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Yoga and Positive Imagery

Imagery is the language of the mind. The mind speaks in images and translates images into words so that we can communicate with one another. We then interpret them in ways we can understand or we are familiar with. We visualize all the time, future events, our interpretations of past events. We visualize and plan ahead thinking of what we would like to see in our lives, the shape of ourselves to come. Our home situation and current or future partners. Whether this image is positive or negative has a great psychological and physiological effect on us.

How many of us do visualization? How many of us worry? How many of us realize that we are doing imagery all the time? Worry is an example of negative visualization. During these times we imagine something could happen, thinking of all consequences and possible outcomes. What we should have done better, responded to better, things we should have said if only we were only a little more aware at the time. What if this happens, what happens if I don't get what I want or think I need?

Looking back, has an event EVER turned out exactly as we imagined? And if things did go wrong, were they as bad as we thought they would be? Was the fear of the outcome actually worse than the outcome itself even if it wasn't a favorable one? Ironically though at the time we are imagining a worst case scenario, our body is reacting as if the Event is actually taking place . Just thinking makes it so . (Increase of blood pressure, higher heart rate, secretion of adrenaline, lower immune functions )

Negative imagery leads to a stagnation in our lives and adds to the development of disease. Afraid to take the next step, or digging in to our comfort zone we protect our current situation not out of contentment, but out of fear.

We practice positive imagery as a means to allow the body/mind to use its own resources to maintain its balance and repair itself, lower the heart rate, calm the brain waves and bring a clarity of mind and a feeling of well being. Those that practice meditation can take the healing power of yoga to different levels. Meditation develops concentration and the capacity to 'witness' all that passes through the mind rather than feeling so 'caught up' in it. This apparent sense of 'space created' helps us to look at what's going on with more detachment. What is meant by detachment isn't ignoring, or trying to get rid of, but a from a recognition from a deeper inner quietness - the waves of the mind appear innocent and fluid rather than things that we contract into. If you see health from a perspective of maintaining movement in the body (movement in the subtle sense, the tissues, joints, all the vertebrae, then you start to see that contraction over sustained periods of time starves these areas/organs of energy creating imbalance) When the mind learns how to rest, that naturally translates into the breath which massages gently the body naturally with each in and each out breath.

The power of imagery on others

In a story from the 'Healing Path Of Yoga' Nischala relates a personal story about how an aunt kept scolding a young girl who at the time was all arms and legs, for being so clumsy. After a time however, grace replaced the clumsiness in the girl, until one day when she re-visited her aunt. To her surprise her clumsiness returned. Her aunt's mind had held the image of the clumsy girl. Sometimes it's as difficult to allow others to change, as it is to change ourselves.

With this in mind imagine holding a positive view of everyone. In every encounter seeing them with fresh eyes rather than the memory of what we were holding before. Imagine seeing past peoples limitations, even the ones that they are holding onto themselves. Through creating this positive environment it supports a potential for change in us and the other people or at least we don't become the one to hold back others growth.

This could be seen as Karma Yoga or service, where our intention is to benefit without demanding an outcome to our efforts.

We can express our wish to hold others positively through a beautiful practice called Flower Watering in the book "The Path Of Emancipation" by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a practice of selective watering. "We water the flowers, not the garbage, so that the flowers will bloom in the other person.

Flower watering should be authentic and based on the truth. When you see a positive seed in another person you water it, you express it." "I see a wonderful quality in you." If we live with someone for a while we know the person's strengths, weaknesses and positive seeds. We can take responsibility for the people we love and touch the positive not the negative in each other.

Rowan
Integral Yoga Dorset

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