Pratipaksa Bhavana: Navigate Conflicting Views and Build Relationships


his article excerpt covers Yoga Sutra 2.33 and centers around the Sanksrit word: Pratipaksa Bhavana.  Again, what you read below is an introduction to the Yoga Sutras and  a part of our broader series covering the Yoga Sutras for Beginners, which is 15 article excerpts in total. 

Each of the article excerpts within this series will give you a sneak peek into the wonderful work created by Yogi and author, Melissa Lavery, whose complete book, The Yogic Lifestyle: A Foundation for Freedom is available at select distributors throughout the US as well as Amazon’s online bookstore.

All content excerpts are provided with permission by the publisher.

The book itself is organized into 3 parts and further divided into each of the 15 categories below:

The Yogic Lifestyle: A Foundation for Relationships

  1. Shanti: How to Maintain Personal Peace and Power in Relationships
  2. Yama: How to Eliminate Suffering and Cultivate a Better Relationship with the World
  3. Niyama: How to Cultivate a Better Relationship with Yourself and Commit to Personal Self-Care
  4. Pratipaksa Bhavana: How to Navigate Conflicting World-views and Build Relationships with Anyone
  5. Samadhi: How the Inner Journey Toward Self Will Bring You Closer to the Divine Consciousness

The Yogic Lifestyle: A Foundation for Health

  1. Asana: The Health Benefits of a Physical Practice (On and Off the Mat)
  2. Pranayama: How to Maintain Health Through Breath Awareness
  3. Samyama: How to Travel the Meditative Path to Health and Wellness
  4. Nidra: How to Improve Your Sleep Quality to Enhance Health and Wellness
  5. Sauca: How Cleanliness Paves the Path to Holistic Health

The Yogic Lifestyle: A Foundation for Abundance

  1. Klesa: How to Eliminate Ego’s Control and Cultivate an Identity that Attracts Abundance
  2. Satya: How Authenticity Leads to Attracting Abundance
  3. Astreya: How to Practice Non-Stealing to Attract Wealth and Abundance
  4. Aparigraha: How the Practice of Non-Hoarding Can Benefit Your Wallet and Illumniate Your Path
  5. Sadhana: How Consistent Practice Creates a Strong Foundation for an Abundant Life

The Yogic Lifestyle: A Foundation for Freedom

Pratipaksa Bhavana: How to Navigate Conflicting World-views and Build Relationships with Anyone

When disturbed by negative thoughts, opposite [positive] ones should be thought of. This is pratipakṣa bhāvana.

We live in a world of conflicting viewpoints. And with the aid of technology, these opinions are easily shared (and just as easily instigative). Every person has a unique experience that informs his or her opinions, and this individuality should be celebrated. Unfortunately, information sources aren’t concerned about individuality as a way to bless the bounty of this planet—many sources see separation and division as the path toward power, not union.

The intentions of some can easily be the downfall of many. It is in the best interest of certain political leaders and business owners to sway the public to believe in what they are selling. Whether it be legislation, armed conflict, or spending billions of public funds, politicians are increasingly using the media to make people see their “truth.” In the same way, business owners use consumer psychology to sell their products and convince the public that their business is essential for quality living. Although many politicians and business owners mean well, some use dishonesty and divisive rhetoric to further bolster their own power. And it is here that we see the effects of vitarka.

In Śrī Svāmī Saccidānanda’s translation of “The Yoga Sūtras of Patāñjali,” vitarka translates to “negative thoughts” or “arguments”. However, the general Sanskrit translation is “applied attention.” Its application refers to debating, discussing, and discursive processes. In Buddhism, the Vitarka Mudrā is a hand gesture (thumb and forefinger touching, while the other three fingers point up, palm facing outward near the chest) that denotes debating and discussing teachings. During discourse or the presentation of information, the yoga practitioner must practice pramāṇa, which means “correct perception”. We must view the information with a clear lens.

Yoga is the practice of clarifying the heart-mind. It is removing the debris and distractions for clear thinking, which leads to clear Being. To gain the “correct perception”, one must evaluate sources of knowledge thoroughly, using 

  1. Direct perception (pratyakṣa)
  2. Inference (anumāna)
  3. Scriptural testimony (agamah)

It is through these reference points that we can prevent misperception, which can lead to suffering by means of violence, theft, and dishonesty. When we dedicate our heart-mind to the Truth, without distraction, we can protect and heal our most treasured personal relationships, but also cultivate relationships with “the other”.

How Misinformation Creates Conflict

To practice yoga means to clear the heart-mind (and body) of obstructions (kleśas). One of the greatest obstacles to overcome is managing misinformation. The human brain has many jobs, but its largest responsibility is to filter sensory input and then respond accordingly. The sensory organs (skin, nose, eyes, ears, tongue, etc.) receive stimulation by means of touch, temperature, pressure, smell, sight, sound, and taste, and then the associated nerves send messages to the brain about what it is we are experiencing. In an instant, the central nervous system must decide how to use that information to keep the body alive. The nervous system is designed in such a complete way that it can determine whether we need to run away, prepare to fight, or enjoy the ride that is life. But because of our animal instincts, that have been developing for millions of years, we don’t immediately see the pleasure in all circumstances.

Since the human mind is designed to survive, we humans have developed what experts call a Negativity Bias. Because surviving seems to be more important than enjoying life, we typically see the world through a lens that actively seeks out negative experiences. We are always on high alert and this influence can cloud our judgment, making us reactive rather than responsive. Often, this important yet primitive way of assessing the environment can negatively impact how humans view the world and its other inhabitants. 

With the advancements of the 21st Century, the human mind is less concerned with basic human survival and more with constructing meaning, developing bonds with others, and living according to purpose. Today, we use information and critical thinking skills to determine how we live our lives. Every day, we face massive amounts of information from the Internet, books, radio, podcasts, television, advertisements, and literally any input that finds its way to the sensory organs. And with so much material readily accessible, anyone can share the information, adding their perspective, and creating a new “reality.” Many individuals and organizations use this access to share their own vision of reality. Some sincerely want to improve the world, but others have more self-serving motives.

The sources of right knowledge are direct perception, inference, and scriptural testimony.

Not all information is created equally. Each source of information has an intention: selling a product or service, selling an idea to further a goal, selling a political platform for election, etc. Some intentions are noble and meant to improve life, using the principles of Love, Beauty, and Truth. 

… (end of excerpt)

The Yogic Lifestyle: A Foundation for Freedom

Wrapping Up

… to continue reading from this chapter of The Yogic Lifestyle: A Foundation for Freedom please visit and order from the book’s page on Again, we hope you found this valuable and wish you health and happiness along your journey. Namaste.

Caleb Sharbono is a writer, bio-hacker, wellness advocate, and yogi. Caleb, who grew up on a small Montana ranch, joined the Navy at 17 to study cryptology. He later graduated from the US Naval Academy with a Minor in Mandarin, a Bachelor's in General Engineering, and a Major in English Literature. Caleb's interests and career cover diverse industries and disciplines. Caleb lives in San Antonio and is a Certified Yoga Instructor. He is also studying Zen Buddhism, practicing Holistic Psychology, and working towards his 300-hour yoga teacher training.


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