Sahaja Adjusts Negative Thinking
How Sahaja Meditation Adjusts Faulty, Negative Thinking
While our thoughts may run primarily on autopilot, the practice of Sahaja meditation can positively influence those automatic thought patterns over time and improve our emotional health and well-being.
Several common negative thought patterns and irrational core beliefs lead to distorted perceptions and faulty thinking. For more information see Faulty Thoughts: Where Negative Thinking Patterns Come From. Here are some highlights of how Sahaja meditation helps adjust those irrational beliefs and faulty, negative thought patterns…
- Balances and moderates our core beliefs, preventing biases, and the irrational tendency to adhere to arbitrary, rigid systems of shoulds, oughts and musts.
- Creates openness and acceptance of the reality that is, rather than what “should be”
- Increases emotional maturity and enhances our ability to view the world in shades of gray rather than in immature, polarized black and white
- improves our ability to tolerate frustration and ambiguity
- Reduces emotional reactivity
- Reduces rumination and obsessive thinking
- Discharges the negative emotional energy associated with negative thinking
- Relieves unwarranted guilt
- Teaches us to accept responsibility for our actions, rather than deflecting blame
A Sahaja perspective
Life is meant to be a journey of constant achievement and improvement of our highest and best traits. No one is perfect, but we have a lifetime to continue reaching, higher and higher, toward enlightenment. The journey is not the straight, linear, unidirectional path we tend to imagine. In truth, our paths often zigzag and spiral as we go through life, making mistakes, correcting those mistakes, and using the lessons learned as compasses to guide our future travel.
It is only when we are able to continually introspect within and identify our faulty thought patterns that we become mature individuals who strive to reach a more evolved plane of human consciousness.
This journey is different for each of us. It is ours and ours alone to mold. There is one universal philosophy that applies to all of us: The journey is completely mappable and controllable when you focus on improving your inner Self. A continuous journey of improvement prevents the development of irrational core beliefs that can trigger negative, faulty thought patterns. The greater the degree to which we are able to shift our thoughts and emotions from negative to positive, the greater our emotional health and well-being. Instead of filtering out the positive or magnifying only the negative details of a situation, we begin to filter out the negative.
How the Practice of Sahaja Adjusts Thinking
A constant stream of negative thoughts running through our minds clouds our attention and distracts us from the important and the positive. The overall tone of your daily existence becomes negative. In Sahaja meditation, negative thinking is associated with overuse of energy in the left or right side energy channels. Endless negative feedback loops are specifically associated with overactivity in the right side energy channel.
Sahaja meditation techniques help you become more centered, and, over time, avoid negative thinking by balancing the energy flow in the right and left channels and clearing energy center imbalances.
At the core of the Sahaja meditation practice lies the state of thoughtless awareness, which confers upon us pure, unpolluted attention that can greatly reduce intrusive, self-damaging thoughts and break old habitual patterns of thinking.
The practice of Sahaja meditation revolves entirely around creating a quieter mind, reducing thoughts, in general — whether positive or negative — so that we may ultimately reach a higher plane of consciousness beyond the purely mental or cognitive level. In fact, as you progress through your Sahaja journey of self-improvement, you may find that negative thinking begins to diminish automatically.
Sahaja meditation increases neurotransmitters and neurohormones associated with positive mood, positive emotions and an optimistic outlook on life, such as serotonin, dopamine, melatonin and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) (Newberg, A., Iverson, J., 2003). GABA has a calming, anti-anxiety effect on the brain by modulating or regulating the activity of other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine (Elias, A.N., Wilson, A.F., 2000).
Balancing expectations of yourself and of others
Through the practice of Sahaja meditation, you become more introspective, self-aware and mindful. You become more inner-directed, rather than influenced by external events or social pressures. You begin to live in accordance with your own standards and self-expectations, rather than obsessing about whether others approve of your actions. “Fitting in” with others doesn’t matter so much anymore. You’re more focused on cultivating positive thoughts and actions, more confident about your journey, and don’t need the approval of others. Those negative thought patterns that have been stalking you begin to disappear.
As Bernard Baruch, statesman and advisor to U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, famously said: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” The practice of Sahaja ultimately takes you to that precise state of mind, and it does it by generating positive thoughts and feelings and enhancing self-esteem and self-confidence.
Through meditation, confidence, optimism and an overall positive psychology instills in you a fighting spirit and the courage and resolve to change for the better. You won’t simply view yourself as a failure and give up. When you do experience failures, you accept responsibility, rather than deflecting blame to others. Ultimately, you learn to appreciate failures as much as successes because failures, in hindsight, become learning exercises. As Bernard Baruch also said, “‘The art of living lies less in eliminating our troubles than in growing with them.’”
Through the practice of Sahaja, we develop an openness to and acceptance of the reality that is, instead of constantly comparing and judging our present reality against some arbitrary, black-and-white standard of what “should be.” We are able to set aside unrealistic or perfectionist expectations of ourselves and others.
Sahaja meditation explicitly focuses on the quality of forgiveness at the level of the sixth energy center. You’ll find that the practice of meditation greatly enhances your ability to accept limitations in yourself and others, which enhances your ability to forgive yourself, as well as other people. You’ll develop more realistic expectations of others.
Meditation automatically increases our perceptual sensitivity to both the inner self and the external world. Because we can perceive ourselves with greater clarity, we’re able to perceive others with greater clarity. Over time, you’ll tend to focus only on judging yourself and refrain from judging others (e.g., labeling someone a “loser”), except when it’s constructive or absolutely necessary. Your thinking becomes less polarized and you become aware of — and begin to appreciate — the many gray shades of people and situations. Thus, you’re less likely to form extreme views or beliefs about others, or to view yourself in a negative light as a result of others’ actions; for example, personalizing or thinking that everything people do or say is a direct, personal reaction to you. (e.g,, What’s wrong with me? It must be my fault!) More importantly, if you’re a ruminator, you’ll develop an ability to quickly move past the past, including; for example, failures, conflicts or other negative situations that were causing you to stay stuck in the past.
