I am familiar with the use of positive language and constructive framing after many years of leading yoga workshops, retreats and teacher trainings. These offering's have always, and continue to be, focussed on providing tools to help access the unlimited potential that exists within us. Manifesting means getting clear on a direction and focus that you want using attention, intention, and hard work to create it.
In my studies at Simon Fraser University this past spring, I was reintroduced to the concept of constructive framing. In an academic sense, framing relates to how information is presented through a certain lens or perspective, which in turn, affects how we as receivers of that information interpret it.
Constructive framing means presenting information in a way that is offering a solution to a problem, or saying what you want to happen rather than what you don't want to happen. What a refreshing reminder to find this theme that I work with in the Yoga world in academia as well!
I had the opportunity to explore this concept in greater depth in one of my classes called Leadership in Sustainable Community Development. Throughout this class, students were asked to partake in a 21 day personal change project. This project included choosing something to take on as a practice for the three weeks. I was very excited about this, and as someone who likes to take on things 110%, I was thinking about things like zero waste or no single use anything for the 21 days. Other classmates had ideas like 21 days of meditating.
When I presented my idea to my teacher, he was supportive, but also reminded me that so much thinking around sustainability surrounds what we have to give up, rather than what we have to gain. This really stuck with me, and inspired me to approach my 21 day challenge a bit differently. I decided to take on a 21 day challenge of constructive framing, where I would only use constructive language in my life. This meant no complaining or dwelling in problems, and always using solution based, open language. I consider myself to be fairly positive, but was interested to see how this played out in my everyday.
As it turns out, it was WAY harder than I thought to use only constructive language. Especially in social situations, where I felt like if someone was complaining, I had to mirror it. My first week of the challenge was very observatory, seeing how much I actually didn't use constructive language and got stuck dwelling in the problem space.
Feeling a bit defeated after the first week, the second week I actually ended up just not talking as much, and listening more. Not talking as much gave me space to think about what I actually wanted to say or create, rather than acting on impulse. I also found that in order to be a more active participant in what I was saying, it was so necessary to stay regular with my yoga and meditation practices, which at that point in the business of the semester, were not quite as regular. It was as simple as five minutes meditation when I woke up and 20 minutes of conscious movement and breath sometime in the day so that I felt centered and present.
By week three, I was able to find my voice a little bit more, exploring the art of constructive framing and speaking based on what I wanted to happen or create. I realized that, in social situations, people didn't even notice when I didn't engage in complaining and just listened, and that the whole energy of the conversation was able to shift towards a more constructive, positive direction when I used constructive framing.
The results were incredible, and still are integrating into my being. Yoga and the practice of Satya (truthfulness) teach us that our thoughts become words and our words become reality - so finding the truth within what you want to create is of the utmost importance.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, sutra 2.33 Vitarka-badane Pratipaksa-bhavanam states that unwholesome thoughts can be neutralized by cultivating wholesome ones, and that we have the power to choose our thoughts. Our thoughts (and words) have the power to manifest as our reality.
After experiencing first hand again and again the power of constructive framing, I invite you to to explore the power of your own words and thoughts. The practice of constructive framing is a potent one, and a worthwhile endeavour and companion in working to create the life of your dreams.