Pratipaksha Bhavana Remix
The Original Practice (with 2 Additional Steps)
I first learned this process from Swami Jyotirmayananda. It’s a powerful mental process that can help anyone transform their mind, behaviors, and habits.
In using it, there were 2 additional “preliminary” steps that made it even more potent. I’ll share those with you in this lesson…
The Pratipaksha Bhavana (remix) Process
1) Identify – First, we must know what it is that you wish to transform. Getting very clear about this makes it easier for us to pick up on the subties of our habit or pattern. This part is about specificity, not vagueness. If you leave too much room, the cleverness of your mind will find a way to express this pattern while tricking you into thinking you transformed it. That’s the major difference between CHANGE and true TRANSFORMATION.
2) Decide – Creating a plan (even just thinking up a simple one in your head) will ensure you don’t fall back into the patterns and habits you’re transforming.
Develop your plan (i.e. what you’re going to do, think, or feel instead) and devote yourself to it.
3) Suppress – This is the first of the 3 S’s of Sublimation (Praktipaksha Bhavana).
Now, if you have a negative association with this word, it might be because we’re not taught the rest of this practice. We, too often, fall into the habit of JUST suppressing. Suppressing our emotions, our thoughts, our feels, but not moving then in another direction.
This is NOT about burying then. This is a gentle suppression. A “pause” is you want to call it that.
Ex. Let’s say you’re in the habit of smoking a cigarrette when you’re around your friends who smoke, but you’ve decided you really want to kick this habit. After making a plan and devoting yourself to it, you find yourself hanging around these friends again.
In that moment, a little ripple of desire races across your body. You want to smoke. But, because of your new plan, you use a little will-power and gently “SUPPRESS” or put a hold on this desire.
This sets the ground-work for the next phase.
4) Substitution – Now, we’re prevented the pattern, the habit from going any further – for a moment at least.
If we did the first 2 steps, this one is easy.
All we’re doing is recalling our plan of action for when we find ourselves in this situation and the decision we promised ourselves we’d make (without compromise!)
Then, we implement it.
Ex. We’ve “paused” the next action that comes when that desire bubbles up… which would ordinarily be to take a cigarette and light up. In that same moment, we remember, “No. I’m smoking anymore, remember… Instead I’m going walk away while they’re smoking and go do something else until they’re finished. Then I’ll rejoin them.”
Could be something as simple as that.
5) Sublimation – This is the final “S” of the 3 S’s of Pratipaksha Bhavana. Similar to meditation… It is NOT something you do. It is something that happens spontaneously the more you practice the first steps (supression and substitution).
Sublimation is the transformation of the habit.
In the same way that you used to almost “automatically” act or think a certain way, you now spontaneously and naturally act and think in the way you decided to with little or no effort at all.
Another Word On “Suppression”
When it comes to changing habits and entering into a process of transformation, suppression alone is the most difficult and often least effective path. It requires an exhausting level of discipline and effort. And with that much effort, what a waste if in the end you “snap back” into your old ways.
The best practice is that of REPLACING. You trade one habit for another.
This works so well for the simple reason that the same energy that we use to execute our negative habits can be used for our new ones. The ones we choose. That energy needs to go somewhere.
If you hold onto it, and only suppress it, it builds up (but not in a good way). Eventually it finds expression, usually in more destructive ways than we want.
So, remember… “Suppression” is only a temporary step. Then we must move on to the next.