The Angst of Positive Thinking

Yay! positivity!

photo credit: alex_lee2001

Optimism is so much easier than pessimism–it’s more fun, more effective, more validating, more energizing, and closer to Awareness. When we’re jazzed up, people love us and want to be around us. We do more, and we do more with more energy and more enthusiasm and more flow.

We want to be positive but many of us live in a very negative internal world, and often we don’t even know it, until it brims over. Negativity demands attention—it builds up, like tornado and sucks us in. It is difficult to be present when we are full of negative thoughts and emotions. In negativity, we look for people to validate our negativity. Bad gets worse. The world in the meantime has no patience for this; it scolds us to be positive, upbeat, and enthusiastic—essentially telling us, look there are others with much worse problems so snap out of it.

To battle this uneasiness often we turn to positive thinking and all its cousins, like hope and affirmations and the law of attraction. We listen and talk about about how to be positive and optimistic and how to visualize the future we want, and how to manifest a proper reality for ourselves, and how we must have hope, and keep attention only on the positive, and how we must pray.

The essential truth is that positive thinking does not neutralize negativity.

Most of human pain is unnecessary. Pain comes to us in one of two ways. It is created in the past and lives on in the patterns of the mind and body. Or, it is created now as some sort of resistance or judgment of what is. Often, it is both. A thought of resistance to what is happening now energizes embodied patterns of the past, and the ego and pain-body work in concert to bring us compelling suffering. The more identified we are with the mind, the greater the pain.

In attempts to be rid of this uneasiness, we call upon ‘positive’ forces to go to battle with the negativity that is embodied in us. We call upon struggle and effort. We energize desires and we reach for control, security, approval and connectedness. We fervently search for some sort of meaning or purpose. We adapt beliefs in salvation in the future:  we believe in an external God or the future promise of heaven or the power of prayer. We hope. We call upon spirituality or self-improvement or positive thinking or the law of attraction.

If there is resistance rising right now, don’t worry, I am not taking a stand against anyone’s cherished beliefs. There is no longer any need in me to be right or take a fixed position for or against a belief system. I really don’t know the truth about God or positive thinking or the LOA or spirituality, not in the conventional sense.

What I feel about these movements is that if we really want to know the truth, objectively, we must clear our minds. When we are afraid or we really want something, it is difficult to develop the gentle honesty we need to know truth. Truth is far, far simpler than any of these complicated and exhausting movements.

In my experience, it’s been much more effective to simply allow and accept and face up to the negative, and release it. I start with the simple recognition that whatever I perceive as negative is first just a mental judgment, and second, inside of me, never outside. Negativity always either rises from patterns embodied from the past, or it is some sort of resistance or judgment of the present. Anxiety, worry, fear, longing, depression—it doesn’t matter, I allow and accept completely, even lovingly, and then I ask myself if I can let go, and if I can let it go now, and then I let it go, and soon it’s not difficult to let go, and when enough negativity is let go, it’s not hard to see that it is my choice to create or not create further negativity for myself.

The most I can do with positive thinking or the Law of Attraction and similar practices, is to pretend to feel good for a while. The covered-up negativity doesn’t go away; it festers. Positivity is not something I can pretend to cultivate, but then again I don’t have to. When the negative is faced up to and released, what remains is positivity in loving abundance.

What if, instead creating these battles in the head, we just take a step back? What if we gently observe, and notice the mechanics of the mind, without analysis or judgment, and see how the mind continually creates unhappiness by resisting or judging what is? Noticing is when attention gently touches over thoughts without getting embroiled in them.

What if we accept the present moment as if this is exactly what we created and what we wanted, and see how non-resistance can transform life?

And what if, instead of going to war with unhappy emotions, we allow them, welcome them, even love them, and then release them?

And what if, we stop taking hard and fixed positions on beliefs? What if we say, I don’t know and I am completely comfortable with that? We simply “cease to cherish opinion.”

I am suggesting that the only reason we don’t face up to and release the hurtful past and fear and negativity in ourselves is because we are afraid that it may not be possible to do so. It’s not only possible, it’s really rather simple. (See How to release big and small emotions and see the books “Awareness and Release” and “Beyond’).

