Abria Joseph: Removing Negative Self Talk at TEDxYouth@NIST (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Pranaforce Yoga founder, Abria Joseph’s TEDx Talk presentation: Removing Negative Self Talk at TEDxYouth@NIST conference.

Listen to the MP3 Audio: Removing Negative Self Talk by Abria Joseph at TEDxYouth@NIST



How many of you in this exact moment are thinking about your bills you have to pay, are thinking about the homework assignment you have to turn in, are thinking about what you look like and what you’re wearing? How’s my hair, by the way? OK.

No, but seriously, in this exact moment you weren’t thinking about the words that are in your head or the stories or the negative thoughts of fear that are happening, that haven’t yet happened. What had happened when you heard this instrument? What did you feel, what senses were engaged?

This particular instrument was created in the year 2000 in Switzerland, originally imported from the outer space — I don’t know how they got here. But it’s here, and the original name for it is called the hung. It’s a particular company from Switzerland and this one is not the original hung, it’s another builder — there’s builders all around the world. And the reason it’s called hung is because hung means hand — and hand — being that it’s made by hand, that it’s tuned by hand, and it’s played by hand.

So what I wanted to share with you is that this instrument has a voice, just like we all have a voice. And in that relationship between playing an instrument, we also have an instrument within us, and that’s our mind and our ability to acknowledge and notice what we’re thinking and how we react to the thoughts that are happening and streaming through us like Wi-Fi. It’s constant.

So I’m sitting here and thinking about my first time that I first experienced the handpan and it was while I was living in the Netherlands. And I was walking down the street and I heard this sound and it just pulled me literally like a rope, being towed all the way up from an anchor in the sea. I was drawn to this sound, this vibration. I sat there and in awe just watched — watched this person playing. And I thought about how much I wanted to experience that for myself. What was drawing me into this sound? Did you experience that at all? Did you feel connected to it?

So the idea was, that happened for me too. And as I had searched and seek over the last few months, I have found one, for sale. They’re not an easy instrument to acquire and they’re expensive as well. So for me the first time I had experienced one, I figured I have to play this immediately in a yoga class. I don’t have time to practice. I don’t have time to practice, because if I sit there and try to practice, it could be weeks, months, years later before I actually play it in class. So I bought it — within the first week as soon as I was able to teach another class, I took it into class.

And you wouldn’t believe the stories that were going on in my head — people are going to think I suck; everyone’s going to know and the thing is, those were just stories, right, because they haven’t happened yet. But why do we seem to believe the stories that haven’t happened yet, because they’re not true; is that right?

What if your favorite song came on, you are with the group of people, some are friends, some are different people just out and about maybe in public, your favorite song, mind you; don’t be shy — your favorite song. The song comes on and you normally scream this song at the top of your lungs at home. But yet you’re just going like this: God, this is my favorite song. It’s my jam. But then suddenly you stop, because the voices in the head say, “Don’t do it. You’re going to look like an idiot.”

And here’s another example. What if you had — maybe you’re sitting in a class or you’re at the office or work and you’re asked the question — and there’s a group of people there — and you know the answer to that question. But yet you don’t raise your hand, because maybe that question, maybe the answer is not what you thought it was. Or maybe you actually know the question and you know the answer, and you don’t want other people to know what, gosh, the same person always answers the questions. Either way we’re in a conundrum. We’re stuck with battled in the mind.

So what I’m sharing with you is this took you out of your mind, did it not? Where did it bring you? Here, maybe here, something that you’ve never experienced before. How many people here have not seen this instrument, heard it live? OK, that’s everyone but the kids that we coached.

So think of it like this. In my experience, if I were then to ask you: how many of you in the room would like to share their experience, stand up on the stage of what you felt from this instrument and being it played? How about you in the top with the long black hair? Oh, no, no, wait, how about you with the black shoes right around here? No, no, how about you here with the glasses? Wait a second. Did you just get nervous? I can’t even see anything right now.

So why did you feel like that? My words flowed over to you, you heard them, processed in the processor Pentium whatever it is now, and now you started to feel uncomfortable, maybe — maybe not. And in that I started to control a little bit, manipulate, shift your thought process, because you weren’t here, you were here; is that right? So if that’s true, and this instrument that plays music can be tuned, I started to realize and shift my ideas of how I would go through life and this is my idea. I believe passionately that we can shift the negative voices and stories that are going on in our minds into positive ones.

How do you do that? Well, there’s three main questions. The first question is: Is it the truth? Is whatever I’m sharing with someone or what you’re hearing from someone else that’s giving you feedback about your life true? You know a 100% that it’s true. First question.

Second question: Is it necessary? Is what I’m saying to myself in my head, is it necessary in the exact moment in what I’m doing with my life right then?

