It’s a funny thing stress isn’t it. We all say we don’t want it, yet we continually create it for ourselves through our attitudes, beliefs, conversations and thinking.
As Vedic meditators understand, getting stress out of the nervous system is imperative to increased happiness. Lugging all that extra junk around in our systems really holds us back. So we meditate to release it, a little release of old stresses every time we meditate. Yet there is more that we can do in the other 23 1/3 hours in the day we’re not meditating to not increase our stress and that thing is to avoid negativity.
My teacher Thom Knoles always says that we must be careful what we worship – and that entertaining the same thought or experience over and over is worship. And as humans we tend to worship the negative. Thinking all the time about a perceived bad situation, spending lots of energy reliving the experience, telling the story over and over more elaborately each time. So why do we worship something negative, investing all our thinking into that time we were ‘wronged’ or disrespected or felt anger? Why worship when we were cut off in traffic or a friend said something unkind? When we define it as worship, it becomes a whole different matter doesn’t it. It feels downright silly to worship something we don’t actually want more of yes?
This experience is the recycling of stress. Something undesirable happened and then we keep reviving it. This simply creates more stress in our nervous systems. If it was awful the first time, why do we feel compelled to continue recycling the experience? With each retelling we pull ourselves out of the present moment, polluting it with a negative past. We must stop doing this if we want to increase our happiness.
When we are negative in our speech we create not only stress for ourselves but stress in our environment and stress for others. Sometimes we are careful of this, and don’t necessarily speak negatively, with a mean attitude or with a nasty tone, yet we might be thinking it nonetheless. Secretly, in the privacy of our minds harbouring negative thoughts, judgemental tones and down right cruel thoughts. This is just as bad for our nervous systems as saying it out loud. Halting this, also reduces stress and increases happiness.
I spent the entire weekend studying with Thom, a course on Vyasa Vedanta, and he said something that really stuck with me – that every human is doing one thing, seeking happiness as best they can. Once we truly understand and respect that, and the fact they might not be seeking it the same way we are but are still wanting it nonetheless, than our compassion increases. All the ‘negative’ experiences melt away. It’s just all stuff involving other people wanting happiness just like us. Compassion is a remarkable way to cancel out negativity on every level. Let’s embrace more of it.