This is a 35-minute meditation practice that is useful when you are managing physical pain or emotional pain that may be felt in the body. This practice is based on the concept of Pratipaksha Bhavana that can be found in the Yoga Sutras. Sutra 1.33 as translated by Nischala Joy Devi says:

“When presented with disquieting thoughts or feelings, cultivate an opposite, elevated attitude. This is Pratipaksha Bhavana.”

This is a challenging practice – but it is one that has the potential to change physical and mental suffering. We will practice how to interrupt negative mental states and replace them with positive states. This will train your mind for times when you are feeling physical or mental discomfort. One of the important ways meditation creates lasting change is by helping you discover the habits of your mind that are contributing to pain, stress, and suffering. Everyone has chronic, unconscious habits of thinking and feeling. Some patterns, such as chronic worrying, disapproval, self-criticism, anger, or loneliness end up intensifying and reinforcing chronic pain. Other patterns such as acceptance, appreciation, or humor can reduce or prevent pain. With each round of this practice, the mind and body become shaped more in the direction of responding to future experiences with positive thoughts. The practice can be done anywhere at anytime. After listening to the podcast you can use these VERY basic guidelines whenever you need the help of the practice.

  1.  Start by finding a comfortable position
  2. Bring your attention to your breath
  3. Wish for yourself: “May I be free of this pain. May I be free of this suffering”
  4. Begin to focus your attention on feeling/imagining one pair of the following:
  • lightness/heaviness
  • stillness/movement
  • warmth/coolness
  • tension/relaxation

You can also choose to work with an opposite state of mind:

  • calm/stress
  • happiness/sadness
  • acceptance/anger
  • hope/disappointment
  • love/loneliness
  • courage/fear
  • self-confidence/self-criticism

Lastly, you can work with a sensation or feeling that is opposite to a painful sensation you are currently feeling. Ask yourself: What state of mind and body would heal what I am feeling right now? Call this the “Healing Opposite”. The answer may be relief, comfort, warmth, energy, acceptance, forgiveness, courage, etc. Whatever you choose will become the focus of the meditation. You choose this opposite.

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