The human brain is known to be susceptible to negative thoughts. There are many inherent negative thoughts, such as anger, greed, pride, sadness, worry, and tension, etc. , which permeates the mind and transcends its course. According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, any negative thoughts go against the Yamas and Niyamas, prescribed in the Classical or Ashtanga Yoga. Hence, the ancient Yogic saints developed a path to overcome these toxic emotions and promote healthy and positive thoughts, called Pratipaksha Bhavana. It is a yogic practice of an endeavor to discontinue negative thinking through the discipline of cultivating the opposite.
The Etymology of Pratipaksha Bhavana
In Sanskrit, “pratipaksha” means ” opposite” and “Bhavana” means “cultivation.” Yogis can practise pratipaksha Bhavana in order to actively change intrusive or destructive thoughts. The underlying premise of the concept of pratipaksha Bhavana is that if there prevail negative or unkind thoughts in mind, one can immediately create thoughts of positivity and non-violence and surpass those toxic emotions. This practice can also be incorporated into meditation or yoga asana when intrusive, negative thoughts attempt to challenge the concentration ability. Pratipaksha Bhavana induces positivity in mind and reduces suffering and untrue thoughts. It is highly beneficial when applied to normal everyday occurrences.
Why is it important to inculcate Pratipaksha Bhavana?
According to the Yogasutra of Patanjali, there are certain emotions and feelings that are pertinent to be inculcated in life, in order to promote a healthy well being. It is desirable to have a considerable amount of awareness about things over and beyond our own. The concept of Pratipaksha Bhavana is about expunging the negative from our lives and replacing the same with sublime and virtuous thoughts. The fact is that terrible things can happen to us as life is unpredictable. But some problems in our lives are self-inflicted, meaning they are the result of our own poor choices or lack of self- control. If we tend to hold pain and negativity, it might turn to be detrimental for mental health. Hence, it becomes impertinent to remove such toxic thoughts so that our minds can take leaps and feel light and relaxed. Pratipaksha Bhavana helps us to do the same. The persistent practice of the same tends to replace anger with calmness, agitation with tranquillity, jealousy with contentment, and so on. It is about navigating the emotional turbulence so as they reach the acme of self-realization and awareness.
Benefits of Pratipaksha Bhavana :
- Pratipaksha Bhavana has been proven to be an invincible tool to abate negativity and toxic emotions and navigate the same to a path of positivity and elated thoughts. It helps to weaken the negative thought and emotion by denying attention to them. It negates those self-deprecating thoughts, which are the outcome of negative self-talk, wherein you tend to judge yourself that it is the negative karma of the past. There is no need to become too upset about your negative thoughts. Instead, just keep working towards the self of righteous excellence, which is the ultimate destination of spiritual awakening. Pratipaksha Bhavana aids in achieving the same.
- In the regular course of life, more often than not, we tend to encounter negative thoughts, which in turn ingrain serious self-doubt within us. So through Pratipaksha Bhavana, we can try to substitute positive beliefs that are contrary to negative thoughts. This helps to stabilize the mind and keep the negative thoughts at bay so as to bring in a balance between the mind and body.
- Through Pratipaksha Bhavana , we can achieve the stability of positive thinking. However, it is not possible to completely disparage negative thoughts from the mind. Those toxic emotions may come back, but it will gradually phase out and lose their momentum. There would be a paradigm shift in the thinking pattern, and navigation of negativity to positivity will become a habit. This simple logic of the yogic technique will manifest and transform the overall personality and behavioral pattern.
- Pratipaksha Bhavana tends to re-engineer the neurotransmitters in our brains and helps the mind to focus our minds on more positive thoughts. This, in turn, helps to permanently change the course of our thinking patterns. This endeavor aims to reduce anxiety and stress to a considerable extent and also help in directing the natural reflexes into a positive course. The practice of Pratipaksha Bhavana is not only about substituting a positive thought for the opposite negative one; it is also about choosing a life-affirming thought process that soothes, nourishes and uplifts mental health. It is an endeavor to empower your thought process with positivity and conviction.
There are no doubts for guessing that Pratipaksha Bhavana is a simple technique. But it requires determination and focuses, not to mention rigorous practice. It will not be possible to substitute negativity with positive thoughts in the first go. But a diligent practice will definitely yield good results. So next time you feel anxious or agitated, gently pull your attention away from the disquieting thoughts, and direct your mind towards positive thoughts. It might be strenuous at first, but the efforts will definitely help you see the flip side of the coin, which will bring peace of mind and tranquillity.
While Pratipaksha Bhavana allows us to release our painful and destructive emotions and reach a higher pedestal of self-awareness, any of us who have found ourselves in a state of deep anger or hurt know that shifting our feelings is much easier said than done. The toxic emotions tend to tame the psychological and neurological parts of the body. Our attempt is to break that envelope and achieve greater heights of self-actualization.On a deeper level, this practice assists us with spiritual transformation and liberation. The emotions of love, peace contentment and compassion are the natural state of our souls. When we religiously practice Pratipaksha Bhavana , we tend to align ourselves with those emotions and help us move to deeper levels of grace and consciousness.
At Hith Yoga, we understand that the current lifestyles make it tough for a human to remain positive all the time. Also, there is this thing called “toxic positivity” which further aggravates the negativity inside.
We have started with our online workshops recently. These workshops are targeted specifically at the beginners who want to feel the benefits of meditation but find it hard to start. You may access the details on this link.
See also: Understanding Toxic Positivity and how to counter it.