Most people have difficulties to follow the usual meditation instructions you can find.
Some would even say that you could throw most of them to the trash.
I don’t say “throw them in the trash”, but rather that they are not doing justice to the “mental reality”.
How often have you read, that you just have to observe your thoughts or to not think of anything.
If you are distracted from thoughts, you gently come back to your breath, the mantra or another arbitrary meditation prop.
It is well meant and makes a plausible impression in theory.
But it is easier said than done.
These thoughts come from your subconscious mind.
At the beginning of your meditation practice they can be compared to the Niagara falls or a class 5 tornado, which washes or draws you away in no time.
Unfortunately the average meditation methods don’t consider the root of the problem.
They ignore one essential obstacle deep down in your psyche – emotions beneath your thoughts.
Those meditation disturbing thoughts and emotions beneath belong to a “layer of dirt”. It keeps you in stress and keeps you from altered states of consciousness.
They are also connected to limiting beliefs.
Negative thoughts and 5 different mental states, according to Patanjali (from the Yoga Sutras)
Yogis and Patanjali were the first psychologists, who examined different mental states.
A psychological work throughout and examination of the mind is the thousand year old Yoga Sutras by Patanjali.
- Ksipta: Thoughts and feelings come and go almost unconsciously in a fast sequence. So you are not even conscious, that emotions and thoughts wash you away.
- Mudha: Your mind is like a heavy water buffalo, which stays for several hours at the same place. This happens most people after a large meal.
- Viksipta: Thoughts go around aimlessly. In this condition you often have to deal with doubts and obstacles. Thoughts are between indifference and confidence.
- Ekagrata: The mind is relatively clear. Thought and emotional distractions cloud the mind only partially.
- Niroda: In this mental state you find unity (Yoga) between subject (you, the observer) and object. The mind is focused only on one thing, without being distracted by external factors. This is one element of a flow state one kind of altered state of consciousness.
Now you know the different mental states and their influence on altered states of consciousness.
Especially the first three mentioned these obstacles and cause stress.
We haven’t dealt with emotions yet.
According to one of my favorite authors, psychiatrist and spiritual teacher Dr. Hawkins out of only one deeply hidden emotion, hundreds if not thousands of different thoughts can be created.
So it doesn’t make much sense, to attack thoughts during meditation.
It is rather better to take on the roots, the emotions.
Thoughts are only the guides that point you to the hidden emotions and beliefs.
But human psyche developed some nasty tricks, to avoid dealing with annoying emotions.
Negative thoughts and 3 mental mechanisms according to Dr. Hawkins
If you suppress you consciously or unconsciously push feelings aside.
When suppressing an emotion, there is so much guilt and fear involved, that it can’t be perceived consciously.
It is immediately pushed down to the subconscious mind, before it gets to the surface of conscious mind.
With its different strategies and tactics the psyche takes car that this emotion keeps where it was pushed to.
2. Sharing and communicating negative emotions
This mechanism communicates the emotions in different variations to the external world.
There is still the popular opinion of society, that to get rid of emotions and to process them it is a good idea to share them with the environment.
Unfortunately the facts are different.
In the first step of communicating, the regarding emotion is processed and charged with more energy.
As the second step of this mechanism reduces only partially the inner emotional pressure.
The remaining part of the emotion still is suppressed.
If you discharge negative emotions and thoughts with other people in your environment, they perceive this as an attack.
These people are now forced to also suppress, to express or to escape those emotions.
Therefore communicating negative emotions leads sooner or later to the deterioration of relationships.
3. The Escape (quite popular)
Very popular is the escape from negative emotions.
In this case we distract us with different things to avoid dealing with them.
This strategy is the livelihood of different industries (E.g. Entertainment, beverages, etc.)
Escapism is a mechanism tolerated by society.
It helps us to avoid to deal with our inner life and hold emotions back from getting to the surface.
There are plenty of other possibilities to escape from yourself and with time become dependent on the means of escape.
Many people urgently want to keep unconscious and even have fear to deal with their selves.
So, it is understandable, that they are especially afraid, to be alone with themselves.
Symptoms of that are compulsive…
- endlessly talking
- movie watching
- doing drugs
These tactics to avoid being alone with themselves are only helpful to a certain extend.
They are stressful and ineffective, since every activity needs a lot of energy by itself.
This energy is needed to keep the pressure of suppressed negative emotions low.
