Overcoming Negative Thoughts

The monkey mind! It leaps from topic to topic very nimbly. It is here now and is there the next moment. It is rarely still and rarely peaceful. We all have monkey minds. Our mind wanders and we rapidly move through hundreds of topics in a space of few minutes. At times we get stuck in the same topic and same pain of the past or a worry of the future. Then our mind broods and broods over the same negative thoughts and builds up a mighty monument with one little thought. Then it becomes difficult to overcome the dark thoughts which have taken root in our mind and move on ahead in life. We spend many years brooding over the past and future and our brooding rarely solves the problem and only increases our stress and tension.

How then can we overcome this major problem of negative thoughts in our mind? A thought is only a thought. It is our reaction to the thought that causes stress. And when we keep brooding over the same thought again and again, it takes root within us. With regular brooding, it grows stronger and a day comes when it is so thick, that it shades out all the sunshine and joy of our life. We find it extremely hard to uproot such negativity from our minds as it has taken deep roots in our system. If we want to overcome such negative thoughts, we must stop feeding them with attention and energy. We must start neglecting them and letting go of them. We must stop reacting to them as soon as they try to take root in our mind. The following story illustrates this truth:

A seeker went to a Guru to clear a doubt. He was aware that it was necessary to have thought control in order to meditate and overcome the vices of mind. Else it was difficult to focus on God and attain self realization He asked the Guru: Is it true that we should try to control our thoughts? The Guru did not give him a direct answer. He picked up a seed and handed it over to the seeker and asked him to plant it. So the young man planted the seed and hoped to get the answer as he covered the seed with soil. But no light flashed and no truth was revealed to him.

The seeker waited for many months for the Guru to give him the answer. Again he asked the same question. And again the Guru picked up a seed and gave it to him and asked him to plant it. The seeker was irritated but kept quiet. He went and planted the seed in a spot next to the first one. Then he spent several months trying to understand the significance of the first seed and second seed. But he was no wiser.

Again after a few months, he went to the Guru with the question burning in his mind. Before he asked anything, the Guru handed him another seed and the seeker went away fuming and planted it near the second seed. He tried very hard to understand the hidden meaning of the Guru’s actions but could not understand a thing. He had no choice. So he went to the Guru again. He was determined to get the answer from the Guru, even if he had to shake it out of him. As he entered, the Guru smiled at him with great love. His anger vanished and with great humility he said: O Master, it is the same question but do not throw any more seeds at me to plant. Please explain to me the meaning of your actions and how to control our thoughts.

The Guru took him for a walk. The last seed had sprouted into a tiny shoot. The seeker was asked to pull it out. He could do it easily. The second seed had grown into a small plant. Once again the seeker was asked to uproot it which he could after putting in some efforts. The first seed had grown into a tree with branches. It was not possible for the seeker to pull it out. The Guru explained: Thoughts are like seeds. When they are freshly planted in mind, they can be easily removed by will. When we hold the thoughts in our mind for some time, they are a little more difficult to dislodge. When we water them with resentment or longing for a long time, they grow into big trees and cannot be pulled out. We must hold on only to thoughts that give us peace of mind and let go of thoughts which make us angry, resentful or vengeful. Thoughts lead to action. Repeated actions become a habit, and habits form a character. A character determines our destiny. We must not make our minds a fertile ground for breeding painful thoughts.

Regular practice of SitaRam Mantra and meditation and following the teachings of the Guru will help us to let go of painful thoughts and clear our minds. Let us plant the seed of SitaRam in our minds and water it daily with love and surrender. As it grows, its shade will protect us from all the harshness of life.

( As told by Omdasji Maharaj to his disciples) 

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