Although my last post was specifically about whining and complaining, the suggestions I’m providing here can work for moving through any kind of ingrained pattern. I also wanted to remind you that it’s time to set aside that 10 minutes to pray for peace — see Collective Prayer Sunday page for more info.
Over the years I’ve tried many things and used many practices to shift out of negative thinking and I really think the whole conglomeration has had an impact. Ingrained patterns are tough to shift and the more deeply embedded they are, the greater the challenge. I’ve found that it often helps to keep coming at it from different directions.
That said, I am NOT suggesting that every person out there needs to try every single thing on this list; nor do you need to do every thing that’s listed under any given category. See which two or three you’re drawn to and try those. I also find that over time my intuition about the next step often changes, so I’ve regularly put down one practice and picked up another. There are also things I’ve done faithfully for years.
Every person is going to find their own path to healing patterns and often one person’s won’t look much like another’s. I always say whatever works for you is the right thing to do. Often a friend of yours will achieve dramatic changes with a practice or a workshop that leaves you scratching your head and wondering why nothing is happening. Something else will work for you that leaves your friend mystified. Doesn’t matter. You both found something that helped.
The following list is nowhere close to exhaustive, but represents things I’ve tried or that have helped friends. It covers a lot of territory and lets you work on different levels of your thinking patterns.
1. First, drop any idea that there’s a quick fix. While there are people who have sudden dramatic epiphanies that change everything, most of us slog through overgrown paths, clearing out underbrush, circling back periodically to the same place and meandering down blind paths and twisting by-ways. Sometimes for years. Try to stay in the moment and enjoy the journey without worrying about when and how it will end.
2. HEAL THE ANCESTORS. Ingrained patterns often are learned from family or even inherited in the DNA. Look carefully at all family members and all family history you know (by memory is fine) and see if you see the pattern operating there. Sometimes it’s easier to see how it operates in others. See whether you understand any more about how it arose in the family and how it affected you
- Use the ho’oponopono prayer to heal in yourself the patterns/issues you see in your family members. I’ve discussed the prayer and presented examples of it here, here and here. Change the words of the prayer to suit the pattern you’re working on as needed. If necessary, say individual prayers for individual people as well as separate prayers for each pattern. Keep saying the prayers daily until you don’t see the pattern any more.
- Create a ceremony to heal the pattern in your ancestors
- See a shaman or healer who does work on ancestral issues
- When you feel pretty complete with exploring and releasing these patterns, do something to forgive everyone involved, whether you create a ceremony, say a prayer or chant the lovingkindness chant for each person.
3. CHANGE YOUR MIND. When you have ingrained patterns you have created neural nets that let you automatically react the same way every time the same trigger is encountered. You need to create new neural nets and a habit of responding from those in order to shift a pattern.
- Pay attention to your thoughts and note what the basic thinking patterns are and how and when they are triggered. Then write some affirmations that turn those thoughts around. Don’t try too many at once. Just pick a few and when you feel like you’re getting better add a few more.
Example: I caught myself thinking regularly about not feeling well, with many variations on the theme. I created an affirmation: “I AM healthy and full of energy every day.” I asked my higher self to pay attention and poke me every time I started the mental whining about my health. Increasingly I began to replace the “I’m not well” thoughts with thoughts about wellness.
- Use affirmation recordings, subliminal or otherwise. I’ve mentioned before that I created a Spotify list that has a bunch of Dick Sutphen’s affirmation/subliminal recordings and I keep it running very softly on my computer pretty much all the time. There are TONS of other recordings available on YouTube and elsewhere on the web so if you don’t like my list or don’t like Sutphen, create your own. You don’t have to play affirmations loud enough to hear the words; your subconscious can get the message. I like to have it so if I tune in I can hear it softly running, but otherwise I don’t even notice it. I’ve been amazed at how much difference it has made.
- Instead of watching only news or standard TV programs, spend an hour or two watching films like What the Bleep Down the Rabbit Hole, The Secret, Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, etc. Anyone with more suggestions of equally uplifting, positive-thinking films, feel free to chime in in the comments.
