You can change your thinking with this simple tool. You can make your insights stick. You can make your new ways of thinking change the way you react to those tired situations.
The antivirus for your mind is very powerful, but you can add to the power by making a slotra from your insight, and repeating it. This can put your new way of thinking where you need it. The next time a similar situation happens — a situation that used to make you think negatively and commit thought-mistakes — you will want to have your new way of thinking replace the old mental habit. Slotras are especially good at answering this need.
You can think of this as training. A good analogy Tom Miller (author of Self-Discipline and Emotional Control) uses in his corporate-training seminars is that your mind is like a horse. If you’ve ever ridden one of those rented horses that follow a certain path every day, you can get a sense of how your mind works and what it takes to change the way you think.
On a rented horse, it doesn’t really matter if you pay attention to where you’re going. The horse knows where to go. You can just relax and enjoy the scenery. The horse has done it a thousand times before. In the same way, when your spouse gets that certain look on her face, you have the same thought you’ve had a thousand times before. You don’t have to figure out how to interpret her look. You don’t have to figure out what to feel. Just like the horse, your mind will go where it has gone a thousand times before.
But let’s say you want to go a different way on the horse. What would you do? At a fork in the road the horse usually goes right. It has always gone right, but you’ve decided going left at the fork is the best way now. You’ve had an insight and now you know going left is the best way. But every time you come to that fork, if you aren’t paying attention, what happens? The horse will go right.
It is not enough to “know” it is better to go left. You actually have to think of it when you are at the fork. Remembering an hour later doesn't help.
When you’ve thought the same way many times, your mind is like that horse. It knows where to go and you don’t even have to pay attention to it. But if you want to go a different way, you have to do it deliberately. You have to remember to think the new way when the right time comes. The insight isn’t enough. “Knowing” the better way isn’t enough. If you’re not paying attention, or if your brain doesn’t really have any other option than the old way, that’s the way it will go.
If you have always gotten mad and yelled when your child spills something, that’s what you’ll do next time unless you remember your new insight the moment your child spills something.
It may work perfectly well to take a deep breath when you’re anxious but the method doesn’t do you any good unless you remember to use it when you’re anxious! Five minutes later may be too late.
That’s where slotras come in. A slotra takes your new conclusions and places a sign at the fork in the road, so you can remember to steer your horse down the new path when you come to it.
The whole idea of a slotra is to put the new thought where you need it.
Ideally, the circumstance will trigger the new thought. The situation will act as a reminder to think the new thought.
How? By practicing saying your slotra over and over while thinking of situations where you want the slotra to come to mind.
This is a powerful and simple mental tool that can make a huge difference in your life.
Read the next chapter: Practice Clear and Simple Slotras
This article was excerpted from the book, Slotralogy: How to Change Your Habits of Thought.