As the Bard said, “…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” We don’t need to rouse up the forces of positive thinking and the search for meaning and all the complicated theories of existence and the bestest secret of getting what I want to go to battle with the negative. We can simply let negativity go.

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A while ago I wrote Banish the Angst of the Law of Attraction, and I used a quotation from Gina Lake, and Gina just sent me an email about her book on the subject, as follows:

Thank you for posting my article on positive thinking and the problem with the Law of Attraction. I’m glad you’re offering such a well-written and thoughtful forum on this subject. My book “Anatomy of Desire: How to Be Happy Even When You Don’t Get What You Want” is on the subject of desire, and it presents a counterpoint to the Law of Attraction. It is self-published and available on Amazon.com and will be published by Hampton Roads in 2011. You have a lovely website and express your ideas very well. Blessings…Gina Lake (www.radicalhappiness.com)

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Back to positive thinking, what do you think? Your thoughts please, positive or negative!

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35 thoughts on “The Angst of Positive Thinking

  1. Chris Edgar

    Hi Kaushik — I’ve definitely noticed some of what you’ve said in my own explorations — I’ve seen that, if I induce positive thoughts in my mind, they ultimately dissolve into negativity. That’s the nature of the mind, in my experience — to make everything into a problem and a threat to my survival. The way out of that cycle, I’ve seen, is to withdraw my attention from the mind when it isn’t needed.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Chris,
      Yes, very well said, that’s exactly it, it’s the duality in the mind. The mind say I feel bad so I’ll run after the opposite. When we can, as you say, withdraw attention from the thought, we can see the whole thing from a broader perspective.

      Thanks so much for the insight.

      k

  2. Nadia - Happy Lotus

    Hi Kaushik,

    Reading this post confirmed to me what I always felt, people have no idea what true positivity means. Sounds like I am about to disagree with you but I am not. Even though I would consider myself a positive and happy person, my main belief has been and will always be that in order to break free from the chains that limit us, we have to acknowledge and face the negative that exists within us.

    For reasons unknown to me, people think that being positive means denying the negative. We live in a society where people rush to take Prozac instead of going through depression. I have had bouts with depression and all those bouts were great teachers. My cases of depression were not severe but enough to make me miserable.

    People want to never feel sad or down. The mind is fluid and will have its moments but as long as we are aware of what the mind is feeling and are detached to it, then we are not slaves to it.

    For example, I have my moments where my ego is chattering away about something that it does not like. I do not judge it as bad or good. I let it talk and observe it to see what is going on and then let it go.

    We are not our minds and we are not our egos. We just simply are.
    .-= Nadia – Happy Lotus´s last blog ..Are You An Angry Talk Show Or A Romantic Comedy? =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Nadia,
      Yes, exactly, people have no idea what positivity means, and I was one of those people for a long time. Most of us are. It’s the mind’s dualism, we think positivity (joy, peace, love, compassion) is the opposite of negativity, and so we go to battle. We look to practices which wrestle with reality, but as you point out, the reality we experience, even if it is depression and anxiety, is exactly the thing that should be at this moment. We can detach from this and let it be.

      On another note, we discussed I think in comments the climactic war in Mahabharata. I have come to see this as symbolic of the inner struggle, where we call upon the positive forces to battle what we consider negative, one corner of the mind violently battling it’s own dualism. This entire battle is the very thing that gives the ego it’s shimmering reality. When the mind is still, when the battle field is empty, there is no ego.

      Thanks for your great wisdom, as always.

      k

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Dani, thank you so much, and thank you for sharing it. I know you’re all about positivity and you do a great service in promoting it.

      Peace,
      k

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Srinivas,

      I recognize that there are many supporters of LOA. I’m not speaking against it, though it has never resonated with me. What I’m suggesting is that, one, many of us flock to LOA and similar to run away from the bad-feeling emotions in us, when all we really have to do is to stay still, allow and let go of these. And two, it seems to me that if we really want to test out the LOA, it’s would seem best to do that in clear Awareness, rather than the cluttered mind.

