I was scrolling through my Facebook feed one afternoon when I stumbled on an article by Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield about negative talk. Jack said, “If you have regular thoughts of self-judgment, criticism, shame, or unworthiness, create a true antidote, a phrase or two or three, that transforms the falsehood of these unhealthy thoughts.” This idea really resonated with me and I began to think about what my “antidote” phrase might be.
I started to reflect on negative talk and the many ways small and large that it often shapes our lives. “I’m not good enough!” “Why did I say that?” “Why am I always rushing and running late?” “Everyone is so far ahead of me; I don’t even have the energy to try!” All day long, we often have this dialog of not being enough. Negative self-talk is one of the many ways we are unkind to ourselves.
I Am the Light and the Light is Me
In a wonderful song written and sung by Marsha Wenig creator of the YogaKids program, “Namaste”, Marsha sings the main verse of the song over and over and it is, “I am the light, and the light is me”. This has become my antidote to negative talk. This phrase perfectly describes the truth about me, and you! At our core; we are pure light, pure love, and pure consciousness. If I know this to be the truth, than not being good enough, smart enough, fast enough or kind enough just isn’t possible because I am the light, and the light is perfect just as it is.
Many of us think of yoga as simply a physical practice, but yoga recognizes eight separate limbs. Yoga’s 5 moral restraints or the Yamas are the first limb. There are five main Yamas that we practice to help us reduce suffering, and achieve peace in our lives and they are; kindness, truthfulness, nonstealing, moderation and generosity. The very first of these Yamas is Ahimsa or kindness and it is often referred to as the most important Yama. Ahimsa really addresses negative self-talk as being unkind to ourselves. Not only is negative self-talk unkind, it just simply is untrue. When you truly understand Marsha’s words, you understand your own truth, and the magnitude of just how special you are.
The Namaste song goes on to sing about our connection to nature, each other, asks us to bow with respect to each other and has a beautiful tune that is hard to get out of your head once you hear it. Often I get very emotional listening to the song because it reminds me of my own innate goodness. Hearing Marsha sing about our connection to others and the universe helps us dispel another self-sabotaging habit, and that is criticizing others. Marsha sings, “I am you and you are me, I am part of all I see” If I know this to be true, than criticizing you would be just as destructive as criticizing myself. This also is addressed by the second Yama, Satya which means truthfulness. To be truthful, you are the light, and therefore you are also perfect just as you are, and any criticism of you would be false. I use this one all the time while driving. If someone cuts my off in traffic, my initial reaction is to judge them harshly, then I remind myself that they are the light, and I can actually feel myself soften to the situation. Possibly this driver just got bad news about a loved one’s health, or got passed over for a much-deserved promotion. We don’t need to speculate as to why people are sometimes rude, it really doesn’t matter, all that matters is that they are the light, and your own sweet light recognizes it.
I find myself saying this phrase often now, “oh, she is the light” or “that is ok, because he is the light.” It is a very peaceful healing practice that allows me to take nothing personally, and not pass any judgement on others behaviors weather they affect me directly or not. With this practice, I will no longer be a slave to the behavior of others. People will always disappoint, neglect, cheat, etc.… but we have a choice as to how we respond to other people’s behaviors, we can be a slave to it, or accept it and constantly be reminded of the magic of life by seeing their light.
I invite you to notice your own negative self-talk and judgement of others and adopt a new dialog in your head about your own innate goodness, and the goodness of others. As Gandhi said,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”