Once upon a time, there was a collection of ideas, rules, or ways to live called the Yoga Sutras. The Yoga Sutras were collected in a land far away, a long time ago, and was made into a book. Although the book is super old, the ideas (once dissected) can easily be applied to issues we face in our current daily lives. One of the first ideas is “Yogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha” which loosely translates to “Yoga is the neutralization of the vortices of feeling” which still means nothing to most of us! So let’s break it down:
Chitta vritti is thought of as one of the voices in our mind; our “Monkey Mind”. It is also sometimes referred to as the lower mind, or the mind-stuff. In real terms, it is the voice inside your head that is sometimes 100% on your side for example:
“Yes! I handled babysitting three kids, kept them safe, and I got paid. I rule!!! #girlboss”
or it can be your worst enemy…
“Ugh…I can’t even look in the mirror. I am not eating for a month. #thunderthighs”
Both of these inner monologues are coming from the same monkey’s mouth, so why not try to teach that monkey to be a little better behaved? It seems that a lot of us, including myself, spend an obscene amount of time leashed to social media, scrolling mindlessly through friends’ or public figures’ feed of posts, shares, pictures, and stories. However, while we think we are just observing as innocent bystanders, we are actually ingesting, digesting, and sometimes regurgitating (sorry for all the body function references!) a whole lot of crap we do not need (sorry again).
In viewing beautiful Insta-pictures that are meant to inspire, we can easily begin to compare. Our local lives are contrasted against images of exotic locations that can leave us feeling disappointed or “less than”. The perfectly lit, filter-added, and photo-shopped images of bodies can draw insecurities from the healthiest of physiques. These pictures are not fleeting and disappear from existence when we scroll past mindlessly. Even if we are not aware, we internalize those posts and pictures and they become part of us. In some cases these images can motivate, inspire, and challenge us to grow. Sadly, more often than not, the little voice in our head starts to critique, challenge, or totally break down any confidence we do have when we compare ourselves to social media “perfection”. We may begin to analyze, over-analyze, and then double-analyze every aspect of our life, each line of a text message, or every move someone makes. This monkey is demanding and needy! It is time to start to training it.
As soon as a negative thought pops up and your chitta, or inner monologue is running out of control and being mean and nasty, I want you to stop, put the device down, and picture a big yellow banana. Breathe and close your eyes, focusing on the banana’s details. Is it bruised? Does it have a Chiquita sticker on it? Can you smell it’s sweet fragrance? Focus on the image of the banana and your breath until the voices have quieted down. Take short, strong inhales thinking the words “monkey eats” and slow, steady exhales, slowly drawing out the word “bananas”. Visualizing the banana and attaching words to your breath will help you release the negative self-talk and thoughts you may have. Stay here breathing and turning negative thoughts around. Yogas chitta vritti nirodha means do not let your monkey mind spiral out of control because it will make you go bananas. Sure, you may feel silly picturing a floating banana and a crazy monkey in your mind, but don’t you feel better?
Read more from Sacha on her blog, My Yoga Life.