“When negative thoughts such as violence and so on are caused to be done, or even approved of, whether incited by greed, anger or infatuation, whether indulged in with mild, medium or extreme intensity, they are based on ignorance and bring certain pain. Reflecting thus is also pratipaksa bhavana”
I am spending some time thinking about this sutra today as it is something that I have to be aware of, as I am prone to holding onto negative thoughts, and spend time trying to over analyze the thought.
First, i want to define what pratipaksa bhavana is. From yogipedia.com:
Pratipaksha bhavana is a yogic practice outlined in the Yoga Sutras in which yogis discontinue negative ways of thinking through the discipline of “cultivating the opposite.” From Sanskrit, pratipaksha means “opposite” and bhavana means “cultivation.”
According to the Sutras, negative thoughts are described as anything against the yamas or niyamas. Yogis can practice pratipaksha bhavana in order to actively change intrusive or destructive thoughts.
This sutra is important because our thoughts become actions. As we have negative thoughts, we have negative actions. Continued negative thoughts and actions create negative habits, which will yield suffering and pain.
Jaganath Carrera says that "suppression is not used to eliminate negative thoughts or acts, since suppressed thoughts eventually return with doubled force." This is significant as I am a person that holds onto thoughts, negative or otherwise. These thoughts consistently resurface later, and take hold of me and definitely cause me a lot of pain. Finding a way to work through these negative thoughts is something that I am working on. I have found that not only does the pain affect me, but it can affect others, and relationships. When these negative thoughts resurface, they tend to take complete hold of my mind, and I try to analyze and "figure out" the thought. This does very little good as the only information I have is the information that has caused the negative thought, and it creates a spin cycle in my mind, that generally just creates a more toxic situation.
I think that one of the ways that I am going to work on this is through my yoga practice. When practicing yoga, concentrate on my mind-body-breath connection. By practicing having the feel of these connected, I hope to gain more control over my mind and body. In most situations, I find that the breath sets the tone for the mind and body. Having a controlled breath will allow me to have a controlled mind and a controlled body. By experiencing this and practicing this daily, I should have better control when I feel negative thoughts or actions arising.
In addition to this, within my practice, both in asanas and meditation, creating thoughts of positivity, love, and kindness, I can set the tone for myself. With consistent daily practice, implementing both of these practices, I will work through the negativity and not suppress, but counter.
The great thing about this approach I think is that these will not be reactions to the negative thoughts, but proactive approaches to improve my ability to both deal with negative thoughts when they arise, which they are bound to do at points, but also minimize the number of times this will happen. Beginning a day with meditation and asanas intentionally geared toward this goal will pave the way for success.