I have noticed that it is a lot easier to relate from anger and criticism than being a hero and stopping the bad mouthing. Point being I called a doctor on a Sunday, I had an emergency, she did not consider it an emergency and it made me really angry. No, I was not dying, but I was not fine either. The specifics are irrelevant, the point is that I noticed how quickly I went into judging and thinking awful things about this doctor.
Let me tell you, it took A LOT to stop the negative thinking and pray that she may be well instead. How often do we do this? and why? I realize now we do it cause it is "easier", people "relate better", it makes for "better elevator conversation".
But from the yogic point of view, and for general health, you and me should really stop it, here is why:
1-Santosha is the yogic principle of contentment. It does not mean we do not act where the situation calls for it, but it means we commit to a positive attitude, to learn the lesson that comes our way, whatever form it might take.
2-When we talk positive even in the face of hardship we allow our internal hero to manifest: Coming out with a phrase like: "I am happy", say, in a social situation, takes a lot more courage than we would think. It almost takes a hero, if you don't believe me try it. and if you try it, keep doing it, it might be good for it to spread. Taking a stand of being positive produces alchemy, it is magic.
3-Ahimsha is the yogic principle of non-harming. Complaining is usually directed at someone or other, or a group of "others". This goes against the concept of non-harming, even if from the mental state. Most advanced practitioners in yoga say that this (one of the mandates of the first two branches of yoga) is much harder than the poses, and I believe them.
4-It isn't cool. Complaining can cause wrinkles and indigestion. When I got angry at the doctor I frowned. I can only imagine how repeating this would not help the complexion. Coolness may not sound much like a yogi thing, but it is, yoga is all about equanimity, which I am coming to the conclusion is pretty much like "coolness".
5-Nobody likes to hear someone complaint. Have you been on the receiving end? have you felt that either you join in or you are uncomfortable? Next time you feel compelled, stop yourself instead and notice what happens inside, it is far more growth promoting, might lead to better meditation experiences, and who knows? even a happier life.
6-Complaining usually acts as a self fulfilling prophecy. "Focus on what you want" say the sages, so when we are complaining we are actually sending a lot of energy into the things we do not want, oops!. Who was it that said? "what you focus on expands".
7- We waste precious energy. Compare complaining to a leak, bursts of energy being lost in pointless, useless painful words. Although obviously we might feel anger, it is better to "stay with the feeling", rather than put it out into the world of words, it is always advisable to deal with the internal sensations (which is the beginning of meditation), rather than provoke the snow ball effect of coming down into low negative energy territory. The climb back up is very expensive. Again this does not mean we become vegetables, we do act, but from a position of strength.
8-Kindness is my religion. the Dali Lama said that, and I suspect that kindness goes beyond what we do and into what we think too. Hard? Maybe, but doable.
Once at a seminar I was taught this technique by which we would wear rubber bands, and every time we caught ourselves complaining we would pull the rubber band to at least 2 inches and let it go, so that it would slap our wrist, and even hurt. It is a great exercise!
How do you deal with complaining bursts?