A Moment Of Realization
I had dinner with a group of friends the other night. We had all been working on a goal-setting exercise and were asked to identify frustrations and obstacles to achieving those goals. As we went around the table, listening to what was and was not working for each of us in the process, I began to realize that what was working for me seemed more apparent than what was not working. A thought arose that focusing on the feeling of that realization and directing it toward other areas of life might be beneficial.
When I thought about things that, at some level, I had always believed were shortcomings: ideas about career and relationships for example, you know; the “shoulds” of life – they didn’t seem very important while keeping my attention on the feeling of what has worked well. Not to say that I became especially proud or cocky about my accomplishments: it was more about sitting with a feeling and noticing the effect that it had on my thoughts. When I thought of anger directed at another person, anger that I carried around with me for a long time, it didn’t seem to hold much energy or make me feel sad while in this state of mind: awareness of the feeling of what has gone well. “Maybe this is what gratitude feels like”, I thought.
Sometimes when I get introspective like this and I sense a minor (or major) breakthrough about to happen, I’ll look for parallels in quotes from people who I respect or concepts that I’ve read about in books. Sure enough, and without too much effort, I came across the following translation that seems to relate to what I had just experienced:
“When you are disturbed by negative thoughts or emotions, their opposites should be thought of, this is Pratipaksha Bhavanam” ~ Patanjali, Yoga Sutra, ii, 33
Recognizing that I can’t claim this as my own original thought hasn’t diminished how glad I am to have stumbled across it.