Wednesday, July 08, 2009

There’s an endless soundtrack that runs through my mind…all of our minds. It’s the mental chatter of everyday life, the background music that sets the mood and tone of our days. I’ve been thinking about how often (I speak for myself) that chatter is critical, negative, second-guessing and full of resistance. It’s a practice to realize that nonviolence, and even more than nonviolence, the practice of compassion begins at the level of thoughts. After all, thoughts are something which accompany our every waking (and even sleeping) moment.

But it’s challenging and I admit that I notice myself slipping into critical thoughts nearly every other breath. I didn’t do it right, it wasn’t good enough, and so on (insert specific situation here). So the practice of shifting thoughts is one that requires activity. Criticism is easy, compassion, now that takes work.

This morning, I signed up on: to make the commitment to practice nonviolence. It’s a practice that begins in my own home—and the most intimate part of my home—my head and body.

Pradipakshabhavana is a fancy Sanskrit term for this practice. It’s described by Patanjali in the classic text the Yoga Sutra as one of the key components of a yoga practice. Pradipakshabhavana is the art of cultivating the opposite thought when we are caught in or stuck in a negative groove. It’s a way of reframing, looking at thoughts or a discussion from a different light. This is far different than repressing, being in denial or looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Pradipakshabhavana asks us to take a broader view. Yoga asks us to take the vow of nonviolence—and compassion—that begins with ourselves.

After all, our own mind, our own thoughts are the only ones we can control. If we work at it.