I practised Yoga for many years and taught for nearly 16 alongside training as a therapist.
During this wonderful journey I studied and reflected on the Sutras of Patanjali. A collection of Indian Sutras on the theory and practice of Yoga. Many only think of the physical postures and not the whole Yogic approach. Thoughts vary as to when they were compiled by Patanjali but they were certainly completed by 400BC.
I find them enlightening and to be the fore runner of so much self- help advice around today.
One of my favourites, which I often read out in class was Book 2 Sutra 33-
“When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite (positive) ones should be thought of. This is Pratipaksha Bhavana “
(Sanskrit -Pratpaksha=opposite thoughts bhavanam= should be thought of)
Patanjali gives a nice clue on how to control the mind and obstruct the thoughts we do not want. The best way, he says is to invite opposite thoughts.
So, for instance, if anger, anxiety or even hatred has risen, try to think about someone or something you love, think of or be with a person, animal or place that brings comfort…listen to uplifting music, watch some comedy, read an inspiring book and if at all possible, come out of and change the environment.
We can’t control people around us or many things that happen in life but we can choose to control how we react. Negative thoughts, if allowed to run free, collect more of the same, so choosing to overturn them with a positive thought gives you greater control of the mind.
Place yourself in the company (or phone!) a friend, a loved one. Deliberately choose to take yourself away from the negative thoughts. Choose to focus on things that will bring relaxed peaceful healing chemicals to your body allowing your mind to think more clearly and regain mental and physical balance.
With all the knowledge from my therapy and yoga training am I always calm, in control, anxiety free? No!
Recently feeling distressed from an emotionally upsetting time, during conversation with a good friend (and previous student) she made me nearly jump out of my skin when she suddenly, loudly and excitedly shrieked
“Oh! Oh! Oh! Ruthie have you done Pratty Wotsit ?” (Sorry Patanjali…)
Sigh …at least some of the teachings went in then…Heal thyself physician!