By chinmayi, May 11 2017 01:10PM
When I wrote my newsletter earlier in the year, I took a New Year's resolution to see the good in everything. This focus brought an interesting perspective and I admit there were several occasions when the mind just did not want to see things as 'good'. Usually, its the little things that cause a reaction in us, like the time my teenagers leave a soggy towel on their bedroom floor again, despite numerous conversations with them on the subject. Or when Max, our German Shepherd goes to the toilet on the kitchen foor - again!
Have you noticed how much the mind wants to judge everything? This is 'good' ... that is 'bad', there's 'too much' of something ... and 'not enough' of something else. Its as if the mind is fixated on fixing the world in which we live. How much mental energy do we expend on trying to 'think' the world in general - or our individual lives - into a better state. You may have noticed ... its not working!
Seeing the good in everything can be challenging but I found that as a daily practice it does have a great benefit. The mind may find this framework hard to accept initially, and if we try to rationalize ahead of time, what the outcome might be, the mind puts up all kinds of barriers, telling us that this is going to allow others to ride roiughshod over us. That we will end up being a doormat, if we never complain. However, in my experience, that isn't what actually happened.
For me, using 'this is good' as a benchmark allowed me to see more clearly my mind's reactions and judgements. I noticed that when the mind is judging something as other than good, I do have a conscious choice to see things differently.
This in fact is one of the core teachings of yogic philosophy. The idea that we can replace each negative thought with its immediate opposite. The purpose, as with all the practices, is to maintain our peace of mind.
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali 2:33 "When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of." In Sanskrit this is expressed as Vitarka Badhane Pratipaksa Bhavanam.
As with any new framework, it may take time for this new awareness to become automatic. For me the real benefit lies not just in maintaining my peace of mind, but also in identifying the subtle nuances of reaction in the mind, any time I am seeing some situation, other person, or myself as less than good. There is value in seeing these reactions in our own mind because when we watch them with a detached perspective, we then have the opportunity to notice the mind's resistance. Then we know that that is where our own inner work lies. This is the true meaning of practice.
I hope you find this article useful, and if you decide to explore the concept of 'pratipaksha bhavanam' yourself, do please share your experiences. We can always learn so much through discussion and sharing of personal experience.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti - Chinmayi