      But it is my experience that when Awareness is clear, the LOA seems utterly irrelevant. As Arjuna Ardagh says, with a bit of awakening the LOA is like a billionaire begging in the streets.

      The fascinatingly beautiful thing about life is everyone’s journey is their own!

      Thanks, good to hear from you again. I hope you are well!

      k

  3. Wilma Ham

    Positive and negative, they are both judgments and one might sound or feel better than the other, but they are judgments all the same.
    The mind is like a computer, it can only deal with what it is programmed to do, AND it works on reverse logic.
    You feel bad, well than we make you feel good so you know that you are feeling bad, like Chris said about postive dissolving in negative.
    Looking at what is so takes time which we do not want to take so to speed things up we have wonderful tricks, pills and LOA kind of spiritual opium.
    Looking at what is so is about acceptance, but we do NOT want to accept what is so that is why we have insurance, education and make overs.
    We do not learn to learn, we gain knowledge to cover things up that are judged as unpleasant, unconvenient and unwanted.
    Looking with innocent perception, accepting and then deciding on a do-ing coming from the heart is too simple for the mind who loves intelligent complex conversations to impress other minds.
    Kaushik, we can simply stop judging and get on with daily life with what is in front of us, right here and now.
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last blog ..What happens when instead of an old fashioned partner I become a sponsor. =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Wilma,

      You’ve said it perfectly: “Looking with innocent perception…” It is with innocence, in the absence of resistance, the absence of belief and thought, that we can see clearly. And as you say, this is too simple for the mind.

      The “LOA is a spiritual opium,” that’s so true. It’s an easy addiction. As Adyashanti said it will not bring us happiness.

      Thanks for your wisdom!

      peace and love,
      k

  4. Lisa

    I think what we’re talking about here is our lives in comparison. True, everything exists for us only in its comparison to something else, but we take comparison a step further and create judgement.
    As soon as we begin with judgement, we begin with the concept of good and bad, positive and negative. Of course, these tags are subjective and have no relevance in the absolute.
    We somehow get lost in our world of judgement and there is where negative and positive thinking have their roots.
    The law of attraction is, for many, a hope for getting ‘more’, for moving from ‘negative’ into ‘positive’.
    But I believe we two have had this discussion before. If we release judgement then there is no need for positive and negative, there is simply acknowledgement of what is.

    Naturally, this is all very idealistic and in reality we deal with a degree of judgement on a daily basis. I feel we fare best if we try to accept what is in our lives and allow it to flow through us. Replacing all ‘negative’ thoughts with ‘positive’ ones is not really possible, it covers up what is under the surface.
    Accepting and moving on with little judgment seems to be the best bet. We all have things we prefer to other things, but that doesn’t make one thing ‘bad’ and the other thing ‘good’.

    I hope that wasn’t too disjointed, but I fear it was..
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..The Race =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Lisa,

      It wasn’t disjointed at all; you make a great point. What we’re discussing here is a little delicate because many people can easily interpret the discussion itself as negative or that it takes a hard stand against what they cherish and believe. So I understand your caution, but you’ve expressed yourself very well.

      Our minds are dualistic and we tend to think in opposites. The future will trump the past, positive will trump the negative, and hope trumps misery. It’s so much easier to broaden the perspective and see that the whole movement is not at all necessary.

      And you’re right, the talking about this is a little idealistic. In practice, it can take a little practice to release ourselves from the hard positions we take. There is nothing wrong with preferences and aversions–we know this is our embodied conditioning and it’s fine as a long as we don’t look for completion in these.

      Thanks for your wisdom and expressing it so well!

      love and peace,
      k

  5. Lisa

    Well, we think in opposites because this is the way we position ourselves in the world and how we understand. It is impossible to understand an absolute.
    Thinking in opposites pretty much automatically leads to judgement. Opposites as such are not judgements, it is only when value is added that the thing becomes complicated.
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..The Race =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Lisa, yes, my experience is that in awareness, we are completely free to engage the mind, or not. We are free to apply value, as you say, but mostly there never is any reason to. Thanks for your insight.

      k

  6. Brenda

    “The more identified we are with the mind, the greater the pain.”

