Sutra I.2 – Chapter I, Sutra 2



This sutra describes the meaning of Yoga, and all other sutras explain this one. Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively towards an object and sustain that focus in that direction without distractions.

PRACTICAL LIVING     “yoga” here refers to the philosophy of Yoga, the school of thought that was transmitted for centuries from teacher to student and compiled by Patanjali in this text. It can also refer to a state of mind: one which is filled with clarity, peace, wisdom and joy. The mind (citta), like a young puppy, needs to be trained. The more we train the puppy to pee outside, the more it does that. The more we orient the mind towards thoughts and ideas that are constructive, the more it goes there. “vrtti” refers to the activities of the mind. As most of us know, the mind can jump from one thought to another quite fast. It’s not so much that the chatter is bad, it’s what the chatter is about that makes it bad. What we choose to focus on becomes our life therefore we should make sure it’s something that we value and brings us joy. “nirodhah” is like being a maestro of a big symphony – there are many musicians with different instruments – the maestro is in charge of directing them all towards a beautiful place. Many of us spend hours focusing on objects (thoughts, emotions, people, situations, belief systems) that bring us anger, resentment, frustration and stress. In summary: choose – focus – sustain. What causes us not to sustain?

  • FEAR: of failure, success, loneliness, abandonment, not being loved?
  • DISTRACTION: the senses are powerful!
  • LACK OF COMMITMENT: back to Sutra I.1 – nowadays, we have so many (or too many) choices!

IN THE YOGA WORLD     We can explore this topic from another angle as well. “yoga” could also refer back to the clear state of mind one gets when they realize that there is something beyond the body, thoughts and emotions: our inner light, soul, spirit…or whatever your favorite word/concept is. In order for this to happen, a clear mind is necessary, which implies that it is not easily distracted. By “citta”, Patanjali referred to different aspects of the mind: the manas (composed of the senses, which are constantly gathering information and partying consistently in the brain); the ahamkara (the ego, the part of us that relates everything to “I”), and the buddhi (the intellect, which digests sensory information and formulates ideas). In order to move towards a peaceful state of yoga, we need to train all levels of the citta. “nirodha” refers to that training, from an agitated and energy-inefficient state, to a peaceful and detached one. Yes, in order to focus, we are required to let go of some things (more on detachment in a few sutras). As we let go, the mind becomes clearer and lighter…ahhhhhh…

choose – focus – sustain

INSPIRATIONAL PERSON     I met this man twice in my life. Not only has he inspired me to finally begin this blog, but he also added a whole new level to it: the humanistic part of it. He reminded me that relationships are one of the most important things in life to keep the mind happy, in peace, and feel loved. His recent project, ( involved spending 365 days of gifting: every day he would give something to someone and later paint about it. AND, at the end, he built a gallery at an art festival in the desert and gifted all of his amazing paintings to the lucky people who found him! A smile covers my face as I write about this person. Joshy is a living, walking and painting example of this sutra. Thank you for choosing to focus on something that was so meaningful both to you and, at least another 365 people!

Are you creating a delicious life by focusing on what you want? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!

Thanks and we will look at what a state of yoga leads to next week!

114 thoughts on “Sutra I.2 – Chapter I, Sutra 2

  1. Pingback: (Check this blog out) Sutra I.2 – Chapter I, Sutra 2 | The Gift Prolific

  2. I am honored to be a part of your project. Thank you.

    Letting go and focusing on a direction is really tough. In my experience with my project the Gift Prolific….There were SO many night that I would have rather played my ukulele, gone to the movies, or just hung out and vegged on the couch watching baseball! But before I started the project I focused my energy and thoughts on it and promised myself that I would see it through to the end. I felt that my idea (the whole project) and my own life deserved that much respect. Once I got very clear on that it was easier to stay on task. I did take days off. But overall it is exactly what I wanted it to be. And it still pays me back daily. Thank you for starting your weekly sutra study. I think it is really something very special. Take care. love….josh.

  3. Josh, the concept of focusing, yet relaxing is one of the definitions of meditation: the ability to be attentive to something, and at the same time be able to detach from it. It sounds like your project was a beautiful balance of that 🙂 Thank you for being part of this!

