In the world of Western yoga, it is common for practitioners to tout the idea of “positive thinking.” In order to practice positive thinking, the thinker has to recognize that there is negative thinking. When it comes to thinking, both positive and negative thinking can lead the mind into frightening places that bring about suffering. In reality, the only way to avoid mental suffering is to turn off the thinker.
A constant flow of thoughts can lead to depression and anxiety
This might sound like an impossible task because humans have a constant flow of thoughts, whether good or bad or somewhere in between. When we try to manage our own thoughts, we are not aware of the present moment – we are “sleeping,” much like daydreaming. This is no way to live. Many studies have actually been conducted about people who are constantly trying to manage their thoughts and emotions. Those studies show that people who do this often end up suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
Fortunately, there is an alternative. The alternative is to become a recognizer of the thought. This does not mean that you stop thinking altogether because to stop thinking is to no longer be alive. Instead, you recognize the thought and let the body deal with it. The body will remove pollutants on its own – so it will remove thoughts that can cause pain and suffering. This also does not mean that you quit your job or stop interacting with other people. This only involves the inner thoughts that take you away from the real world.
Recognize and accept thoughts but let them pass
The idea of recognizing thoughts but not focusing on them or trying to repress, solve, or manage them is something that can be done at any time of the day. Maybe you develop anxiety when you are work. You could let the anxiety cripple you, or you could recognize it, see it, and keep working. Eventually, the body will rid itself of the thought, so you can continue to live your life in the present.