Yoga Sutra 1.4: You Are Not Your Thoughts

When thinking about an upcoming prenatal yoga class I was going to teach, I turned to my husband and said, “What do you think of this: ‘You are not your thoughts, you are not your emotions, there is an aliveness inside of you that’s above all of that.'” His response? “That’s deep,” as he turned back to whatever sports game was on TV at the time. He’s not much help when I want to discuss yoga.

It’s true, though. You are not your thoughts, and if I learned anything from my recent 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course, it’s this. We all have a tendency, myself included, to get carried away with the thoughts. Indulge in the fantasies of what could happen. Ruminate on actions of the past. When was the last time you let those stories go and just noticed what was going on around you? Inside you? How does your breath feel as it moves in and out? What other sensations are you feeling inside and outside your body?

The tendency is to over-identify with our thoughts and be really hard on ourselves. Or to feel a certain way, and with our thoughts, make that emotional reaction even stronger than the original experience itself. But if you can slow down and connect with this awareness, this aliveness inside you, and just watch, then you’re connecting with the real you and can let thoughts just be thoughts, emotions just part of the human experience.

This is not a new concept. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, centuries old, derived from a practice that is older still, discusses the paths to connect with your inner Divine Self.

The next time you get carried away with thoughts or criticizing yourself, take a breath. Notice what’s actually happening. And be comforted to know that those are just thoughts and the emotions that you are experiencing as a human being.

Questions, comments, concerns, feedback? Always welcome. Thanks for reading.

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