Newsletter March 2012
Cultivating a positive mind
Swami Sivananda (the guru of Swami Satyananda) saw every moment as an opportunity for sadhana or spiritual practice. Even when negative situations or thoughts arise he advised not to become immersed in the negative emotions but instead practice the opposite emotions. Swami Sivananda advocated being aware of the stagnations of mind and spirit, side-trackings and temptations in one’s life, so that we don’t get lost in them. We share with you here a section from an inspiring verse Swami Sivananda wrote titled ‘All about Divine Life’ as a reminder on how we can cultivate positive emotions in our lives:
“Return love for hatred. If you are not able to do that, be indifferent, but never meet hatred with hatred.
Cherish love in your heart; cherish goodwill, toleration and sympathy for all mankind. Let your life be not one of lip-service. Let it be a living expression of love, sacrifice, wisdom and courage.
Do not twist words, facts and topics. Do not try to guise the truth. If the truth be unpleasant be silent, but do not resort to, or support, untruth.
Make your life a worthy expression of the spirit of goodness”.
The Divine Life Society (2002). Gurudev Sivananda (2nd ed)., Himalayas, India: The Divine Life Society.
When you are feeling tense, laughter is always the best medicine to relieve stress. A recently developed form of yoga is laughter yoga which employs self-triggered laughter, and combines laughter with pranayama (yogic breathing). It is a great tool to use to lighten up and not take life so seriously. Even if you don’t feel like laughing, you can always fake it until it becomes more natural. The body doesn’t differentiate between real and fake laughter - they both give the same physiological and psychological benefits. Studies show that laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being.
Simple ways to stimulate laughter include first warming up with techniques such as chanting, clapping and body movements, which are good ways to let go of inhibitions. Laughter yoga is best done in a group as laughter is infectious. The initial forced laughter turns into real and contagious laughter, which provides a wonderful catharsis and feelings of release and joy. So dedicate a good ten minutes to making yourself laugh unconditionally with a group of friends or family. Use eye contact and childlike play, such as making animal noises and different laughing sounds. It is also good to practice laughing at things we normally take so seriously. For example you could create a role play with your partner or a friend where you show one another your credit card bills with silly expressions.
A good bout of the giggles is great for enhancing positivity in your life, so remember to take time out and really laugh