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Real Self-Care: Replacing Negativity

This post is part of a month-long series on Real Self-Care for world-changers. It’s about the experimentation: figuring out what works for you and following your heart. Simple, messy and everything in between. Self-care should be custom, intuitive, feasible and kind – to serve your actual life.


A few years ago, I had the great joy to study the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali at the Integral Yoga Institute in San Francisco. The sutra that has since stuck with me most, that I employ most often, concerns Pratipaksha Bhavana.

This translates, roughly, as the “Practice of substituting positive thought forms for disturbing, negative ones.”*

It’s not about lightweight positive thinking or premature equanimity. It’s about wisely choosing to reframe what is causing us pain. Pratipaksha bhavana suggests against suppressing the negative thoughts or over-analyzing.

Rather, in the midst of this experience, we focus the mind on thoughts that can counter negativity. This is useful for times of particular stress and developing deep resilience.

This can certainly involve cultivating gratitude.

Recently, it took real physical form for me when I replaced the mirror in my bedroom with a small altar table and some sacred objects.

I didn’t really enjoy seeing my reflection that often, and felt my mind crowded with thoughts (good and bad) about my appearance. Simply swapping out the mirror with a piece that offers more positivity has shifted the space energetically in ways that I’m enjoying.

It’s not about covering it up, it’s about replacing it with care.

[bctt tweet=”Where can you replace negativity with care?” username=”ChristyTending”]

While that’s certainly one tangible example of employing Pratipaksha Bhavana, I benefit from this practice by using it to dispel or rewire some of my inner narratives that simply don’t serve me. It’s simple, yet profound, and a caring way of curating our inner worlds.

* Translation from Inside the Yoga Sutras from Jaganath Carrera, Sutras 2.33 and 2.34.

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