Obsessing about the shoulds, oughts and musts
If you’ve lived your life believing that everything must be safe, perfect and hassle-free at all times, you may find that Sahaja meditation dissolves many of your “shoulds,” “musts” and “oughts.” But that doesn’t mean that meditation creates a boring, predictable, no-surprises life. On the contrary, you may find that you’re constantly experiencing awe, pleasure, and fresh appreciation for various aspects of your everyday life. You may find yourself developing an appreciation for life’s daily gifts that others seem to take for granted.
The practice of Sahaja meditation allows you to experiment with various aspects of your existence while accepting your general disposition and psyche as they are.
You may find that you are less enslaved to materialistic desires, creature comforts, and always having safe and everlastingly favorable circumstances. Thus, you are very unlikely to succumb to an irrational belief that your life must always be easy and enjoyable, then end up stuck in negative feedback loops when it isn’t.
You may be encouraged to challenge yourself with difficult circumstances to test your tolerance, patience and resistance levels. The result is that you become more resourceful, creative and open to experimentation, which helps prepare you to solve difficult problems and cope with any adverse situation, no matter how uncomfortable. And so you travel on through life, both enjoying the favorable circumstances and exploring and managing difficult situations and setbacks. Eventually, stressors don’t feel so catastrophic. You’ve gotten better at managing difficult situations and can devote your energy to finding creative solutions to your problems rather than wasting energy coping with stress. Even a seemingly catastrophic situation becomes just another challenging mountain for you to scale.
As you meditate regularly, your patience and tolerance levels will significantly increase. You’re less likely to feel angry, frustrated or irritated, in general, which reduces your susceptibility to negative thought patterns.
Rumination and unwarranted guilt and blame
Sahaja meditation attacks the root causes of negative thoughts and feelings that are creating that perpetual, crippling guilt feedback loop.
A Sahaja meditation practice can include specific treatments that help relieve the burden of guilt, as well as depression, which tends to include unwarranted feelings of guilt. In fact, one UK study found that 6 weeks of Sahaja meditation had a greater impact on depression, anxiety and overall mental health than cognitive-behavioral therapy (Morgan, A., 2001).
The practice of Sahaja meditation teaches you to stay focused on the present, rather than ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. You’re focused on attending to the present constructively, improving yourself in “real-time.” You’re focused on what you can do better now, rather than obsessing over how you could have done something better in the past.
Through meditation, you learn how to detach your attention from your thoughts and feelings so that you can examine them objectively. In attending to your thoughts and feelings on an everyday basis, you become better at identifying them accurately, observing them objectively, and managing them — even in stressful, high stakes situations. You learn to accept your own thoughts merely as perceptions, rather than certain reality or evidence of truth, thus you’re less inclined to brood over them or blame yourself for perceived wrongs.
Some studies have found that Sahaja meditation actually increases our ability to inhibit negative emotional thought processes.
One study in particular found that Sahaja reduced negative emotional reactivity and increased psychoemotional stability and resilience (Aftanas & Golosheykin, 2005). The Sahaja meditators also were found to be better at identifying their emotion, experiencing a wider spectrum of positive emotions, and bouncing back quicker after stressful events.
A 2014 EEG study found that long-term Sahaja meditation practice (compared with non-meditators) was associated with increased efficiency of attention-related activity in right hemispheric fronto-central regions while meditators were processing salient (the most emotionally significant) emotional stimuli (Reva et al, 2014). The authors of the study interpreted this phenomenon as increased top-down control over quick automatic detection of emotionally significant stimuli, the sort of “Alert Central” data typically processed by the amygdala. The Sahaja meditators experienced enhanced top-down attention control and emotional regulation (mediated by the frontal lobe).
Another 2016 MRI/Voxel-Based Morphometry study of long-term Sahaja meditators found increased gray matter volume in these brain regions, which may help explain the enhanced top-down emotional processing (Hernández et al, 2016). Increased gray matter volume found in these attention and emotional regulation regions suggests that the regular practice of Sahaja may foster the ability to flexibly appraise and manage our own negative emotional states (Reva et al, 2014).
If you’ve had a past tendency to get bogged down in negative thinking, you may find that meditation changes the entire tone of your daily existence. It becomes much easier to challenge your own faulty thought patterns and adjust them to positive, balanced thinking.
Aftanas L, Golosheykin S (2005) Impact of regular meditation practice on EEG activity at rest and during evoked negative emotions. International Journal of Neuroscience 115: 893-909.
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Hernández SE, Suero J, Barros A, González-Mora JL, Rubia K (2016) Increased Grey Matter Associated with Long-Term Sahaja Yoga Meditation: A Voxel-Based Morphometry Study. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0150757.
Morgan, A. Sahaja Yoga: An ancient path to modern mental health. Transpersonal Psychology Review. 2001. 4:41-49.
Newberg, A.B. and Iversen, J. (2003) The neural basis of the complex mental task of meditation: neurotransmitter and neurochemical considerations. Med. Hypotheses 61(2), 282–291.
Reva NV, Pavlov SV, Loktev KV, Korenyok VV, Aftanas LI. Influence of Long-Term Sahaja Yoga Meditation Practice on Emotional Processing in the Brain: An ERP Study. Neuroscience. 2014; 281:195–201.