  4. This is such a Special reminder of how “Great” people really are. I am not an Artist, because I work at a daily Job that consumes all my time, but I see it and feel it in all the “Energy” you Artist put forward, in the work, and the special benefits that come from it making a very balanced life style. As I get older now, and look back, I can not say I would change a thing, there was always so much love, but being an old Hippie, I’m thriving for that energy the “Artist” puts forward, It is almost like a very good drug, the feel good, high octane, peace of mind and I find I want more. It does not matter what Art you do, it is how you do it, and your feelings for it that makes it art. I will be quitting the job this year so I can really see and feel what is going on around me, and I can not wait, it will be so beautiful……..
    I thought this year was going to be my best year ever, and it has been except for the loss of my Mother, I still feel her presence and love her with all my Heart, but I am suppose to get through this and on with the very special things out there in the world for me, i will, very soon and I am so excited to meet all of the Artist in the world and thrive off of the energy they put out there. Choose, Focus and Sustain……3 great word that mean so much. Thank You All for being who you are!
    I am so Proud of you Josh and All that you do! You are a very Special Gift and always have been!!!
    Josh’s Mom

    • Barb, thank you for your beautiful words. I love what you said about “it doesn’t matter what art you do, it is how you do it”. Our state of mind is what matters. Our attitude towards life determines the quality of our lives. Enjoy this new phase of your life!

  5. This Sutra is beautiful and speaks so much truth to the power of Yoga. Choose-Focus-Sustain. The mind is a powerful force that can lead us to clarity or great doubt and confusion. The belief that we can actually choose our thoughts and what to focus on! Why is it so hard to do?? It seems to be our (or at least my) nature to focus on thoughts that cause negative feelings-my go-to’s are stress and anxiety. So we can actually change this and experience freedom, clarity, and peace??? A truth I am still wrapping my head around in my yoga journey. Definitely easier said then done. Thankfully we have the gift of yoga and meditation to get us to this beautiful place of peace and clarity. As I begin to incorporate daily meditation into my life, this truth is beginning to live within me. Simply beautiful. Love this blog-thanks for sharing Lucia!!!!

    • Jess, you touched on so many important concepts: doubt, confusion – they are all obstacles to a sattvic mind. And yes, Yoga says we all have the potential to clarity and peace. And yes, it takes continuous work. Samskaras (patterns/habits) are what we need to be aware of, and gradually replace old thoughts with new and more constructive ones. This is why it is so important to choose a positive object to focus on. As we catch ourselves focusing on destructive thoughts, we have the opportunity to change. This is the Yoga journey 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. I feel like I have many stories that I could relate this to – but one recent has to do with my daughter (accident prone). My husband and I have started telling her to focus and she will even if it is just the few steps up to the house. But if she stays focused we have fewer boo boo’s.

  7. Funnily enough this was the sutra that encouraged me to remove all apps from my phone. I found myself to be wee bit hypocritical when I used to say ‘I practice yoga’ and the next thing I know, I am looking at my phone and checking what’s the latest in my FB wall whilst I’m ‘supposedly spending time with my kids’! So out went the apps, in came all the paints and crafts 😉 Today’s technology driven world takes us so away from this definition of Yoga.

    Also, I think the word ‘Multi tasking’ is a an over rated concept! I have realised through this Sutra that ‘Multi tasking’ is bad bad bad!

    • Vidhi, I love the connection to your app world! Like with anything in life, finding the balance in the use of technology is crucial. The 5th limb of the 8 limbs in chapter 2 comes to mind: pratyahara – use the senses, don’t abuse them 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  8. This weekly sutra relates to what yoga is about. I think yoga is about focusing on an object, thought, person, or idea and while doing so, your mind will calm down. I know personally, after a busy day at work , its very hard to quiet my mind when I step onto my mat. Its a huge challenge for me to focus on one thought or object and quiet the chatter of negative thoughts from the day. I know many people feel this way and its hard to let go out negative thoughts. I am making it a priority (along with breathing) to focus on an object to help me with think positively rather than negatively.

    • Hi satvicsutra, your comment reminds me of a sutra we will talk about in a few weeks…the concept that we need “abhyasa”, continuous practice…the more we practice, the easier it gets to focus on one object…just like learning how to ride a bicycle – it was hard at first and then gradually became easier and easier.

  9. I find that some of the most profound moments I have are those were I am completely giving. Giving with no expectations of return. Paying it forward.. So to speak… Every week for the past two years i do something positive and unaccepted for someone. be it a full fare cta card, buying someones am coffee, paying for groceries
    Good mindful practice

  10. Its so easy to fall back into negative patterns/ways of thinking when we are not focused on the bigger picture..and Im slowly started to realize that all good things, are a little work, and maintaing focus on the bigger picture. This is something I hope to master over time. I feel, before there was little to no acceptance from myself when it came to that thought process but now with this acceptance is also coming a sense of calm that as long as I stay focused, Im on the right path.