    This notion of detaching oneself from the mind is somewhat new for me. I always saw myself as a construction of all the stories from my past. Now I’m learning to let those stories run like a movie that I can watch over and over or not. They never really go away anyway, especially the traumatic ones, but I can see a better, less personal, less involved way of dealing with those old movie reels that keep looping in my head. Your choice of the word “noticing” has helped me the most; it’s very similar to “viewing.” So viewing what the mind movie plays is healthier than identifying with the central character and suffering along. Every part of life feels lighter and easier when I view it as a movie, knowing that my core is much kinder than my mind.

    Kaushik, what distinction do you make between the terms “mind” and “brain”?
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Back to Work =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Brenda,

      Yes, that’s it, when we can observe our stories and thought, without judgment or analysis, we develop awareness. A deeper intelligence begins to take over. Concurrently, we can practice release, and that can help release the stored emotions from the traumatic stories.

      Yes, that’s it, noticing is viewing, without participating.

      I use the words awareness and consciousness interchangeably. I use “mind” to mean thought, emotions, beliefs and conditioning. It’s what we are very attached to. The brain is a part of the body and there is evidence that the mind is a function of the brain, but that’s not really important to what I talk about. I deal mostly with subjective consciousness and thoughts and emotions.

      I hope you are well!

      k

  7. Lisa (mommymystic)

    Kaushik, Wonderful, I think you expressed this perfectly. Here in Los Angeles, I often feel like a bit of a curmudgeon when I freeze up at mentions of The Secret or LOA, as it is basically religion here to many. And I actually think it can have a lot of value, for goal-manifesting and health-issues especially, but exactly like you (and others above, including Gina) have said so well, as long as we are labeling things as ‘negative’ and the enemy, how can we ever release them? By trying to ‘replace’ them with positive thoughts we just create a battle and solidify the dichotomy in our awareness around whatever the resistance is…
    But again, personally I do think LOA methods have value at times, particularly for goal-manifesting and some health issues (I know there have many a lot of recent studies on how visualizing healing can actually aid it, for example.) I consider these ‘mind techniques’ in that sense, like visualization or chakra work or anything else along those lines…but in the sense they are something we ‘do’ with our mind, they can’t take us beneath it, to our essence, presence, or awakening…
    .-= Lisa (mommymystic)´s last blog ..Tibetan Knowledge on Birth, PND, Motherhood, and Childcare =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Lisa,

      Yes, you’ve expressed it very well. I’m not taking a stand against the LOA or positive thinking or hope. As you point out, the LOA can work. Visualization can help with healing, and even without getting mystical about it, it’s reasonable that if we think about and visualize an intention, we’ll be open to the opportunities that will support it.

      But if we are serious about objectively testing out the truth of the LOA or affirmations or hope or positive thinking, the mind must be clear. In the cluttered mind, we cannot honestly test out the Law of Attraction, or anything else. For example, let’s say we want the perfect partner in our lives. How can we be sure this a true desire? Of course, we will think it is true, but is that because it’s true or is it because we desperately want it to be true? In my experience, when we really want something or when we are afraid, we cannot be honest with ourselves. And, in my experience, desires come from their opposites. For example, the desire for the perfect partner may come from the opposing beliefs: “I am not lovable” or “I will never find that special person.”

      We can see how very limiting and dualistic all of this is. There are forced beliefs and opposing beliefs and desperate desires and the future and hope and confusion.

      If we really want to see if the law of attraction works, the first thing to do is abide in clear awareness. Be aware, and release the gunk, and then from clear stillness, we can test it out for real.

