Cultivate the Opposite


Vitarka-badhane pratipaksha-bhavanam
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When thoughts trouble you, cultivate the opposite. YS 2.33
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This is one my favorite in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. 
It hints at the power and freedom that comes from being able to shift your perspective. 
It’s not about deciding to be happy when you’re sad. 
Or bypassing grief by slapping a smile on it.
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I think of it more as, when in an argument with someone can you be willing to see their perspective?
When something isn’t working in your career, in your relationship, in your practice, can you be flexible enough to do something different?
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Many of us born in human form are naturally stubborn, thick headed, and strong willed. 
Oh no?
That’s just me then…
It takes me a while when I’m convinced of something to imagine the possibility of doing something different. 
It can sometimes take divine intervention to bend my will. ⠀ 
What I’ve learned most from the study of Philosophy both Yogic and otherwise is that we’re all right and we’re all wrong almost all of the time. ⠀ 
No one way is perfect. 
And while it’s important to retain a strong point of view, it’s wise to allow yourself to be proven wrong at any given moment. 
To always be open to learning, and shifting, and making something new of your fresh vantage point.
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As an addendum, do you think there’s benefit in cultivating the opposite thought just in general?
To be able to hold more than one point of view in your mind at any given time?
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I think it has benefit just in showing you that your own point of view is often clouded. Shaped so much by your upbringing, your circumstances, your DNA, your own story. Considering a different perspective just for the sake of it, even if you don’t agree with it, helps to clean the mirror of your mind just a little bit by revealing your own unconscious biases. ⠀ 
Overtime this can aid on the path of liberation from mental suffering because as Thich Nhat Hanh describes, “Our mind can reflect ultimate reality without any intellectual searching. You mind will become like a mirror than can reflect reality as it is, without any distortion.” ⠀ 
That’s just what I think, today. 
What do you think? 

Melissa McLaughlin