THE SIMPLE THERAPEUTIC YOGA PRACTICE THAT WILL SHIFT NEGATIVE EXPERIENCES EVERY TIME
Cultivating the opposite is a simple therapeutic practice that can shift:
- Physical tension to relaxed muscles,
- Mental struggle to flowing with ease,
- Inner conflict to presiding calm.
The technique is to simply counteract something with something opposing in an effort to cultivate balance, steadiness, equilibrium, or peace.
There is a story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit.
Such bad luck, they said sympathetically! Maybe, the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.
How wonderful, the neighbors exclaimed! Maybe, replied the farmer.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg.
Such bad luck, the neighbors again came to offer their sympathy! Maybe, answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by.
How wonderful, the neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out! Maybe, said the farmer.
You can see in this story how the neighbor’s experiences varied dramatically with each event, while the farmer’s experience was always calm. Rather than habitually judge, how awful, how wonderful, how bad, how good, and ride the highs and lows felt by the neighbors, the farmer chooses not to judge each event right away and, as a result, experiences life with more balance.
Is balance beneficial? Let’s look at balance from the perspectives of the body, breath, and mind.
From the perspective of the body, balance is an even distribution of weight enabling someone to remain upright and steady.
Beneficial? I’m sure we agree on yes.
To maintain balance, when weight is shifted away from center anywhere in the body, weight also shifts away from center in the opposite direction somewhere else in the body.*
From the perspective of the breath, balance is a smooth flow in the respiratory system to maintain stable levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
To maintain balance, when carbon dioxide levels increase (like when you exercise), the breathing rate increases to increase oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide. When you stop exercising, the level of carbon dioxide returns to normal and breathing gets easier again.*
* I acknowledge and embrace the simplicity of these statements.
In both of these cases, the body and the breath cultivate the opposite to maintain steadiness and ease.
From the perspective of the mind, balance is emotional equilibrium, which is peace of mind.
Desirable? HECK, YES!
Is peace of mind possible? Maybe. It’s your choice.
The farmer maintained peace of mind during events in his life, while his neighbors were on an emotional roller coaster because he chose a balanced response.
He knew, when his horse ran away, that getting upset wouldn’t bring his horse back. It is possible, however, the farmer experienced uncertainty and worry.
He knew, when 3 wild horses returned, the outcome for his family was not immediately certain. But it’s possible the farmer experienced curiosity and gratitude.
Yet he maintained a balanced perspective and, as a result, an inner calm through up and down life experiences.
Perhaps that’s how wise old farmers get so, wise and old?
Cultivating the opposite in the mind is about thoughts and, therefore, perspective.
Here are 3 ways you can use the simple therapeutic yoga practice of cultivating the opposite to shift negative experiences every time:
- When you feel uncertain, shift your awareness to things you’re sure of. For example, it’s likely the farmer felt uncertainty about how he would accomplish his work without his horse, but he probably also knew that he’d overcome many obstacles in his life and doing so requires a focus on solutions rather than lamenting the problem.
- When you feel worried, pay attention to things you’re grateful for. Worry is a strong mental focus on undesirable outcomes. The wise farmer maintains peace of mind by acknowledging the possibility of both negative and favorable outcomes. When his son breaks his leg, the farmer’s balanced perspective may be because he appreciates that it wasn’t a more serious injury.
- When you feel stressed, focus your attitude on supporting yourself. Stress is resistance to what is happening. Your resistance may be necessary and beneficial like in life-threatening emergencies, but often, it stems from some discomfort and fear that’s simply asking for some attention. Cultivating support for yourself may be giving yourself a hug, taking a few deep breaths, or reminding yourself that you’re doing the best you can and that’s enough.
Cultivating the opposite is a simple therapeutic practice that will shift negative experiences to respond with more balance, steadiness, equilibrium, and peace. When you practice choosing a balanced response to events in life, you’re choosing a balanced life. THANK YOU!
NOW YOU TELL ME, HOW CAN YOU USE THE SIMPLE THERAPEUTIC PRACTICE OF CULTIVATING THE OPPOSITE TO MAKE YOUR DAY BETTER TODAY? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW.
HI, I’M STEPHANNIE.
I’m a Certified Yoga Therapist on a mission to make yogic wisdom, movements and breathing practices simple so that you can make them part of your routine and be less stressed, more confident, and experience more cam every single day.
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