      But when awareness is clear, the law of attraction is not all that interesting or relevant. Perhaps this is why the awakened talk about awakening, not the law of attraction. Arjuna Ardagh says the LOA is like a billionaire begging in the streets. Adyashanti says he uses it to get convenient parking spaces, it’s not really relevant for happiness or Truth.

      k

  8. Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord

    I think the original posts and comments were very insightful; I enjoyed reading everything here today. I liked what Srinivas said, as well as Wilma (and your responses to them, too). I wonder if we always carry equal amounts of positive and negative energy or tendencies within us, but are prone to one being more noticeable or highlighted during certain times? That was a fleeting thought that went through my head as I read this. Therefore it’s less that we’re trying to add positive thoughts to neutralize negative, and more that we’re trying to get the spotlight on the positive that’s already within us again.

    Then again, I really don’t know. I only know that when I have negative thoughts, I feel bad. When I feel bad, I am not as powerful as when I feel positive. I sink into myself and am not motivated to love myself or anyone else. The world loses a light (me) temporarily. Therefore, intuitively, I like to feel good. However I end up getting back there is fair game in my book.

    Mmm, love how you always make me think, Kaushik!
    .-= Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord´s last blog ..A Study in Sibling Reverie =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Megan,
      You bring up a wonderful point. Sometimes we may be strengthening the already-positive instead of running away from the negative. I see your point.

      As you say, we feel bad with negative thoughts, and powerful with the positive. But in my experience I haven’t been able to sustainably call up the positive on demand.

      What I have been able to sustainably do is to dis-identify with thought, without judgment to positive or negative. And I’ve found that the things we consider good, like love and joy and compassion, are not thoughts at all. They’re not emotions either; they’re the aspects of the state of consciousness which is no longer identifies with thought.

      Does that make sense?

      love and peace,
      Kaushik

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  10. Jodi at Joy Discovered

    Hi Kaushik,
    Interesting post. I agree that we need to be willing to see the negativity that is within us and acknowledge it. We need to observe it, question its roots if necessary and then let it go or make amends somehow. I get what you are saying about the positive stuff like affirmations, etc. being a bandaid but I wouldn’t disregard them all together. Affirmations and the like can remind people what joy or achievement feels like. They can be effective tools inspiring confidence that might not otherwise be there. If this then can lend doubt to one’s negative thoughts, perhaps that is the small shift one needs to stop believing one’s negative self-talk all together. That one small shift can lead to letting go of all negativity in the long run.

    That being said, I do think that to a certain extent, over-doing affirmations, etc. is basically another form of resistance to what “is” if what “is” is a whole lot of negativity (and in some cases, the ego gets high on the affirmations, so they become just another distraction away from enlightenment). In these cases, I think it is healthy to just back off, observe, feel the negative feelings, process them and let them go in time rather than trying to defeat them by the use of affirmations and the like.

    Have you ever been with a group of people who are talking really loud…and then the room of people around them gets really quiet? After a couple of minutes, the group realizes they are the only ones talking, and they’re being quite loud, and they instantly lower their voices? This is like negative self-talk. When we quiet the observing mind from judging our thoughts or narrating them, the self-talk gets really quiet and eventually disappears. It’s actually quite peaceful. This is where I’m at these days. It’s a very calm and loving phase. I can finally, finally say that I am shifting away from resistance and struggle. Being is becoming much, much easier, and so is full-time joy.

    I guess I’ve come full circle and agree with your assertion in this post—but for the record, I wouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to affirmations and the like. In the right context, I still think they are quite helpful.
    .-= Jodi at Joy Discovered´s last blog ..Love in All Directions =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Jodi,

      Your comment is exceptionally honest. You’ve laid bare the tug-of-war we feel in the head.

      Every human being’s inner purpose is to awaken to the Truth of who we are. As you point out, when we observe the mental chatter, it diminishes. Then we connect with innocence. To use your words, it’s calm and loving and full-time joy. I call this Awareness. At the same time, I suggest releasing, so we can be free from “resistance and struggle.” Awareness and Release both lead to natural flow.

      As we become more aware and as we release, we start loosening our attachment to beliefs. It’s hard to give up attachment to “positive” beliefs like affirmations, hope and the law of attraction and even God and heaven. But in awareness, we see the positive side of this is really one side of the same coin. It is time-bound and mind-bound. It’s impossible to be attached to the positive side without being attached to the limiting and negative side. That’s how the dualistic mind works. Affirmations need something to affirm against. Beliefs, no matter how positive, are limiting.