    • Christina, yes, everything in Yoga takes work. The concept of “abhyasa”, which we will explore in a few weeks, tells us that this journey requires continuous effort. Not just one day per week…but all the time. The good thing is that the more we do it, the easier it gets 🙂

  11. I feel that lack of commitment and distraction are easier to overcome than fear. Fear is so all-encompassing and can completely change the tone of anything that one sets his or her mind to accomplish or explore. The senses tell us “this is real”, the ego tells us “this is mine”, and the intellect tells us “this is true.” Together we abandon an a priori, primordial plunge into direct experience and label and categorize and divvy up our experiences based on attachments (ego, senses, information) and avoidance of confrontation into the unknown and inexpressible.

    As I focus more and more on what I really want, my life becomes more and more fulfilling and my relationships with others flourish.

    • Hi Lynda, yes, fear is the most profound of the kleshas (sources of suffering). Yoga tells us to look at it, face it and then change something in order to transform life to a less fearful and more fulfilling experience. I am happy to hear that life is flourishing 🙂

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  13. I find it especially difficult to train the mind sometimes. I speak with the perspective of my job, that I am completely unhappy with. Every morning I wake up, “ugh…do I HAVE to go today?” Then I get to work and after using a few choice words I think, “I wanna go home”. So, with this sort of mind set that I have had for so long, to just change that to think of all the positive, “constructive” thoughts and ideas is a difficult thing. I need to start training myself to think, “wow, this drug may someday save someone’s life”. I hate to think of it from the perspective of getting a paycheck, but hey, job security is a good thing to have, right?

    From the point of view of doing something I love, it is so much easier to focus on the now and sustain that focus. When I’m playing volleyball, there is no way I’m going to get distracted or unfocused with what I’m doing. When I’m practicing yoga (in a class setting) it could go either way. Mostly I’m able to keep focused on myself and what my body is doing for that day, but every now and then the ego kicks it just because I’m naturally a competitive person. All of these aspects just need to be trained (sounds easy right?).

    • Hi Daniel, thanks for sharing your experiences! Yes, focusing on some areas of life comes easier. These tend to be the activities that are meaningful and bring pleasure to our life. Those that are lacking either meaning or pleasure (or both) need some refinement or need to be replaced. But it is true that we have some very well established samskaras (patterns). One that many people have, for example, is that “work is a chore” as opposed to “work is a delicious part of my life”. Like a puppy that needs to be trained over and over again, so the mind needs to be trained to see things differently over and over again…

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  20. Ideally, this sutra would be the easiest to apply and one that we should look forward to. I interpret it do be a release or a freedom from the many distractions that keep us from being fully present in our daily lives (including our yoga practice). However, after years and year of allowing the “chatter” to build up, this sutra becomes one that takes quite a bit of effort on my part. I look forward to a time when it is easier for my mind to relax in a state of nirodha and not have to focus so much on the task.

    • Hi Evan, less chatter would definitely feel good. Yoga tells us to commit to our practices and the results will come with time. But change takes time because we need to undo what we’ve been doing for years. Sending you warm wishes for your new “home”.

  21. I recently choose to commit to bonding my two bunnies. It’s the 3rd time and every time we’ve got very close to success a mistake blown the whole project out and they started fighting again. To the point that a number of friends do not believe this is possible anymore.
    We simply don’t want to give up, we feel we haven’t explored all the possibilities. We have kept them separated for months, and I now realize that this was already part of this commitment: we’ve carefully favored conditions for them to bond again at a later time. It required (and still requires) time and energy to allow them free individual time, more complicated organization when we are on vacation and hay all over our bathroom. Now we are trying again: so every night we walk in the building hallway carry them in their carrier, then place them in the bathtub for strictly 30 minutes (we realized this is necessary to make it sustainable), be alert so that they don’t hurt each other, and well pet them to create a positive atmosphere. I am improving my ability to sit still for prolonged time too. ; )
    It implies letting go of the results: they might ignore each other (ok sign), they might eat next to each other (good sign), they might fight (very bad sign), they might simply try to jump outside the bathtub (ok sign), they might look very scared after the walking (heartbreaking), they might groom each other (very good sign). All of this in random order until it will hopefully become consistently positive at some point in the future.

    It is clear to me that the ability of sustaining a goal is closely related to the ability of choosing, which somewhat requires a clear mind. Isn’t this the tricky part?

