The science of yoga was known and practiced (as far back as 40,000 BCE) but not clearly documented until 200 ADE, when a physician-sage named Patanjali systematized and codified the science of yoga into eight limbs. The name given to this text is the Yoga Sutra. Patanjali told us in his Yoga Sutra, that there are two aspects to the process of steadying the mind.
1. Abbyasa or practice: the effort to stay with our object of focus.
2. Vaiagya or detachment. Detachment is a way of disengaging ourselves from the thoughts, feelings and desires that normally hook our attention.
Practice: One of the game changing recognitions for a meditator is the realization that meditation can go on even when there are thoughts in the mind. Much of the meditator’s art lies in knowing how to work with thoughts and ultimately how to let them dissolve.
The mind is essentially nothing more than a thought clogged form of the pure Awareness that is the goal of our practice.
Consciousness + thoughts= mind.
Consciousness – thoughts= God.
In Indian tradition the only place the mind will be satisfied is in the Self, in the deep abode of pure Consciousness. The mind is restless because it is searching for this consciousness.
The basic practice of catching yourself in distraction and bringing your mind back time and time again strengthens your ability to focus not only during meditation but also when driving your car, writing a report, or perfecting your golf swing. Learning to resist distractions makes you more resistant to boredom, worry, and depression; more grounded.
Meditation allows buried feelings, obstructive ideas and painful, emotions to float to the top of our Consciousness where they can be recognized and let go.
Detachment: The key, the sages have told us, to entering our own essence, our innate wholeness is to let go of the feeling of being separate from all others. In meditation we can practice the three levels of detachment.
1. Releasing tension in the body. Scan the body for tension, notice where you feel tight and on the exhale let go of tension.
2. Let go of the layers of desire, even the desire for enlightenment.
3. Let go of your attachment to being the thinker, the one who identifies with the thoughts and desires. Instead, you identify yourself the witness, the watcher of your thoughts. A classic way to do this is to look at thoughts as if they were clouds passing in the sky. The sky isn’t affected by the clouds racing across it, it isn’t changed if the clouds are big and black or if they pour rain. In the same way, your Awareness, the real you-isn’t touched by thoughts. Your Consciousness is completely unaffected by any thing that arises. Once you begin to identify with the sky of Awareness, rather than the clouds of thought a great sense of spaciousness arises.
So you can see why meditation is so important. We not only have the opportunity to learn to focus and to let go, to feel peace and tranquility while we are practicing meditating we are also expanding our capacity to connect with our inner source. That place in us that is Changeless and Eternal. I encourage you to practice meditation every day and to come and practice meditation in community before each yoga class on the second week of each month at Yoga Energy.
I greet the light with in you!
“Thoughtful Meditation” by Sally Kempton. February, 2011 Yoga Journal. Portions of Sally Kempton’s article was used in creating this news letter.