The wisdom of Pema Chodron says that chaos and challenge can be our most spiritually powerful times as long as we have the courage to sit in the space of uncertainty long enough to gain a deeper understanding. Our western world encourages us to chase the happier times, to seek and search only for joy and turn away when the road gets tough! This further amplifies the yogic teachings in that we are constantly growing and evolving, that we can welcome these challenges into our lives because we are armoured with the capacity to handle whatever comes. As Mother Theresa said “I know that God will only send me what I can handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much”. These teachings show us that we can adapt to better coping strategies and welcome the challenges that present themselves as an opportunity for us to progress and grow through life.
CREATE THE CHANGE
Through consistent dedication to our practice, Sadhana, we awaken a strong desire to find a healthier way of thinking, being and living in the world that serves the highest purpose of all concerned. So when someone responds by saying these old patterns of behaviour have become a part of who they are, or ‘that’s just who I am’ the answer quite simply is that it doesn’t have to be. Science has confirmed that our brains have the capacity to constantly create new thinking patterns and replacing old ones by not only imprinting new neural pathways within the brain but also disconnecting and ‘unplugging’ from the old negative ones. This is called Neuroplasticity and is the science behind the realisation that there is an intelligence within the brain that has the capacity to change and replace one perception for another, without this plasticity, not only does the brain become more rigid but so do we! The wise teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda taught the concepts of neuroplasticity long before it became known in the scientific world, and it is because of this understanding of the interconnectedness of consciousness, the mind and the brain that affirmed the very fabric of Yoga is in reality a practice of Science.
BECOME THE CHANGE
So how do the ancient texts echo the capacity to generate change? Vitarka-bādhane pratiprakṣa-bhāvanam’ found in chapter 2, verse 33, (PYS 2:33) translates as disturbing or negative thoughts are repelled when we consistently put into practice the questioning of that thought and instantly replacing that with the opposite positive reaction. This Sutra does not refer to the intensity of the more long term challenges that provide the space for spiritual growth but rather to the instantaneous, moment to moment reactions that we have the power to control as they arise. These of course then lead to the patterns of long term, ingrained automatic responses.
So when you’re ready for long lasting change, remember that this is achievable and although it won’t happen overnight, with time and consistency, positive long-term change is possible!