And the third question is: Does it improve upon the silence? This instrument is so powerful that it improved upon the silence of the room, you could feel it, you could see it. And then once you see and feel, you started to know.

So here I am and I’m thinking about the first time that I was going through my ideas in creating my lifestyle. I being very similar to the students at NIST was educated and around a lot of very creative people that influenced me in a positive way, which is just north of San Francisco and a city county called Marin, and growing up there, the people that I was around helped shift my mind to believe before I even knew it was possible.

So I was thinking of in creating within the same age range as most of you around 15, 16 when I first started practicing yoga. And at that time I didn’t really know what was going on because I was really focused on sports and yeah, other things, you know what I am talking about.

So what ended up happening was, I started creating this idea of this lifestyle where I could travel around the world, learn as much as I can, teach what I was learning and pass it on.

How was I going to do that? In the last five years as I was traveling, pretty much since 2002, consistently every year I’ve been back to Thailand for the last 14, 15 years. And the reason that I come back is to study, is to practice, is to breathe, is to learn about myself. I mean it’s rare that you have a 21 year old go off into a monastery for 10 days and be silent when other friends are in college playing. So there was something there that kept pulling me back here and in that time I created what’s called Pranaforce yoga. And Pranaforce is our company and the whole idea or our vision mantra is dream it real, live your dreams, make it happen, just do it right now as if it was already happening.

So I had to really shift my mind, and as I shared the story with other friends and family, you know what I was so excited that I thought everyone would also believe in me. But what I found out was, it wasn’t that, some really close friends, some really close family did not see or believe in what I was seeing and believing. So this is what happened. They would say wow, this is a great idea but here’s a laundry list of things why that won’t work. And I thought, wow, oh my gosh, really? Is that true? Is that necessary? Is that improving me help with my dreams?

So what I started to realize is that a lot of people are going to share with you ideas. I have no idea what your experience is within work, education, anything. But let me tell you this: if you share something with me personally, that is not where I wish to be relationship wise, business wise, finance wise, spirit wise, doesn’t matter what it is; I don’t have to believe you. I can agree with you, I can nod my head and say yes you know I totally understand. But I don’t have to believe you, because once I start to believe you that can shift the whole chemistry in my mind.

Because the thing is this: the subconscious mind and the conscious mind doesn’t know the difference between negative or positive energy; it just knows it as energy. So the subconscious mind if we’re saying things to someone, you’ll never be able to do that, that person’s subconscious mind, mine will say, “Wait, I can’t, oh gosh! OK, put that away.”

But the conscious mind, educated, smart, very cerebral, will say, “Wait, no; I’m smarter than that. Wait, I can stop that.” As long as I’m aware, how do we become more aware, we have to question the thoughts and the stories or the voices that we have within our mind. If you do not, it’s fine. You’ll be probably very successful, super happy, maybe even being of service on this planet right now. But if there is something that you’re passionate about, that you love, a dream, live it.

van Gogh, an incredible artist from the Netherlands, Vincent van Gogh said, “If you have voices in your mind that say that you cannot paint, by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” The idea is this: Only we can conceptualize and understand what’s going on in our mind. So only we can really acknowledge it and start to notice if it’s a benefit to us.

So I’m sitting here, standing, sharing with all these other people that are also sharing about voices — the voices are not just audible, talked, spoken voices; these are voices within the mind — the mind, maybe the hearts, may be other people, so we have to see it’s not just what we speak but it’s how we speak it, it’s when we speak it and all these things that come in cumulative that really make a difference.

So at this point now as I’ve been sharing and teaching and traveling, I’ve had more opportunity to connect with people. But the biggest thing that I’ve found is the connection with myself. If I’m not connecting with myself in any given place, my mind will be off, my heart will be off in other distant places and there’s a lot of distractions around us all the time as we know.

So I want to share with you one short small session so you get another feel of this instrument. And as you go through this experience this time, I’d like to invite you to close your eyes. Now what senses do we know that we have a sense of sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch? Take away the eyes, give yourself just a moment. You can leave them cracked open if you’re just a little bit weird, that’s fine.

As you close your eyes here, give yourself a moment to breathe and feel what you feel, with no wonder or interpretation as to what’s going on. If there’s anything within that space within you that you feel drawn to, just notice the thoughts, acknowledge them, right? Like clouds in the sky you cannot hook on a cloud and keep it forever; it has the past.


One of the most influential teachers in my life is from India. His name is Sai Baba. And the questions — the three questions that I had asked you to ask yourself when those negative emotions and thoughts arise or stories was from this quote: “Is what we speak the truth? Is it necessary? Does it improve upon the silence?



By Pangambam S

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