Pratipaksha Bhava what?

May 25, 2013

"When presented with disquieting thoughts or feelings,

cultivate an opposite, elevated attitude.

This is Pratipaksha Bhavana."


As Nischala Joy Devi writes, in her interpretation of The Yoga Sutras, The Secret Power of Yoga, Pratipaksha Bhavana it is a personal practice that "helps to change my attitude rather than hoping to change the situation or the people who 'cause me' to be unhappy."


She writes:

"Pratipaksha offers the option of cultivating the opposite thoughts, feelings, and actions. Bhavana is the Sanskrit root of our English verb 'to be.' Together they encourage us to reverse our attitude, to embrace a noble way of being...


With clarity we realize that changing the situation may not be possible; rather we see that changing our attitude allows peace to bloom."


When we change our ways of seeing - we sow the seeds for changing our very being...


"Pratipaksha Bhavana is a simple and direct way of keeping our minds calm and our hearts open...



One of my favorite ways to practice Pratipaksha Bhavana is when I am driving.  I admit, I usually drive faster than slower. So when someone pulls out in front of me and is driving the speed limit instead of getting totally frustrated at them for slowing me down and making me late and generally ruining my entire day, I bless them.  I thank them for reminding me to drive slower, to be safe, to not be rushed, to prevent me from getting a ticket.  This changes my entire perspective. 


I recently had a unique experience of this while in Maui.  I was attending a workshop in upcountry, Makawao, but I was staying in Kihei down by the beach about 40 minutes away.  Each morning I needed to leave Kihei at 615am to get to Makawao by 7am.  The commute wasn’t too difficult, mostly highway with one small 3 mile section being a rough two lane cut through, short cut to the next highway.  One night there was a pretty terrible storm bringing in lots of rain and huge waves.  I never saw the waves but it was wet in Kihei.  So I leave in the morning and it’s raining but the highway is pretty good and hey, I’m from Seattle, so I drive my normal speed (fast).  At the light, I make my turn onto the cut through and immediately go through standing water that reaches the under carriage of my car.  I noticed it but didn’t think too much about it and begin to travel the road as I had the previous mornings (fast).  I don’t get too far when a beat up old white flat bed truck literally pulls out in front of me causing me to break and immediately drives about 10 miles slower than the posted speed limit which is about 20 miles slower than I was driving.  My first reaction was “seriously?” But, I’m in Hawaii and I chill, turn up my Hawaiian tunes and settle in.  I remember my habit and reluctantly bless him and decide not to ride his bumper.   We don’t drive too far before he slows down even more and I follow him through another puddle of standing water that reaches the undercarriage of my car and then that happens again and again.  Soon, I realize, this beat up white flat bed truck is this morning’s guardian angel patiently leading me through this road where I would have in my haste absolutely hydroplaned and landed up in the sugar cane fields which lined both sides of the road. My initial impatience transformed into gratitude as I followed the white truck that knew every spot where there would be standing water out onto the highway, we traveled the highway together a little bit and then we went our separate ways.  That early morning I absolutely felt held by something bigger.  I know my practice of Pratipaksha Bhavana settled my mind so I could experience with more clarity my commute that morning.  Do you have some situations in your life that would benefit from a practice of Pratipaksha Bhavana?  I would love to hear your experience.


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