Imagination is one of the five functions of the mind according to the Yoga Sutras. It is something that is not real, but made to feel real through the workings of the mind. Through this powerful function of the mind, we can therefore find ourselves living in either heaven or hell on earth.
The good news is, we can learn to control this function of our minds in order to change our lives for the better.
Through a dedicated yoga practice, we seek to go beyond the mind and its functions, but mind is a tricky thing, so until we can go beyond it we need to learn how to use it well. By utilizing the power of good imagination we can use the mind to go beyond the mind.
Bad imagination tends to come up by itself with no effort on our part. So changing our imagination to good imagination will take some effort from us at first. Here are three tools to add to your daily practice to grow your 'good-imagination-muscles':
Use the Power of Self-Suggestion
"Every day in every way, I am getting better and better."
This mantra comes from a French psychologist Émile Coué (1857 – 1926) who introduced the West to The Coué Method - a popular method of self-improvement based on autosuggestion, but truthfully you could use any positive affirmation that suits the needs of your current state of mind.
Keep it short and simple - something easy to remember; "I can do it" works wonders too. Repeat it every day 20 times before you go to bed, and 20 times when you wake up in the morning. Drop the mantra only once it is no longer needed - there is no defined timeline.
When we practice mantra or self-suggestion, it works on the deeper levels of the unconscious mind - the stuff we ordinarily don't have direct access to in our day to day waking lives. Work done here will permeates through our very being and eventually reflects in our conscious thoughts and actions of our daily lives!
Make space between 'you' and your thoughts
Ask yourself these key questions;
Right now, am I in good or bad imagination?
What is the thought I carry with me the most?
Are these thoughts I carry really true?
How does it make me feel when I believe these thoughts?
Am I controlling my imagination or is my imagination controlling me?
Practice Yoga regularly
When we practice yoga we gain the ability to become more aware of the thoughts running though our mind during the day. Not only this, but we become more and more capable of putting space between 'ourselves' and our thoughts.
A regular yoga practice can also offer us glimpses at the reality that "I am not my thoughts." The more we can make this separation the more we'll be able to see our own physical and behavioral reactions to our thoughts, as well as the implication these thinking patterns have on our life.
Through this understanding, we can change the thoughts that actively bring us down or limit our potential, and we can replace them with imaginings that move us to live a brighter, fuller, more expansive life.
Michellé D'Almeida is a yoga teacher and student of Ayurveda Yoga Academy with 5 years of teaching experience. She is also founder of Ayurveda Yoga Africa and co-founder of Ayurveda Yoga Africa's Online branch: Yoga Together Online.
Join her online on Tuesdays at 10am (South African Standard Time | GMT+2) and Wednesdays Fridays and Sundays at 6pm.