Last week when I went to pay for a three pack of my favorite dry fit running socks, the sales person told me that they were buy one get one free. Excitedly, I ran back to the display and hastily grabbed a second package of colorful Nike ankle socks at a bargain price.
When I got home, I looked more carefully at my free pack of socks and realized that they were the wrong ones! The packaging was essentially the same, but if I had been paying attention, I would have seen the small picture that showed that they were actually three quarter length, not the ankle socks that I wanted. "Rats", I thought, "now I have to go back to the store and exchange them."
We have so many choices today that it can be overwhelming. Every product comes in a variety of styles, colors, sizes, and shapes. At the Supermarket, you have to choose whether you want your milk to be low fat, non fat, half fat or full fat. Or maybe instead your milk isn't milk at all, but made from soy or almonds or cashews or even hemp. Before you do your laundry, you must decide whether you want Tide with bleach or scented with lavender. Or maybe you should choose the colorsafe Tide or the concentrated kind. Oh wait, they have unscented Tide and Tide for sensitive skin too. Searching the crowded shelves for the product you seek can be exhausting.
In my haste to get out of the Supermarket quickly, I often just grab my usual brands out of habit. It makes my life easier to just pick the same brand over and over again. The problem is that sometimes new varieties are developed with similar packaging, but the contents have changed. Or maybe a better product comes out so my old go to product is no longer the best choice for me. Although I don't always follow my own advice, I know that I have to pay attention and take the time to really read the package in order to choose the product that I actually intended to.
Our minds can be like a supermarket. We have a wide variety of thoughts up there just waiting to be chosen. If we don't slow down and pay attention to the thoughts that we choose, we might just grab our habitual ones. We keep choosing them because it's easier than making an effort to think something new. There are so many thoughts that fill the shelves of our minds that it can be exhausting. When our minds are crowded it becomes easier to grab our "go to" thoughts instead of searching for a different and better one.
Acknowledging that you actually choose your thoughts can remind you to be vigilant about the ones you are choosing. If you choose a thought that isn't for your highest good, you can exchange it for a better one.
Yoga Sutra 2.33 teaches, "When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite ones should be thought of." Pratipaksha Bhavana (otherwise known as cultivating the opposite), is a practice that requires effort, but just like exchanging the wrong socks for the right ones will make my feet happier, exchanging my negative thoughts for positive ones will make my life happier.
Buddha said, "All that we are is a result of what we have thought." Choose your thoughts wisely. They literally become you.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras