Close your eyes. What do you see, hear, and feel? If you’re like many others, your mind may be racing with so many thoughts that you can’t keep them all straight. Quiet and stillness are key pieces in cultivating positivity in your life. The over-stimulation of the modern world can create a detachment from the present moment, causing you to be sucked into the chaos. Positivity is a choice that can only happen if you create space between the input of stimulation and your reaction to it. Cultivating quiet in your life and your mind can create this space.
In the yoga philosophy, outlined by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra, pratyahara is the principle of withdrawing from the senses. This may involve sitting or lying in stillness, with eyes closed and with a focus on breath. Some monks sit in the mountains and practice pratyahara for hours a day, but it can also be done in a brief moment, in the middle of your daily activities. In order to create quiet, practice taking a step back from your immediate experience and enter the perspective of “observer.” Instead of reacting instantly to what is occurring, just notice what you are sensing and feeling. Don’t judge anything as “good” or “bad,” just notice. Breathing can help and focusing on the breath can be an effective way to channel your thoughts as you detach from your surroundings.
Once you are able to quiet your mind and observe your thoughts, feelings and experience, you may gain insight into your highest wisdom. You can observe how you are responding to the circumstances in your life and make a choice as to how to respond. You may gain clarity about a situation that had previously confounded you.
Clara is a successful medical practitioner with a growing practice. She recently hired a new office manager to help manage the growth. After an initial trial period, it became obvious that the person she hired was creating a toxic environment in the office. After speaking to her several times it became obvious that her office manager was unwilling to change and she was becoming highly stressed about what to do. The stress was starting to impact her energy when treating her patients and she knew she needed to make a change.
After speaking to Clara about the situation, I asked her to stop talking and be quiet. I encouraged her to take a few deep breaths and find inner stillness. Then, I asked her what her highest self was telling her. She smiled and said, “I have to let her go and find someone whose energy is a better fit with the positivity that I am creating in my practice.” Once she was able to quiet the chaos in her mind and sift through her emotions around the situation, the answer that she needed appeared. I could see the relief on her face and the stress had all but disappeared. Although she still had to deal with a very challenging situation, she was doing it from a place of conscious action, as opposed to emotionally charged reaction.
Positivity originates in the left hemisphere of the brain, which is typically the more analytical, logical hemisphere. While your input of stimuli, gathering of information and feelings filter through the right side of your brain, it is the left side that makes the ultimate decision about how to respond. The more space you can create between the chaos of the inputs and the choice about how to respond, the more likely you are to access positivity. As you navigate through your life, take a moment (or many) to stop, breathe, and be quiet. Be still and see what truth comes out of the silence. The path to positivity is filled with nothingness.