    • Laura, I love the example you gave since it sounds like it has taken a huge long-term commitment that has required you to make changes to your life (sitting quietly daily and hay in the bathroom). You are absolutely right, choosing an appropriate methodology requires clarity. That is where a teacher comes in – someone who has more experience than you. Texts can also act as a teacher (or google) 🙂

  22. It’s taken me two weeks on focusing and reading and chanting this sutra to really begin to understand how to “train” my mind and I’m still only scratching the surface. Pantajali said in his description of this sutra in the Heart of Yoga that this can be practiced on either through something external or to ourselves. I find that choosing external objects to focus on sustaining comes pretty naturally to me – whether when it’s looking for a job, doing well at my job, focusing on my physical yoga practice, etc. However, when it comes focusing my mind on something that’s internal I really struggle. So, after initially reading this sutra, I decided not to go the easy route by picking something tangible, but by turning inward.

    During this time of contemplation, I found a text that really spoke to the struggle I have internally. It said “the mind is like customs officer: anything that is imported and exported between the soul and the (pure consciousness and the material world) passes through it. The divine within us constantly sends its gifts of love, knowledge and happiness, and we also offer our love to the divine. But if the customs officer is corrupt (which my has a tendency to be), this exchange is disrupted and all communication and exchange of gifts is obstructed. The goal of yoga is to train the mind, to remove its corrupting tendencies and calm the vrttis – the mind’s roving, revolving tendency (sometimes my brain never seems to want to shut off).” The article goes on to say that meditation and contemplation are powerful ways of helping the mind become calm and focused.

    Now, I wish I could say that i’ve been super awesome at meditating/contemplating every single day since reading this, but that’s not the case. However, I have definitely began the process of meditation and/or contemplation when I begin to feel that “corrupt customs officer” coming through. And by just taking a few minutes to take some deep breathes or meditate on letting those feelings go, I have been able to sustain a little more inner peace. It’s not always easy, but it sure does feel better when I actually do it!

  23. I don’t like the unexciting.
    I don’t like those I can’t take pleasure out of, either.
    However crucial they may be for me or for the others,
    I do not ever want to start, or continue a journey for them.

    I like the chase after the exciting, I want to satisfy my desires.
    When the chase is over, or even more regrettable, during the chase.
    I continuously hear the dissatisfaction of myself and the others.
    For ignoring the necessities, for being weak or lazy.
    My happiness diminishes.
    I realize, with all my self-inflicted pain, and confusion, I was never there.
    I was never calm.

    Another round begins.
    Until I break the cycle it just goes on and on.

    • Having awareness of the cycle is a HUGE step, perhaps the most important one. Remember you are not alone: the cycle of rajas (fire) and tamas (rock) is a part of all os us. Slowly we move closer and closer towards satva (balance/clarity).

  24. Choosing, focusing, and sustaining are tricky things to do when it comes to the human mind, but ohhhh so important! In your blog, you mentioned fear, distraction, and lack of commitment being in direct conflict with this sutra. For me, I find that I sometimes allow the negative things to overwhelm my mind, bringing me to a state of anxiety, leading to some depression or tamasic state. This fear or anxiety, then directly leads to the distraction of being in a state of tamas, which prohibits me from committing to anything because I’m too bummed out! All of these contraindications to this sutra are very much interconnected, which is important to know in overcoming them. There are a lot of things in my life lately that I desperately want to see positive change in from personal habits, to my living situation. I am slowly beginning to realize that now when the negatives come to mind, I must “train the puppy”, by redirecting my mind and focusing rather on what I can do “Okay, this is something not-so-great, what steps can I take to improve the situation?” When I’ve figured out what I can do to help myself, I have to really be consistent with those steps, remembering not to abandon them in lieu of other things like watching tv, or hanging out with friends. I need to sustain myself before I can do these other things. Then, hopefully, I can find a beautiful balance between choosing, focusing, and sustaining, and still having fun!

    • The concept of finding balance is in itself the path of yoga. And this is always changing…Changing our tamasic habits is hard because we have been doing the, for so long and they often are great ways to avoid what we fear…but it can happen, gradually one day at a time.

