Well, it’s officially been one year since the pandemic. For me, it’s hard to believe it’s only been a year; I feel like I have lived 3 or 4 lifetimes in the past year. Maybe that’s what the ancient yogis meant when they talked about multiples lives. I definitely feel like I have had to reincarnate many times in this year already. How about you?
My yoga therapist talks to me about Bhavana’s a lot. He reminds the importance they hold in one’s yoga practice. What is a Bhavana? Patanjali’s words within the Yoga Sutras (ancient yogic text).
Sutra 2.33: vitarka-bādhane pratipakṣa-bhāvanam “When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of.” (Swami Satchidananda translation).
This is pratipaksha bhavana. My yoga therapist tells me is a shifting of viewpoints to a positive outcome. Think about how many times we set ourselves up to fail or not fulfill our desired outcome.
“He will never change.”
“I always get the raw end of the deal, so I know this won’t go well”
“She is always going to act this way and not listen to me”
“I never get the promotion; it always goes to someone else”
I’m not saying that if you think positively, you will get whatever you want, yet also, when there is a shift inside us about our perspective, there is a shift in those around us. There is a change in energy. Have you ever met a positive person, and it seems like everything “always goes right for them”? It seems that everything they touch turns to gold. Sometimes that is just a shift in the assessment of the situation. You might get a flat tire and say, “This always happens to me, why can’t I ever get a break?” and someone else might say, “The most amazing thing happened to me today. I got a flat tire, and this wonderful couple stopped to help me, and I learned that we both grew up close to where I grew up in Ohio, and then AAA showed up to tow me to the tire shop, and I was able to get my tired fixed right away. I was so lucky.” The same thing happens to two people, two totally different experiences because they look at the experience differently. When we are looking for the positive, we will find it. When we are looking for the negative, we will find it.
Often when we are in yoga class, our teacher guides us to see the positive in the world (I hope) and invites us to be grateful for ourselves (positive) and what our bodies can do. And then, after an hour-long class of breathing, fulfilling deep breaths, and thinking positively about the world and ourselves, we walk about feeling great! We have a shift in perspective; we are focused on the positive. This doesn’t have to be in yoga class. This can be in everyday life off the mat.
A dear friend of mine shared with me that she has been setting time aside in the morning to meditate and to walk on the treadmill as part of her self-care each day. She would have such a positive experience with her mediation, get on the treadmill, and get looped into a negative thought cycle. This was discouraging to her. One day, she was running short on time but wanted to do both activities, so she listened to her meditation/affirmations while walking on the treadmill and felt good. She was able to move her body and activate her mind in a positive direction. I told her I love walking meditations! I was so proud of her for finding a new way to shift her patterns in a direction that severed her desired outcome.
What can you shift today? What are you thinking about in a negative thought pattern? Is that serving you to hold onto it today? Is it producing the desired outcome you want in your life? How can you shift your perspective and find the positive?
I was trying to shift my perspective as we approached the 1-year anniversary of the Covid lockdown. As I was French braiding my own hair one morning, I realized I had taught myself to do so many things this past year because I choose to do something rather than stay in a negative thought. For example, I taught myself to knit so that I would stop doom scrolling election news. I wanted this epiphany to be a teaching moment for my 7-year-old daughter. So, as I French braided her hair, I said, “We have all learned to do so many things we didn’t know how to do before we experienced this pandemic. I learned how to French braid my own hair. What have you learned to do in coronavirus?” She turned and looked at me with her sweet innocent 7-year-old face and said, “Oh, I learned to shift gears. You know, like when you told me Grandma and Grandpa were coming for Christmas and then they couldn’t come because the covid numbers were too high. Or when we have had to cancel plans and change the plan again and again. Well, I have learned to shift gears.” What a shift in perspective! I was humbled by her profound insight and capacity for expansive thinking. I was looking at the practical things I had learned, and here she was, without skipping a beating, telling me, “Mom, I have learned to pivot when life throws me difficult and disappointing challenges and find a new positive way to be me in the midst of the constant change of this past year!”
How can you shift gears today? How can you look at things differently? How can you trade in the negative thought for a positive one?
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