So often in our every day lives, we focus on the things we don’t have yet… the things we are not grateful for… the things that are absent. But on this day, I suggest you use the technique of pratipaksha bhavanam to help you cultivate your own attitude of gratitude.
Pratipaksha bhavanam, in practice, is the art of replacing a negative, destructive thought with a positive, constructive one. It’s a conscious practice that helps us balance the scales of positivity and negativity, effectively neutralizing negative thoughts. This evens out the playing field of your mind so that a positive mindset has a fighting chance out their during the game of life.
I find that my positive mindset is created by a balance of the big and small things. Wayne Dyer provides the following nuggets in his audiobook “It’s Never Crowded Along The Extra Miles”:
- If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over head, and a place to sleep, you’re richer than 75% of the world…
- If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week because of illness.
- If you have money in your bank, any money in the bank, or even in your wallet, and spare change in a dish some place in your life, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. 92% of the people don’t have that.
- If you can attend a church meeting without fear – that is fear of arrest, or torture, or death – you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.
- And if you’ve never experienced the danger of battle or the loneliness of imprisonment, or the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you’re ahead of 500 million people in the world today.
- So, if you have the opportunity to think how you choose to think, to worship as you choose to worship, and you have a little bit of change in your pocket, and you’ve got your health, and you’ve got someone that cares about you, then you have an awful lot to be grateful for. And treasuring our divinity means being in a constant state of appreciation – looking for occasions to be joyful, to be happy, to be in a state of gratitude.
That’s the big picture. The small picture, for me, includes getting to see bees in my flowering artichokes, being recognized/remembered by a local farmer at the farmer’s market, that one great Americano with a chocolate croissant I allow myself on Saturday mornings. I’m filled with gratitude when I notice a local persimmon tree I hadn’t seen before, heavy with orange globes of fruit, or the green tips of pea seedlings shooting up from the garden. I’m grateful to have a family that loves me, and friends I care about, and I’m filled with gratitude when someone I respect asks me for help – I am thankful that I can be of service to the people in my life. I’m grateful that I got to go to school, all the way through college, and earned a degree which I am using, albeit to no great financial gain yet… Whoa! STOP THE TRAIN!!
See that, right there? “albeit to no great financial gain yet…” Hmm… How often are you in a lovely and loving state of mind, and then that tricky brain of yours sends out some negative thought to pull you down, distract you, and detract from your Attitude of Gratitude? Often, unfortunately. This is where Pratipaksha Bhavanam can help. Once you’re aware of the negative thought, call a do over on it, and replace it with a positive one. Here’s mine:
Do over: I’m grateful that I got to go to school, all the way through college, and earned a degree which I am using and which is allowing me to continue to discover myself as an artist, and which is prompting me to create my own stories, even when it’s scary. Even when it’s scary, I am grateful that I have the opportunity to do this, in this life, now.
See? That was a quick fix. The negative thought has been neutralized, and replaced with a positive thought. Magically, that gave rise to another positive thought which also gave me perspective and continued to put me in a positive frame of mind.
My Gr-Attitude has been cultivated, but remember – every day, every hour, every moment, each thought is another opportunity to choose. Will you support the power of Gratitude, or give in to the downward pull of negative thoughts? Take heart, yogis. Even if you find yourself in an evil nest of negativity, your next thought, or calling a mental “do over” on your current thought, can you get back on track.