  25. I have chosen to revisit the blog and make some of my entries public. My apologies, some are long and very personal, but hey that’s what this blog is about, right? Please, please leave a comment or email me personally ( if you have any advice, questions, or just want to chat about it 🙂 Much love, C

    Choose – focus – sustain. This sutra brings me back to my response for the first sutra and the life change that I CHOSE to make by washing (or rather scrubbing) my hands clean of my toxic lifestyle. I was in a long-term abusive relationship that fueled and supported my incessant drug and alcohol use. I took pills to wake up, I had to drink alcohol to calm me down from the stimulants, and take sleeping pills to sleep my regular 3-4 hours per night. I was a life-less fiend on a never-ending spiral. The pills allowed me to sleep so little that my dreams would often get mixed up with my reality. My weight fluctuated significantly and I was very mal-nourished. I would eat twice a day or one giant meal a day, and the meal would usually be the same thing every day for a week at a time (the speed often deterred me from “thinking outside the box” because I was always on auto-pilot, sometimes I would do things without realizing I was doing them). I could drink a whole bottle of wine in one night and then rise at 8am for class and feel “fine” because of my tolerance and speed. The drugs allowed me to go through my day like a “normal” person, but it was fake, I often would be confused as to what I really believed in (the drugged up me vs. the sober me had different opinions and values). After miraculously finding the courage to end my relationship with my boyfriend, and after the tumultuous break-up that followed, somehow, a little light was finally shown to me, suggesting that what I was doing, was slowly killing me. I believe this tiny moment of a bit self-assessment came from being able to release myself from the person (myself and my boyfriend) that was encouraging me to live like I was. Instead of spending all of my energy on him and our insanity as a dysfunctional couple, I was finally alone with my thoughts and my actions, and this pain and discomfort that had built up over almost 7 years (high school through college) came screaming all the way to the surface. I was ashamed, depressed, and disgusted with what I had turned myself into. I had two choices; to continue my lifestyle of gluttony, self-absorption, and superficiality or make and take the steps to be a sober, genuine, and respectable human that I so deeply admired and desired. Fearful of failure but eager to change, I chose the latter. The focus it took to completely rid myself of my relationship to my boyfriend and my addiction to cigarettes, drugs, prescription pills, and heavy alcohol abuse, has taken over two years and is still challenging on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes I think about those days and how effort-less everything was because I was so many different substances, but the anxiety and depression that resulted from it is just not worth it to take any steps backwards. With tremendous effort, therapy, art, and yoga, my addictions started to fade. Of course, it wasn’t that easy and the first couple of months were a rollercoaster of taking steps forward and backwards. The ties with my ex weren’t the only relationships I had to break, many friendships I had to walk away from because they were toxic, too. Finally, I slowly started to find myself feeling BETTER when I was sober and clear-headed. I started noticing that I felt emotions I hadn’t felt in – I couldn’t remember how long, like genuine laughter and being tired from activity rather than a pill. I started noticing my body would feel better in the morning if I was clean the day before. I started noticing my yoga practice was different because I had authentic focus. It was still difficult to not use a pill to be productive, but I was feeling great and determined. Today, I am still choosing to stay focused and am free from the substances that clouded my true self.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your journey – I wish you the very best in your journey and offer love and support!

    • You are an inspiration Christine! Thank you so much for sharing! Your commitment to change and the actions you have taken are admirable! Sending you lots of love chica 🙂 We still have one skype session right?

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  27. Choose-Focus-Sustain: so powerful. I think very fast and about many things at once; it’s like my mind is incessantly multitasking, so distraction is more of an issue for me than fear. Since starting TT, I’ve challenged myself to conscientiously focus on one thing at a time and it has worked wonders. I choose a task or thought, focus on it, and sustain it to completion, without jumping from one thing to the next. At work, I set aside 5 minutes to conscientiously map out my day, which has made me more productive because I have set my sights on a focused list of tasks. Even in seemingly simple tasks such as phone conversations with friends and family, I’ve found that through focusing on what people are saying (and HOW they’re saying) it, I’m making better connections because I really absorb the communication and meaning, not just “uh huh, yeah, that’s good”-ing my way through interactions. In yoga, just the act of choosing to focus on my breath and sustain it throughout the entire class has resulted in the most fulfilling yoga I’ve experienced in a long while (maybe ever!?).

    • It’s amazing how the commitment to dedicate ourselves to one thing at a time can change our experience of that situation! It is life changing, simple, yet requires continuous effort and attention…

    • Alaina, I love how you mention that your relationships have changed because of this. We can connect on a deeper and more fulfilling level when we do so. And I agree, the breath is magical 🙂

  28. Pingback: Yoga is like an octopus . . . | THE YOGA FILES

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  30. I find your question at the end of this sutra most impactful – “Are you creating a life of joy by focusing on what you want?” Too often our lives are filled with things people dont necessarily always want for themselves – a horrible job, bad relationships, doing things they dont want to do, etc. When you get home from work or school or whatever you are doing that day, you have to ask yourself, did I do something for myself today that I wanted to do? If that answer is no, I think there are definitely adjustments that need to be made. I have found that if I do 1 thing for myself every day, I am a much happier person. Even if it is something as simple as going for a walk and clearing my mind. It comes back to focus and commitment, which does take some time to train your mind to do. It’s so funny that you bring up fear as being one of the things that causes us not to sustain. Before I started the yoga teacher training I was scared. Scared that I wasn’t good enough at the postures and therefore wouldn’t be a good teacher. After talking to Lucia, she made it clear that yoga is not all about being the best at yoga poses. Once I got over my fear of not being the “best”, I chose to the the teacher training, focused on what I needed to do, and now sustaining the practice. Choose – Focus – Sustain. Thanks for your guidance and support Lucia!

