In yoga philosophy, there is a saying: Hell is where the mind is.

We get weighed down with the woulda, shoulda, coulda – I would have done things differently, I should have done this, and I could have done that.

We overthink, creating scenarios that do not exist.

These scenarios could not be further from reality on many occasions – our minds are like monkeys, dragging us to many different directions. We end up having painful conversations with our dead past and imagined future.

Many years ago, a yoga student asked me how to get over the break-up of her relationship the yogic way. She could not stop thinking about her boyfriend, and each time she thinks about him, the pain cuts her like a knife in her heart. Now, as you know, if you tell your brain to stop doing something, it will do it all the more.  It is not healthy to suppress your thoughts anyway, because it is part of the natural healing process.

But if you just allow yourself to wallow in the woulda, shoulda, coulda, you would waste so many precious hours in the day putting yourself through needless pain.

So I advised this person: schedule 30 minutes a day to think about your ex-boyfriend. Say 9pm every night. Have an appointment with him every night in your mind space at 9pm. Do not break the date. AND if you think about him anytime in the day, stop that thought at once. Park it for 9pm that night. And from 9pm to 9.30pm, sit quietly in meditation pose in your bedroom and think about him. Think about the woulda, shoulda, coulda. Think about how gorgeous, awful, sickening, sweet, anything, he is. Even if you run out of thoughts, keep sitting there until 9.30pm.

A few weeks later, my yoga student said to me with a beaming smile, “Haha, I ran out of things to think about him. He’s all gone from my mind now. I’m moving on.”

This is really, really powerful. I recently put myself through this exercise. At a meditation centre, we were encouraged to create drawings and words about what’s in our mind with chalk on a blackboard. I wrote down my loss, that which tormented me night and day and making me more ill than I already was. Yes, my mind was making me more ill than the actual illness.

With this technique, I allowed myself to wallow in the woulda, shoulda, coulda only during my meditation session.  The rest of the time, I used my mind to get well. I made a pact with myself: “you can wallow and indulge for one hour, if you focus the other 23 hours on other things”.

Amazingly, after three weeks (or less!), that which had caused me pain is no more. And the chalk drawing had almost disappeared 🙂

See, nothing in life, including pain, is permanent. Except the light within us, which goes on.


(posted by Jacqueline)