      And yet, as you point out, we can’t completely dismiss anything. Visualization can be healing. I use a chakra lighting technique which is highly energizing.

      So in the end, I expand awareness and I release. Everything else, I don’t accept and I don’t deny.

      Thanks for a wonderful comment.

      k

  11. alex - unleash reality

    Hey Kaushik!!

    really really amazing article. succinct raw undiluted truth. magical.

    “The essential truth is that positive thinking does not neutralize negativity.”
    – SO true. the cause of negativity, the part of you that wants to be negative – that needs to be dealt with. positive thinking can sometimes reverse it but doesn’t deal with the reason you’re being a needy insecure destructively negative pain in the aaaa in the first place.

    love the way you put the way out of all this. the word “release” always has an effect on me. prolly from my experience with sedona method. just pure amazingness.

    battles in the head. – love the way you put that.

    really really cool article mate. just wrote something along similar lines and took me like 4 days to properly put what i meant onto paper. would love your thoughts.

    keep well and in touch
    alex – unleash reality

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Thanks Alex, for such kind words.

      Yes, the Sedona Method is great–that’s what got me started on releasing, and the release technique I use now and suggest is much simpler. Awakening is doing away with all that is false in us. Releasing and awareness both lead to this quiet, innocent, imperturbable awareness–it is love, the love of life.

      I’ll check out your article. Thanks for visiting.

      k

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  13. Walter

    I liked how you’ve explained it here. We must learn to accept before we are able to release. One misconceptions about positivity is to deny negativity. We can never know what happiness is unless we experience what sorrow is. 🙂

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Walter,
      You’re right, acceptance is the beginning of letting go. We are afraid of sorrow but when we can let go, sorrow and grief are just part of the full spectrum of experience.

      Thanks,
      k

  14. Liara Covert

    Diverse stages of awareness exist. Among the choices, one can be negative, negative/positive, positive and also move into the abyss of neutrality-indifference and serenity. To realize separateness does not exist is to sense everything is negative, positive and nothing while in the process of dissolving into infinity. Words do not express what transpires.
    .-= Liara Covert´s last blog ..Feel nothing to expand =-.

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Liara,

      Yes, exactly, words cannot express. The thinking mind is afraid of the awareness which looks upon positive and negative with equanimous serenity. Thanks for the wise words.

      k

  15. adele

    Fabulous article! This is something I’ve run into in my work with clients, and it makes my job harder. As an energy medicine healer, my work does involve a lot of dialog with clients related to spirituality and how they see God. And so I often see people working so hard to be positive that their whole body is literally imploding energetically. It’s such a brutal war between the body and the mind, energetically. And the thing is, the body never lies…

    I’ve struggled for ways to discuss this issue without sounding like I’m critical of Law of Attraction, The Secret, Positive Mental Attitude, etc. Many of my clients are firm believers of LOA. To some, it is a determined mindset to be “positive” (whatever that means) all the time. Total denial of pain or negativity whatsoever.

    Naturally, I can see some benefit in positive vibration, certainly. There is something to be said for positive energy, loving thoughts, etc. But the whole thing has gotten convoluted. I see people using LOA as way to get things, as if God is a piggy bank that if you are just positive enough, voila! I’ve had clients desperate to have me make them “more positive” so they can go on the business of attracting a new mate while they are miserable with the current one. I’ve had clients who are fighting illness using LOA as a shameful tool against themselves, as in “why did I attract this cancer? I must have been negative…”

    It makes my job so much harder when the idea of being “positive” is used as a way to deny one’s own honest feelings of sadness or hurt. IMO, it keeps people up in their heads, and away from processing what their heart must process to move on…

    I can only hope that, over time, some maturity of these ideas may happen. It’s not that they are bad altogether. They just need more perspective. I’m all for positive vibrations. But not when it is like putting lipstick on a pig.

