Sutra 2.33: vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam
When distracted by wayward or perverted rationalisation, suitable counter-measures should be adopted to keep away or remove such obstacles, especially by the contemplation of the other point of view. Translation and interpretation by Swami Venkatesananda
When presented with disquieting thoughts or feelings, cultivate an opposite, elevated attitude. This is pratipaksha bhavana. Interpretation by Nischala Joy Devi
You have the power to change. We all do –it’s in our make up. Evolution is nothing but a progression of mistakes put to use for survival, and changing our minds, bodies, and selves is more or less the same process.
Does that make change easy? Hardly. Sometimes it’s simple and goes smoothly, sometimes it’s not and it doesn’t. But I find the most reliable way to change is to go about it in a roundabout fashion.
Got mental stress? Move your body.
Got physical strain? Deepen your breath.
Got your body and your breath moving but not feeling much? Pause. Reconnect to the power of thought.
The connection of the mind, body, and breath isn’t revolutionary, but that doesn’t make it any less profound. Shift one, and at least one of the others is bound to do something in response, if not directly follow. The next time you’re finding it difficult to change a negative thought into a positive one, try taking 2-10 deep breaths and then try again. Or move around and change your point of view, literally. Lifting my head to look out the window at the birds flapping in the rain-water pond on top of my neighbor’s roof always puts a smile on my face (my cats enjoy this view too!). And from there, it just feels easier to let the smile feed my thoughts –and even sit a little taller.
Pratipaksha bhavana can come in the most unusual ways and it doesn’t matter how. If it makes you feel joy, then that’s a good way to go!
Hari om, om tat sat!
Experience your true self and bring it into every moment of your living!
The Yoga Sutras are a classical text on yoga–a guidebook of sorts. Each week, 216 teacher Esther Palmer dives into one of the sutras and we let it take us where it takes us.