Pratipaksha Bhavana

Want to borrow my neat new tactic lately for reacting to circumstances, news, ideas, notions that are TOTALLY freaky?

Well, it’s not really MY tactic, per say. I suppose I could take this mystifying experience and make it something of my own, but my experience leads me to simply identify it with a yogic principle. The principle known as Pratipaksha Bhavana…or changing a negative thought for a positive one.

This happened in a radical way just a few days ago. Something that really freaked me out – like, really wigged me out and made me feel instantaneously insecure – happened and, despite the chaotic internal gymnastics that ensued, I replied with mock enthusiasm. Literally saying, “RIGHT ON!!!”

HA! How’s THAT for “fake it till ya make it?” I immediately felt more confident just by speaking the words. Quite literally removing the inherent reaction of insecure, vulnerable and frankly frightened and inserting a ballsy, sanguine, cool-as-a-cucumber reply. Perhaps we can really shift our emotional vibration, invoking calm where there was once fear, simply by altering our perception.

Our power is in everything and nothing. Hold it.

I’ve been thinking about this pretty profusely, since my experience the other afternoon. The fact that the whole exchange occurred in a matter of minutes is what baffles me most. Usually I reply quickly, worry over how my reply sounded, berate myself for not feeling more confident/for sounding overly confident/for not replying at all/enter what you will but this time I just paused, mentally darted to and fro across the avenue of potential riposte, and then decided rather unconsciously on an expression of simulated poise.

There’s something immensely empowering about deciding to see something differently. About having a physical, emotional, somatic reaction to something and setting it back, right side up with intellect, spirit and faith. What an enchanting experience, this life, constantly learning all that we are capable of, day in and day out…

I find sometimes, however, that in thinking we’ve learned something, we’ve actually just remembered it. An action, a practice, a lesson, an experience…one from a past life, or passed down from the spirits of our ancestors, or one just swirling about the stars for the taking. Knowledge embedded in perhaps not our cellular DNA, but most certainly in our spiritual matrix.

Lately in times of doubt, moments where the ordinary reaction for me would be to stress out and “bite” onto, if you will, when I have an angsty thought that my ego and subconscious threaten my rational, peaceful mind with…lately I’ve not been biting. I’ve salivated, sure, I’ve looked at the mess of worry, the knots of dread and been able to taste it. But I’ve let it slide by, as though on a conveyer buffet belt, letting the unhealthy sliver pass by, waiting patiently for a dish of fruit.

Instead of just sitting in bliss, though, I’ve had a reaction. It’s not like the bliss has come delivered with ease, a gift from the unknown. There’s some hand deep inside the cosmos, stirring this around intentionally, plucking fears and doubts from the garden of my being and planting little seeds of wonder, of curiosity. My mind has released the salivating, craving, deep desiring to worry and, instead, what’s been inserted in that cosmic space can be summed up by seven little words.

It’s all happening as it should be. 

I say it, and I believe it. I’ve said it before, but now I believe it in a different, more emphatic sense. In fact, this is one of those moments where I’m certain I’m not learning but remembering.

There’s a moment we all have when we could not love ourselves less. Rock bottom, in the relationship of the Self. There’s also a moment where we could not love ourselves any more. Where our admiration for, appreciation of, pride in and acceptance of ourself is so resoundingly full and humble it could drift up and off to the moon. Most of the time we bob in the undulations of the in-between, and that’s okay. That’s normal. It’s rather healthy, I dare say. But I will admit that I wish for us to kick our legs furiously, treading the cool, soothing water of said in-between. Rising slowly and steadily to sometimes pop our heads above the surface, into the fathomless aura of enlightenment, getting little tastes of what it feels like to release body and mind for the oneness of spirit. Drifting high above the thrashing swells of scorn and insecurities, the sandy bottom where the self is questioned and the Divine does not seem to visit.

When we feel ourselves being pulled by the undercurrent, down towards that persistent place of threatening depth, may we engage in Pratipaksha Bhavana. May we take the little stub of our eraser and replace fear with trust, loathing with love, scorn with clarity. May we hold ourselves as no one else can hold us. May we give ourselves over to the divine. May we remember that all is happening as it should. May we ever provide our greatly daring selves the boundless love required by our adventuring souls. May we always find strength to feed that hunger, satisfy that yearning. May we remember how. Our power is in everything and nothing. May we remember.




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