About It
I’m trying to find an answer to a question that has popped into my mind. The question is: “Where do my thoughts come from?” The answer that popped into my mind was, me! All my thoughts come from me! All of the sudden a follow-up question popped into my mind which was: If all my thoughts come from me that implies, I already know beforehand what I’m thinking about so why do I need to think it? All of this thinking causes me to wonder how thoughts affect the body.
More questions pop in: If I’m telling myself something I already know aren’t those thoughts redundant? When I’m thinking about something I’m basically talking within my head so who am I talking to? If all my thoughts come from me, and I already know everything I’m thinking, are thoughts necessary?
I’m aware I’m sitting in an airport right now, so I don’t need to think, “I’m sitting in an airport right now”. I feel hunger pains so I’m aware I’m hungry, so I don’t need to tell myself, “I’m hungry”.
Is it a coincidence that the goal of yoga according to Pantanjali the ancient yogi who penned the “Yoga sutra’s” over 2,500 years ago is: “Chitta, vritta, nirodha” which translates to English meaning: the cessation of fluctuations of the mind, or quiet down the mind. Is that alluding to the needlessness of thought or even the harmfulness of thought? There is an old English saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. This basically means a mind not engaged (when the mind is engaged and focused on something, it is quiet) can be dangerous and even evil.
Is it a coincidence that according to Psychology Today magazine 80% of our thoughts are negative? And, according to the American Medical Association, most of the disease in our bodies come from our thoughts?
Carpe diem, be present, be here now, the past is history, the future a mystery but the present is a gift - breath! All these sayings, suggestions, and catchphrases create a silent or empty mind.
How Thoughts Affect the Body
- Thinking requires energy. If I am unnecessarily thinking I am wasting energy.
- It’s impossible to focus on two things at once, so when I’m engrossed in thought I am not paying attention to the present moment and all I’m experiencing. You could say I am missing my life when I’m lost in thought.
- The teacher in my life is my experience. When I’m lost in thought I’m not paying attention to the teacher, and I cannot learn all there is for me to learn.
- Many of my thoughts can be misleading and erroneous as my judgments and opinions are subjective therefore reinforcing ideas that may not be true.
- My thoughts (according to some studies) are 80% negative. This can be a huge source of mental stress and a large contributor to disease.
- The quality of thoughts is like muscles; when used they become strong and when unused they atrophy. If 80% of my thoughts are negative, I’m incessantly strengthening a malevolent mentality entrenching myself in negativity. I’m digging myself deeper into a hole that will be harder and harder to climb out of. Like the deeper the addiction, the more intense the withdrawal symptoms.
- Most disease begins in our minds (mental stress) and manifests in our body. A quiet mind, empty mind, present mind is the opposite mind state of that which is producing disease. A quiet mind or as Pantanjali says: chitta, vritta, nirodha is the key or at least a huge factor in health.
- A quiet mind means being present and hearing all that’s being said tuning into subtleties. It’s like we become more sensitive to our experience. This allows our decisions to be more optimal, as well as our relationships. One of the keys to healthy relationships is being a good listener.
- We become less arrogant and humbler as we don’t “think” we already know something because we’re not thinking.
- As I work on quieting my mind, I start to notice these intrusions into my quietness which are my thoughts. I notice the quality of these thoughts and I can see (yogis of old were called “seers”). Once these thoughts are seen I can determine whether they are benevolent or malevolent and whether I want to indulge or not. I become the captain of my ship and can steer myself away from the malevolent and towards the benevolent. If my thoughts happen to be the foundation of my reality, then my reality takes a turn toward a direction of my choosing.
Quietness, stillness, mindfulness or being present is a muscle. It needs to be developed. This means we need to start climbing out of the hole we’ve been digging. Depending on how long we’ve been digging and how deep this hole is we are in for a lot of work.
Yet, if the goal is a healthy mind, peace, and harmony within and without we have no choice but to start taking baby steps in this direction. It certainly will be much easier if I’m surrounded by a supportive community. Like the addict goes to the treatment center and the yogi goes to the ashram feel free to join our classes at poweryoga.com
Another question popped into my mind: Is there an appropriate time to be thinking? An answer popped into my mind shortly after. Yes! Our intellectual capacity and our cognitive abilities are very valuable to us. They are one of many tools at our disposal. This tool is very good at problem-solving (usually). If you are involved with figuring something out like a math equation, business strategy, or what’s the best play to run on 3rd down with eight yards to go in the red zone, then yes, think about it and figure it out and use your tool. But when you’re not trying to figure something out, why are we in a state of thinking? How did the tool become the master?
Don’t let your tool become your master! Take the power back! This is poweryoga!