- The core holding places for many negative thinking patterns are repressed emotions/memories. When you explore those hidden places and release the old wounds, many thinking patterns change on their own. Explore the past and find ways of identifying, facing and releasing issues. For me, it was a special version of the Fischer-Hoffman process; my teacher, the late Ellen Margron, used 25 years of experience to re-fashion the work into a months-long, more wide-ranging, deeply transformative experience than the one week intensives usually on offer. The week-long sessions are powerful also (according to others I know) and still available (see here). Louise at Dare Boldly talks about a program that sounds great called Choices. I’ve known a number of people who had great success with H. Almaas’ Diamond Heart work. Some people like The Work. Others Lifespring. There are so many more. Just find a teacher/workshop to which you’re attracted that involves shifting out of old patterns, addressing issues, etc. and do the work.
- Mindfulness. Even if you don’t choose to “sit vipassana”, you can work on being mindful. The more aware you are in every moment, the more you can stay on top of the process of changing your mind. Most unhappy thoughts arise from things in the past. Keep your mind in the moment and it’s easier to stay away from those patterns.
4. HEAL YOUR BODY. If you have ingrained patterns in your mind, chances are you have patterns in your body as well. Often those negative thought habits and the emotions that underlie them create tight muscles and rigid muscle holding patterns. [Other types of ailments caused by issues/emotions are beyond the scope of this piece and my expertise] As flexibility and flow are restored in your body, it’s amazing how much it can impact what goes on in your mind.
- Acupuncture works very well with energy blocks. Using tiny needles (really not painful and trust me, I never liked needles), acupuncture opens energy meridians so that energy and blood can flow in balance. This can help with many health issues, but it can also help to heal tight muscles.
- Bodywork comes in so many varieties, I can’t name them all. But the several most effective modalities I’ve used are: CranioSacral, Bodypatterning (a school is just starting so there will soon be more practitioners in more places), Postural Integration (an offspring of Rolfing), St. John’s Neuromuscular Therapy.
- Some movement practices really help release holding patterns. If you work in between bodywork appointments, you’ll find it goes much more quickly. Plus, once you know how, you can keep patterns from settling back in and head off new patterns that might arise from accidents, etc. before they can take hold. Traditional hatha yoga — not aerobic yoga, not hot yoga, just old-fashioned basic asanas — is quite helpful at loosening patterns. I wound up working with Robert Masters Psychophysical Method and re-worked a lot of his stuff into sets combined with yoga and it has had AMAZING effects. I plan to have some content about that available on a new site by early 2016. In the meantime, Robert Masters was a student of Feldenkrais, as was Thomas Hanna, whose Somatics work is readily available on the west coast (not sure about farther east). Feldenkrais classes are available in many places.
5. MEDITATE. Divine connection is so very healing. And some forms of meditation can help you to let go of patterns and thoughts.
- Focused meditations. There are so many forms of meditation that train you to focus and empty your mind. From techniques that focus on the breath, to staring at a candle or a wall, to counting, these types of meditations help train you to stay in the moment with a quiet mind. The more you can hold that space, the less you will find your mind staying in negative grooves.
- Guided meditations: I think there may be dozens of recordings for every topic you can imagine, from releasing anger to attracting abundance or stimulating creativity or healing, etc. you have multiple choices. Because these meditations put you in an altered state, the messages for releasing old thoughts or accepting new patterns can settle more deeply than just having those thoughts in ordinary consciousness. On any given topic they often say to do it daily for 30 days. If you really want it to sink in, I think you can plan on multiplying that — how many times depends on how deeply a given issue is ingrained.
- Moving meditations, like Tai Chi and Chi Gung, can not only help with mindfulness but also tend to open energy flow and thus can help shift patterns. If you do them in silence and focus on breathing with the movements, it’s also a great way to learn mindfulness. For those who don’t like to “just sit”, these practices are a great alternative — and healthy too.
6. CREATE COMMUNITY. In Buddhism they call it Sangha. When you form a community of people with similar goals and beliefs, you create a system of support. In a world where most of the thinking is negative and little supports your effort to change your thinking, it really helps to surround yourself as much as you can with people who are also seeking a positive view, the end of negative patterns. If you don’t have people where you live, the internet provides so many opportunities to connect to like-minded people that you can form your own community from wherever you live.
If you’re constantly surrounded by people who whine, complain or in other ways spout negativity, it’s very hard to hold a peaceful, positive center within yourself. So not only is it a good idea to find supportive like-minded friends, but to spend less time with the naysayers.
Well, there you go. Not the definitive end-all list, but plenty of things to try. They’ve helped me. I hope they help you too.