Suppressed negative emotions, thus sooner or later cause stress.
Negative thoughts, emotions and stress
So the real source of stress can we find in our inner workings and not in the external world.
It depends a lot on your limiting beliefs, how you react to external circumstances.
For example, reacting with fear depends on how much fear is already existing in yourself and how much of it has been suppressed.
According to Dr. Hawkins the world is terrifying, chaotic and scary for fearful people.
At this point there is a connection to the way of how this “material” world really arises and that it is not really independent and outside of you.
So what we have inside colors our world. We focus on what we suppressed one day.
Stress thus comes from the accumulated pressure of suppressed negative Emotions.
Why a lot of stress reduction methods are not effective
What I mentioned before now explains, why a lot of stress reduction methods are no that effective and only scratch the surface.
They merely try to reduce the symptoms of stress or focus on external stress factors, instead of grasping the causes at the root.
Muscle tension, for example, can be a symptom of sorrow, fear, anger and/or guilt
It is well meant to recommend the person affected some progressive muscle relaxation, but only has a short effect.
Getting rid of suppressed negative emotions would be more effective.
How close physical symptoms are connected with suppressed emotions, I could often experience in the past.
One of these experiences I had as a yoga teacher and participant in workshops with intensive long Breathwork sessions.
Because of ceasing tensions, many people got suddenly access to their subconscious mind and were confronted and overwhelmed with suppressed emotions.
This often led to tears, but had a very relieving effect of the affected.
I particularly remember a meditation several years ago.
A woman began to cry and was clearer than ever, that she didn’t want to marry her future spouse.
There was only a little inconvenience. She was only a few days of her wedding.
It wasn’t the best timing, but it was better realizing it now than too late maybe already with kids.
What you can do before or while meditating
Should you give meditation a try again and be confronted with too many (negative) thoughts, you may want to try the “Letting Go” technique of Dr. Hawkins.
It’s a very simple but not easy technique and does the contrary, to the mentioned mechanisms.
The first step is to become conscious of negative emotions, let it come to the surface and stay with it. You let it do, what it has to do without changing it.
Allow yourself to have the emotion, without resisting it, communicating it, fearing it, banning it or moralizing it.
Especially if you resist an emotion, it keeps existing.
You give it the energy it needs for survival.
So stay with the emotion until the energy behind it decreases.
Focus again and again on the emotion behind the first occurring thoughts (symptoms for emotions beneath).
For example, if you have thoughts about a difficult person in your life before beginning to meditate and you keep going in circles, try to feel it.
Which negative emotions are behind these thoughts?
Maybe anger, fear, disappointment or all together?
In this case you work through each of the emotions with the “Letting Go” technique, to shut down the connected thoughts.
Seen from another perspective, we could be thankful for these at the first glance annoying thoughts.
They are like motion detectors and tell us:
“Sorry for the interruption, but you have a suppressed emotion there in your subconscious, which needs your attention.”
Using this technique only once is no guarantee, that the feeling doesn’t come back again.
If an already “processed” negative emotion comes back, it only means, that there are still some small amounts, which need to be let go.
This coming back of negative emotions is understandable, if you suppressed an emotion for a long time.
This can be compared with an inflated air mattress, from which you would like to release air as fast as possible.
So as a first step you sit on the air mattress and get the impression that quite a lot of air is released.
But there is still some air remaining.
By rolling up, folding and weight transfer you can release it too.
Letting go of negative emotions are worth while. After it you feel lighter, reduce stress and can meditate much better.
Accessing and experiencing altered states of consciousness will be also easier.
By releasing and letting go suppressed negative emotions you reduce your risk of having a difficult time for example in a holotropic breathing experience, doing Ayahuasca in the jungle or making a trip to Colorado or other states, where Marihuana is legalized.
If you do this exercise regularly, your thoughts get more and more to the state of “Ekagrata” (The mind is relatively clear.Thought and emotional distractions cloud the mind only partially.)
Now, you may know the connection between negative thoughts, negative emotions, stress and obstacles for meditation created by this mechanism.
Altered states of consciousness are not easy to access for the most part, if suppressed emotions cloud your mind with uncontrollable thoughts leading to stress.
Forcing altered states of consciousness experiences ignoring this, may lead to a “bad trip”.
There is one exception to this. If you choose a lighter flow state experience.
Let me know, if you tried the technique and how you did.