Day 90: Mental Filter

Mental filter: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively, so that your vision of all of reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors a beaker of water.
Photo by  Jack B  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jack B on Unsplash

Day 36 was a reflection on Mind Traps, and I had the pleasure of watching “Mental Filter” play out on Thursday afternoon while reading through student reflections. Almost all of the reflections demonstrated introspection and appreciation of my students’ time in yoga. They wrote things like:

“I think my chronic pain has greatly reduced after practicing yoga and mindfulness! That's something I've been working on for a while and has slowly been getting better.”

“I've found that I can be more calm about situations, take time to think and then speak up about things. I've had a lot of troubles in the past talking to people and confronting them about unhealthy things they are doing to me/ others but I've been able to do that a lot more confidently lately.”

“I have progressed in settling my mind - I have also found more space in my mind for recognizing and letting go of difficult thoughts, and reflecting on the good (some days I find it is at its end and I feel awful, I write it off a horrid - but in reality, when I take a minute or two and run through my day objectively - I am able to see the good and I make a point to remember the good).”

But then there was this one:

“No, I didn't have any [goals] to begin with. And no, I did not notice any other benefits. I still have the same opinions and I don't feel as if anything changed.”

Guess which reflection stuck in my head. I knew the student who had written it, who had been very vocal about not liking yoga for much of the semester, and I struggled with not being able to win her over. To charm her into at least finding ways of making it meaningful for herself.

Over the course of the weekend, I watched my mind elevate this concern to represent my efficacy of a yoga teacher, to question if I was even effective, to wonder if I should even be teaching yoga to high school students.

Woah Nelly.

I made myself go back and reread all of the reflections. I soaked in the beauty of the discoveries students had made. I took note of how that one student, while part of the picture, was not the whole picture.

So the next time you darken your waters with this mental filter, I invite you to take a wider lens and reconsider: What else is true? How can I clear the waters so that a single event does not discolor an entire experience?