  31. This summer, a friend of mine was in a psychology class and one day asked me, “Did you know there is no such thing as multi-tasking?” His psychology professor had explained to the class that when people “multi-task” they are not really doing multiple things at once, but, rather, rapidly switching back and forth between tasks. Some people just happen to be much faster than others at the transition from one task to the next.

    I suppose I had always known this- it was clear to me as a kid that my homework was always done better and quicker when I didn’t do it in front of the TV- but have always had difficulty acting on it. As a “yes” person, I am naturally resistant to not doing what others ask me to do, which ultimately creates stress for myself by adding to a list of things whose presence gives me the need to multi-task. This sutra says to me that the act of saying “no” is not necessarily a bad or mean or wrong thing- in the end, it can be very helpful. This sutra seems to say that less is more- that by focusing more on less we can begin to tap into purusa. I am daily trying to live more simply, to embrace what I do as a do it. This seems to require a lot more saying “no” to the list and the future in which I’ll attempt to complete it and at lot more wholly saying “yes” to the now.

  32. Training my mind is something that I am constantly working on. I come from a long line of anxious indivduals. A large portion of my family are very obvious “worriers.” As a kid, I was afraid of basically everything, worried about the far off future, etc. In my adulthood, I still feel my history of anxiety creeping up every once and a while. I initially loved practicing yoga daily because it was a constant reminder to keep my thoughts in check for an hour every day. I am becoming much more aware when I feel myself panicking about my future, something out of my control, and I try to bring it back to the aspects of it that I do have control over and eventually let the thought go. It is terribly hard, but each time is a new challenge and I find it very rewarding when I am able to focus on productive and positive thoughts.

    • Jana, our habits that are rooted in generations are hard, but not impossible to change. We need to want that change and it sounds like you do and are therefore seeing changes in your own life: beautiful!

  33. At the end of a busy, hard day at work it is difficult for me to turn off the negative “chatter” in my mind and focus on listening and spending time with others. I started to realize I wouldn’t remember full conversations I had right at the end of my day because I was so tuned out and still worrying about work. Going to yoga on my way home helps me turn all that off, let go and return home ready to be an active participant in conversations. I am still working on my “selective hearing” – it can be embarrassing and hurt my relationships so I commit myself to this sutra everyday.

  34. For a while I wanted to learn to teach yoga, so that I can understand it more deeply. I waited a while to look into a Yoga training program, because I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to make time for it and commit to it. Therefore, I avoided and just continued with my routines. I was also in a job that for a few years I knew it wasn’t for me anymore because sitting for long periods with a bad back and runner’s knee made my pain worse. So, knowing this job wasn’t for me anymore and hurting me physically seemed to make me resent my job and I created more negative feelings within myself more and more every day I would go to work. It was painful mentally and physically and used to tell myself “I don’t want to do this any more”, but I didn’t do anything about it. I think I was afraid to let go of my salary and change from what I was comfortable with and been doing for many years and I didn’t replace it with something that made me happier.
    A few months before resigning from my last job, I “chose” to make a few lifestyle changes and started to “focus” on searching for something different to make a living that felt more rewarding, that would give me a break from the office chair and not having pending projects in my mind when I wasn’t at work, as well as at the same time finding a Yoga Training program.
    Changes can seem scary, but I knew inside that it was going to serve me positively and things were only going to get better. Once I focused on those happy goals that I wanted in my life, my job didn’t seem that bad the last couple months as I had something positive to look forward to and focused on it. I was able to leave on a more positive feeling. It was so much easier to let go of it and making these life changes didn’t seem that scary anymore.
    Now that I’m going through Yoga Training I work on “sustaining” that momentum since it’s “me time” on this path. I used to let distractions get in the way. I have many groups of friends and was a social butterfly on the weekends. Hanging out with friends when they wanted to do something always seemed to take priority because I was a pleaser didn’t know how to say no. I think I was avoiding my life at the time, so it was easier to be distracted with other things. Relationships are important, but it doesn’t mean that personal goals have to wait because we feel the need to please others first. Realizing that I am not just here to please and that this yoga path is helping me inside/out, makes it so much easier to not always “yes” to every option or distraction that comes my way.

