July 22, 2012

Pratipaksha Bhavanam and Affirmations

Do you always think positive thoughts?

Do you always tell yourself that you are loved and accepted?

Do you think that you are beautiful?

If you answered "YES" to one, or more, of the questions above then you are better (or perhaps simply more evolved) than me.  

And you know what?! 

I'm OK with that because I know that I am on my own journey to self-love and self-acceptance; and I accept where I am today.

Besides, I have a couple of tools that continue to help me down the path towards a more healthy and happy mind.  Again, if you answered "YES" to one, or more, of the questions above, you might not need to read this post.  Therefore, you have my permission to leave. 

BUT WAIT! 

If you struggle to keep positive thoughts in your mind, if you are striving to have more self-love and self-acceptance in your life, if you have a hard time accepting that you are beautiful, then perhaps - just maybe - (I hope) you might find this post enlightening.

Tool #1: Pratipaksha Bhavanam

According to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras (2:33, to be exact)

When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of.  This is Pratipaksha Bhavanam.

Source

As YogaLia over at Yoga Community explained, "this, essentially, is yoga's version of The Secret. If you're thinking negative thoughts...stop doing that.  And choose some positive ones, instead."  In fact, the whole pratipaksha bhavanam thing is pretty simple: if you change your thoughts, then - without even trying - you will change your mood, and once we change our moods, then our whole outlook on life changes too!  Suddenly the same people, the same situations, the same things that drove us absolutely bonkers before is OK - perhaps even beautiful, charming, and nice.
By cultivating an opposite or positive thought when we are in the throes of emotional turbulence, we pave the way for self-healing.  Patanjali is simply asking us to replace anger with compassion, violent thoughts with peaceful ones, hate with love, and even to replace our general feelings of tension and stress with a sense of relaxation and contentment. (Source)
This is, of course, incredibly easier said than done.  In reality, the practice of pratipaksha bhavanam might require me/you/us to remove ourselves from unhealthy and harmful situations, giving me/you/us the time and space to feel safe, comfortable, and calm.  It is only then that we can put the situation into perspective, and begin to cultivate a more healthy and positive thoughtful approach. (Source)

So, yes, what I am saying is that there really is something to that ol' parable about "the power of positive thinking."  When it comes to the thoughts in our mind, we always have two choices; why not choose the positive?!

Tool #2: Affirmations

Sometimes, when I can't depend on myself to come up with a positive and uplifting thought on my own, I call upon an affirmation.  Although this affirmation could simply be a popular uplifting quote or saying (i.e. Be the change you wish to see in the world - Mahatma Ghandi, etc.), I am particularly drawn to songs and chants.

Don't let me fool you - I DO NOT have a good voice.  

Regardless, that doesn't stop me from singing songs/chants like this one:

I am the light of my soul.
I am beautiful.
I am bountiful.
I am bliss.
I am.
I am.


On days when ED is really trying hard to breakdown my walls, I find the "light of my soul" song to be really empowering.  If I can remember - for long enough - that I am beautiful, I am bliss, and I have a light in my soul that deserves to be protected and shared, then I can outrun the darkness of ED.

Another one of my ALL. TIME. FAVORITE. chants is Om Namah Shivayah (rough translation: "I bow to God" or "I honor the God within").  According to "The Ancient Power of Sanskrit Mantra and Ceremony: Volume I" by Thomas Ashley-Farrand:
[Although] this mantra has no direct translation, the sounds relate directly to the principles which govern each of the first five chakras on the spine...Earth, water, fire, air, ether.

Here's a version by Krishna Das that I love!  Something about his voice reminds me of Johnny Cash...I just love its earthy quality.


Next time - I promise that we will return to a recipe post.  I know it has been a while.  I have been busy in the kitchen, but other posts have simply risen to the top!

Question of the Day:


Do you use affirmations in your life?  If so, which ones, and what do they mean to you?!  I am always looking for new affirmations to work into my own repertoire. :)

Blessings,
Ally and Bo

4 comments:

  1. I do Om Namah Shivaya too! I also love Om Shanti and Hari Om (which I'm sure you already do.) I also say "Let Go" and breathe in while saying "let" then exhale for "go". I think I have other ones but I can't remember them right now! Thank you for another wonderful post!

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    1. Om Shanti is one of my favorites as well...and Bo loves to do Hari Om's with me. :) hehehe I will have to give "Let Go" a try!

      Peace and Joy~
      Ally

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  2. I Love Psalm 139...try the 'Message'...Oh How He Loves us!!!

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    1. THANK YOU, Mom! I just read Psalm 139 and felt His love. Ommm...

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