    I’ve collected a list of attitudes that I’ve noticed, when people use spiritual, metaphysical or religious arguments for why illness occurs. I think people do this to rationalize and create some sort of control or safety out of things that are not in our control. Understandable, but not helpful.. Peculiar Ideas on Illness/a>

    Thanks everyone, I really appreciated reading what everyone wrote on this thread. Makes me feel like I’m not crazy, lol!

    http://www.safehavenhealing.net/a>

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Adele,

      Thank you for expanding on this so well.

      I am reminded of one of Eckhart Tolle’s CD’s where he tells the audience let’s pretend the past is not real, let’s just pretend, because if I say the past is only patterns and beliefs in you, many of you will run away.

      Our beliefs are so very limiting, and yet it is difficult to give them up. We feel we need something to hold on to.

      There is Truth to the LOA and positive thinking and affirmations and visualization and manifestation techniques. But if we are serious about finding Truth, we must first clear our minds and we must heal and we must shed the past. If we really want to know what we want from life, without fooling ourselves, we must be still, be aware, and release. It is my experience however that when we do that even a little, the LOA and similar beliefs become so very limiting, and irrelevant.

      In the end, the journey that each one of us takes, even if it does seem to be meandering or limiting, is perfect.

      Thanks Adele.

  16. Andrew

    Hi Kaushik,

    I’ve recently gone through a depression, and while I don’t feel the intense sad moods anymore, I don’t feel like I’ve fully recovered. In fact I feel a little passionless and apathetic.

    The only times I actually feel better are when my thoughts take a turn for the positive: “Wow I did a great job on that assignment”, “this relationship is going really well”. When these positive thoughts are absent, I just feel flat.

    When I’m feeling flat, I’m not dwelling on negative thoughts, I’m just not getting enjoyment out of whatever I’m doing at the present moment. So, my question is this:

    Can positive thoughts be used a jump start out of depression? What if we separate from our thoughts and our mind, but we’re still depressed? Is there a place for brain chemicals in all of this?

    Thanks,

    Andrew

    1. Kaushik Post author

      Hi Andrew,
      You’ve asked some excellent questions.

      I can tell you my experience. I had two decades of episodic depression, and a few years of anxiety. I had tried medication, intense exercise, therapy, a lot of reading and figuring out.

      What helped me finally was awakening, and specifically releasing. Depression is the inward turning of rage. Anxiety is the inward turning of fear. These can be released.

      Can positive thoughts be used to jump start out of depression? If they help you, by all means, use them. My experience was that cultivating positive thoughts is not something I could really sustain. But when I release (it’s a continual process), the embodied patterns of negativity are released, and what’s left is positivity. I don’t have to try to be positive.

      I have experienced the apathy that you talk about as well. I started awakening about two and half years ago. My external life was completely shaken: I left a career, relationships changed or left, friends changed or left. Internally, I experienced very high energy, exuberance, compulsive thought, detachment, anxiety, apathy, insomnia and low energy. In my experience, apathy is a middle stage. It was inconvenient. I continued to develop awareness and to release. Really, what choice do we have?

      Certainly, brain chemistry is part of it. Andrew Solomon authored a fine book called “An Atlas of Depression.” His depression was severe and possibly related to brain chemicals or organic dysfunction. Depression is psychological as well as organic, and perhaps, the psychological aspects influence the disruption of chemical processes and vice versa. Diabetics who need insulin injections would still need insulin injections after awakening. In the same way, there certainly is a place for brain chemicals. I believe that my brain chemistry must have changed with awakening, so that I don’t need medication now. If I felt I needed medication, I would not hesitate.

      Depression, anxiety and addictions seem to go hand-in-hand. Awareness and release helped me the most, but it does take time, and in the meantime I continued medication. Exercise and Hatha Yoga helped–as you know in middle of depression it is difficult to move even a little. Yes, there was a time ofapathy, and for this I had no solution except to continue releasing. There were times of insomnia, and for this too I did not really have a solution. There were fallbacks to addictions and for this I used Rational Recovery.

      I hope this helps.

      k

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