  35. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?


  36. Growing up I always thought I would be a lawyer. I would go through school, I would do well and have a healthy clean life. Yet as life is such, things went a complete 360 for me. With my parents divorce not only being stressful but also being an ordeal that may have altered or even warped my mind state forever. All notions of the choices I wanted to make went out the window along with my childhood. Now I have no resentment for what happened, if it didn’t I may not even be writing on the weekly sutra pages. I am escaping from my point though. Through the years I became enthralled with stage performance(Improv/Acting/Stand-up) the whole 9 yards. For a few years after doing it I detached from it trying to find other outlets to make some sense out of what I want. Coming back to it only within the last year I was drawn to the memories I had from having people I knew having so much joy when they were watching me on stage. Laughing and smiling. I knew for sure that this was a life I could enjoy. I always had a knack for cheering up others with laughter. So for being back into it for a year I have a determination for myself to work harder on my craft. Most people just wanna do this for fun. I wanna do comedy for a life style. I love seeing how I can make others laugh and smile and be cheerful. Maybe after a long week or just needing a good laugh. It sounds simple and I wouldn’t want. Now how does this relate to yoga? Well I have been trying to find ways that I can bring my humor and cheerfulness into yoga. So many people myself included try to push themselves too hard in yoga with forcing a pose they aren’t ready for or pushing for a pose they are too tired for. I want to bring this kind of joy to people I can teach even if it is smiling. Bringing two passions of mine into one room I think could give people a way to just relax more in yoga letting go of tight faces and taking light paces.

  37. Choose, focus, sustain… There is mantra there, just beneath the surface. I think we all have a hard time choosing, focusing and sustaining. When I lived in NYC, I loved th sense of endless adventure, always looking for something new, always changing, never in one same place, never with the same people, just constant change. Change is good, but change is also inevitable. Change is part of life, change is part of why we suffer. I actively chose to follow the words of the Buddha and walk the middle path, a task at times seems almost impossible in most urban settings. I have directed my focus to my personal yoga practice and I sustain this practice by thinking back on kriya yoga- action, reflection and surrender. I act by working on my personal practice, this is a choice, I focus on it dedicate time and energy to experiencing triumphs in my both my physical and subtle body, I reflect on this changes, the triumphs and the short comings, and I sustain by always surrendering my practice to the universe. If I didnt feel like my personal practice was an offering I probably would have stopped or not dedicate as much time to it.

    I love this sutra, it can be applied To nearly everything. There are countless aspects and parts of my life that would benefit my mind if I chose, focused and sustained one thing at a time.

  38. Pingback: Sutra I.41 – Chapter I, Sutra 41 | weeklysutra

  39. The aspect of this Sutra that resounded most with me was the fact that the mind, just as a puppy, needs to be trained. I think of all the bad habits, negative affirmations, and fears that I have acquired over the years, without even realizing that I was the one training my mind to react this way! I love that yoga provides a way for us to start retraining the mind, and stresses that “the chatter” we all experience needs a positive focus. I hope through my own personal yoga practice, to calm this “chatter,” and am currently taking the first step to redirect this chatter. Instead of letting it take over my thoughts and reinforce feelings of fear, regret, and failure, I am trying to focus my thoughts more on the good I see everyday, positive experiences, and the wonderful relationships that I am lucky enough to have. It has been a very tough realization that in order to focus, I need to let go of some things, but I have also experienced a sense of relief when letting go of things that aren’t serving me.

  40. I believe this sutra reveals the key to Yoga and the key to success in any endeavor – Sustained focus. Which is much harder than it may sound. I remember when I was first learning meditation they told us “the average attention span of a beginning meditator is 2 seconds”, at first this sounds a little hard to believe and many people may attempt to disagree and say “I can concentrate on something longer than 2 seconds!”, but anyone who goes actually takes the time to sit and observe their thoughts, coming from a busy day at work/school to sitting on a meditation cushion, can tell you that our thoughts (chitta & vrtti) seem almost ceaseless. It’s not that we can’t read a book for more than 2 seconds without putting it down to do something else (which might be the case for some), but a lot of the time our chitta & vrtti are so wild that they’re bringing up different thoughts and emotions every other second. These thoughts and emotions are very distracting though out our daily lives and impact the tasks we have in front of us, this is why I think this sutra is such a beautiful and strong reminder. It tells us about ourselves, our minds, and this collective struggle we all meet as humans, and then it tells us how to overcome our distractions. If we can direct our focus to one chosen object/task and sustain that focus for extended periods we will be much more capable of succeeding in our endeavors because we perceive and act more clearly and mindfully. This sutra also brings to mind a quote I’ve read before, “Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world”.

