The Mental Diet ... clear your mind

Have you heard of the Mental Diet?

It’s this concept first mooted by Emmet Fox, an author who published a book in 1935 called the “The Seven Day Mental Diet”. His idea was incredibly simple. Go on a mental diet for 7 consecutive days where you do not dwell on a single negative thought.

Curious, I looked up the mental diet on the web. I hit upon this blog of a person who decided to go on a 12 month mental diet! The blog chronicled his experience in this period of time. He’s at Day 96 now.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think the guy should start practising yoga. It complements his “diet” perfectly. Yoga is a practice that quiets the mind. In the one or two hours when I practice, I always feel an absolute sense of peace… (especially at the end of the practice when we are doing our “corpse pose”… =P).

How does yoga do this?

According to this article, the key is in the breathing. Apparently, there are two nervous systems in the human body: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic, commonly known as the "fight or flight" system, causes “the blood pressure to rise, the breath rate to quicken, and stress hormones to flood into the body”. Yoga, on the other hand, requires us to take long, deep breathes. This encourages the actions of our parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers our blood pressure.

In short, the quality of the breath affects the quality of our mind. The slower our breath, the quieter our mind will be.

In fact, yoga emphasizes the art of breathing so much that there is a special term for this practice, called the pranayama. This is a Sanskrit word meaning “lengthening of the breathe”.

The simple practice of slow breathing allows the yoga practitioner to make the mind still, and eliminate any negative thoughts that constantly dogs our daily life.

That said, I think the idea of a “Seven day mental diet” is great! Besides the one or two hours of yoga practice, perhaps we can also take up this commitment to clear our minds of negative thoughts for seven consecutive days. I am sure it will clear your mind of any mental clutter, and make you a better person.

When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still." - Hatha Yoga Pradipika

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