One of the yogic techniques is the art of creating an opposite attitude to something you do not like. In simple words, looking at the opposite view point.
When your mind tends to give you thoughts, about something which your intellect does not find acceptable, you need to select an opposite thought to superimpose on the original one that you didn’t like. For example, if someone were to be rude to you, naturally you would develop animosity towards that person.
This yogic technique tells you to look at it in an opposite manner. You can tell yourself that maybe the person who was rude to you was going through a period of stress and did not realise how he or she was speaking. You can tell yourself that maybe it was in your luck to face a test of your reactivity. You can ask yourself if you said something that had instigated this reaction. There are many such opposite feelings that you can create to nullify the rudeness of the other person and thereby, nullify feeling bad about it.
Maharishi Patanjali says – “let us not forget, however, that, just as a sandbank may shift and change its shape if the tide or the current changes, so also the Samskaras may be modified by the introduction of the other kinds of thought-waves into the mind.”
This is not a book that recommends magic results, but it does recommend consistent effort. I would like you to think about the art of learning how to play cricket. Technically, it is almost impossible to see a ball at 145 miles an hour and then decide how to play it. No batsman can do that. So how do they learn play a ball that moves faster than you can think? It’s called practice!
Maharishi Patanjali remarks – “Expose the mind to constant thoughts of anger and resentment, and you will find that these anger-waves build up anger-samkaras, which will predispose you to find occasions for anger throughout your daily life. A man with well developed anger-samskaras is said to have ‘a bad temper’.”
You need to go to the nets and keep practicing till you intuitively know what to do. You need to accept that improvement will happen, only a bit at a time, and not through any magic potion. And so it is with spiritual practices. Instead of looking at the rate of success, look at the rate of decreasing failure.
Even on the subject of loving yourself one can look at the flip side by saying, these days I dislike myself less and then say I hardly dislike myself, which will soon lead to the fact that you do not dislike yourself at all. From here it can be about how much you like yourself and at some point, it can be how much you love yourself and thereafter, how you love yourself completely.It’s about eradication. A little bit at a time. It’s not about getting a distinction in your first attempt; it’s about improving your score consistently.
I once went to Gurudev and said I feel embarrassed while treating ladies, what should I do if I get sensual thoughts? He smiled as if he had been asked that question a few hundred times before. He said, “Give the women you are treating the form of a child or an old woman.” See the person in your visualisation at the age of 4 or 5 and also of 75 or 80 years. This was a unique example of Pratipakshabhavana where you superimpose not an opposite emotion but variation of visualisations to a negative one.
Watch Yourself Do Good (To Be Read Repeatedly)
The process of loving yourself cannot be restricted to the conscious mind, you have to love yourself at the level of the unconscious mind as well. The easiest way to do that is to watch yourself doing things that you find admirable, which will be justified in your mind as deeds of accomplishment.
When you see yourself doing things that you find likable or lovable your self-worth goes up.
Conversely, when you see yourself doing things which you do not respect or find acceptable, you lose respect for yourself. The problem that most of us face is that our mind gets conditioned form childhood and the habits we form include the way we react to stimuli. This includes the way we analyse things. You can call this habitual thinking. You will agree it is difficult to make changes in thinking habits.
The solution lies in repetition. We need to superimpose multiple layers of impressions in order to erode existing ones. It is far more difficult than learning the 37 times-table in arithmetic. That is the reason for watching yourself do likeable actions again and again. Just like practicing cricket on the nets. It is only through repetitive actions that we are convinced that –
Our deeds are worthy.
Our actions are likeable.
Our attitude is loveable.
When you distance yourself from the deed by not being the doer, you automatically become free of the negative or positive emotion. This again needs multiple impressions and continuous reminding in a hypnotic manner.
As you might have experienced, negating a deed, which you did not find palatable as an observer, required great effort, and so much self-counselling.
So if you do a good deed or a not-so-good one, and do not negate it, it gets stored as a Samskara which requires positive fructification (at a higher level of consciousness than the stage that I am now referring to, you will probably not want to take benefit of the good deeds as well. We will discuss this later under the heading of Karmamukta.)