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Detach from the Negative Narrator

The Self-narrator is loud when you are on the mat. Whether the voice in your head is talking about thoughts that correlate with your practice on the mat or thoughts off the mat - that voice is loud and clear during yoga practice. There is nowhere to hide, nothing to busy your hands with, no buttons to push or screens to swipe, there is no safety cord to pull or another person to "pass the conversation" off to. You are virtually alone with you. Your thoughts, your self-talk.

Averaging fifty to seventy thousand thoughts a day, with an average yoga class running 60 minutes long , that's a whole lot of thoughts on the mat. A whole lot of words that are writing your story. 

What story are you telling yourself on the mat? Is it a gentle story, a love story or is it full of ridicule, negativity and shame? Is it a story of victory and triumph or of sadness and anxiety. The great thing about practicing yoga, whether in packed room or alone ... whether it's 98 degrees or 68 ... whether it's vinyasa, yin, restorative or hatha ... your time on the mat becomes the empty pages of your personal storybook with your narrator imprinting their font loudly across in permanent marker. 

Unfortunately, much of my story is negative while I'm on the mat ... full of anxiety, shame, criticism and negativity. The voice telling me I am not enough, that everyone is better, that I will never belong, that I will never accomplish anything, that I need to fix myself. My outward appearance and my inward self all need to be made over, are not successful - at least according to what plays in the backdrop of my mind.   My story is never a love story to myself. Sounds like I deserve a pity party right?  Yes, that would be lovely, but I am not alone. Because of the culture we live in many of us are conditioned to ride the negativity train. 

Group pity parties may sound easy, however the better route - the yogic way - would be engaging in self-awareness ... digging into the root of these mental chatters of replays of negativity. Flipping the script and replacing harsh words with uplifting words, reshaping the conditioning of the mind from decades of toxic word intake. The yoga studio, the yoga mat are the perfect environment to pay attention to ourselves, taking care of you as your mind shifts and your body moves to feel your feelings and to hear your thoughts, using them as fuel to move through your practice. Witness and try to understand, while redirecting feelings and thoughts. In yoga it is believed that much of our suffering is from attachment, if we can un-attach from judgement of ourselves, expectations and rules made up within our minds for our own person we can gain independence from negativity, changing that self-narrator.

Repetition over and over, is what instilled the negative thoughts in the first place. Therefore, the best way to form healthy habits is through repetition. But habits won’t change overnight. Eventually  repeating more balanced thoughts to replace the negative ones will begin to condition a sweet and more loving self-narrator. 

Active Ways to Breed Positive Repetition:

1. Journaling - Writing down realistic or positive thoughts can also help them take hold. Anything that helps create a new narrative in your head can filter out the negative thoughts. Possibly easy list taking, a list with physical attributes you like about yourself. A list formulated by your spouse or best friend about what they love about you. A list of accomplishments. Another helpful journaling tactic is writing out how you would like to view yourself. These are just a few to begin with - Pinterest is full of ideas :) Much of the world are visual beings, writing these words on paper can be very helpful in repetition use for the brain. 

2. Writing and creating a deck of affirmation or thought cards — where you write the thoughts you want to have on cards. When you begin or catch self negative talk, take the deck out and begin  to read  each card to yourself. Over and over again. 

3. Catch - Release - Transform - When you find yourself thinking negative thoughts CATCH the thought - become aware and acknowledge without judgement, RELEASE the thought through the fact: our brains are not fact checkers, our thoughts are only perceptions and opinions, ever-changing and TRANSFORM the thought by replacing it with its positive counterpart or positive affirmation.

4. Breath to Words on the Mat - As you move through your yoga practice on the mat give a word to every inhale and a word to every exhale. The breath in becomes a word, thought or feeling you want to bring in and the exhale is one that you would like to let go. For example, inhale present, exhale past. Inhale beauty, exhale criticism. Inhale love, exhale abuse. By the time you finish your 60 minute practice the repetition of positivity will continue to ring off the mat. 

5. Podcast Movement - If you can't seem to come up with the positive words on your own, think about taking a walk while listening to a podcast on positive self- talk. There are literally hundreds of episodes floating out there with this topic, pick one and lace up your shoes and get out in nature to fully take in the words playing. 

6. Love letter - Write a love letter to your younger self the child you were or the maybe the teen or the adult you are now, tell he or she how much you love them, how proud you are of them, what tye have been through, what they have accomplished who they are right in this moment is exactly who they came to be and their journey matters. 

7. Share and surround yourself with positivity. Get a good group of supportive friends that rain on you with positive energy and uplifting conversation and support while you give in return. Feel out of sorts in your current social circle? Good Juju has a Women's Circle meeting this March 5th at 7 pm (Women’s circles are an ancient practice that honors female ancestors in sacred space through unity, ritual and holding our fire at the center. This monthly meeting will provide a safe space to connect, share, support and empower each other.) There are many book clubs, networking groups and church groups that offer such uplifting energy as well, get lookin!

As you practice, you can start to transition into some more positive thinking, starting to instill a different style of thinking, slowly but surely - REPEAT - REPEAT and REPEAT. 

Written By Brooke H.

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