by Mona Keddy
One of the first tenets of yoga is to develop an internal awareness, to know our self. On one level, this awareness is of our limited tendencies, our patterns of behaviour, our thought cycles. Ultimately, however, we come to know our spacious, infinite and serene essential nature, despite the tendencies that may obscure or hinder our connection to it.
Actively cultivating the opposite is a specific yoga practice called pratipaksha bhavanam in Sanskrit. It refers to developing a practice of moving against the grain or in opposition to a frame of mind, thought pattern or mode of behaviour that has become entrenched. Often this entrenched pattern does not serve us and yet changing it is difficult.
The change process can be described like this: habitual ways of behaving create grooves in our brain analogous to wagon wheel ruts. The well-worn road of ruts causes our wagon (mind) to slip repeatedly into the familiar path. We move along easily to the same outcome. A new road takes work. New grooves replace the old ones only when they become worn as the originals. To create the new path we must intentionally move in the opposite direction. We must get out of the familiar rut to forge the new. The practice of actively and intentionally creating the opposite response builds the new road.
If my life feels full and it seems impossible to lie down for 10 – 15 minutes in Savasana, cultivating the opposite thought and action is challenging. And yet so necessary. Lie down. Rest. At first, this is not a smooth passage. The road is bumpy and my Savasana is not easy. However, as I continue to make time to rest, I slide into the spaciousness of Savasana more easily. I find the experience reviving and renewing. I then arise and meet the challenges of the day with more equanimity. Life is more spacious when I have taken this time. Over the years, this challenge has become easier — not always, but often. I still need the reminders to prioritize rest. Do you?
Next week, a guided Savasana.