  41. Thankfully throughout life I have usually had luck with shutting the “chatter” of my mind off. Don’t get me wrong I have my fears and worries, all that good stuff but for the most part I am able to realize how I feel and do something about it. Physical activity has always been used as an escape from my mind. Give me a pool and I could swim for hours just to keep my mind quiet. When it comes to focusing on one object/task I tend to fail. I like to stay busy so I am constantly finding a new passion or adventure I want to take on. Like it says the mind has to be trained and I feel like I need to train mine to stick with my passions I have now and like the previous sutra says, commit. I think if i can obtain this focus I can succeed in what I want to do with my passions, instead of just continuing to find new ones.

  42. Pingback: Sutra I.46 – Chapter I, Sutra 46 | weeklysutra

  43. When I first learned to meditate, I was told that whenever the mind started to wander, to “bring it back.” That is something I need to keep reminding myself to do in other aspects of life as well. I once read that the human mind naturally will think or assume the worst about a situation. We are essentially hard-wired for this negativity, and I find myself going through the day thinking these types of thoughts. One little thing doesn’t go my way and suddenly I am overcome by thoughts of how bad my life is, totally blowing things out of proportion. I also find that I assume the worst about people and their motivations without having all the information about a situation. So I need to keep reminding myself to “bring it back” and focus the mind away from negativity. One way I do this is reminding myself that there are millions of people in the world who would trade places with me right now, even with all my problems and issues. I am free, educated, healthy, have a family, can read, can vote, can walk, am safe, have access to clean food and water, and that is more than many, many people can say. This perspective mixed with gratitude is what helps bring my mind back from negativity.

  44. “to choose, to focus, to sustain that focus” It seems so simple, and yet many times it is one of the most difficult things to do. I marvel at the minds ability to gather and process information that creates the “chatter.” I also marvel with how it seems that yoga has the ability to aid in directing the “chatter” to a more peaceful state of mind.

  45. The nature of many of the activities I choose to do (both for work and for enjoyment) is that of many small projects that are unrelated to one another. What’s interesting about all of them, though, is that they all require me, if I am to participate in these activities in a meaningful way, they require me to do exactly as this sutra suggests – to choose my object of focus, and to be entirely present and sustaining in that focus.

    Whether I am working with computers and programming, creating art, or practicing yoga, I must be able to shift my attention fully from one to the other. For me, part of deepening my yoga practice is deepening this ability to let go of another discipline while I am in the path of another, and to let go of the anxiety and chatter that occurs when one tries to butt in on the other.

    I also recently mentioned to someone how happy I am that the sustained focus of yoga is completely in line with the way my brain needs to be structured for my art practice – and how I feel one builds on the other in such a strong way that I have not been able to find whilst trying to balance my art practice with other ways of processing information and being out in the world.

  46. “The maestro is in charge of directing them all towards a beautiful place. Many of us spend hours focusing on objects (thoughts, emotions, people, situations, belief systems) that bring us anger, resentment, frustration and stress. In summary: choose – focus – sustain. What causes us not to sustain?”

    This Sentence really hit home for me. As someone who has ADHD I have a really hard time focusing my mind on just one thing…Unless it is something I am terrified of. I have no clue why, but I have a deep seeded fear of Zombies and Clowns. Just typing these words is bring horrifying visions in my head. I go throughout my day sometimes in a panic because I will picture the zombie apocalypse happening around me. One time I was sitting getting my nails done by a large Russian woman, and as she is silently working on my fingers, I was picturing what she would look like as a zombie. I could see the bloody gash on her head, the ratted hair, I could smell the rotting flesh, and picture what her gate would look like as she came after me. would she have a limp? I have to stop there because I could go on and on. This is just one example. This happens to me all the time. Sleeping is even worse. What my mind comes up with in a nightmare is out of this world. And when I wake up in a cold sweaty panic; the visions stick with me all throughout the rest of the night and into the next day. Its the same thing with clowns. Although its always the same clown. And for some reason every time I am in the shower I picture him just on the other side of the curtain. Every time. I pull back the curtain at least 3 times just to check if he is there. Mostly I keep the curtain half way open. One Dream I had was him watching me sleep, just standing there at the side of my bed. I was in college at the time and my roommate was staying at her boyfriends. I woke up from that one a screaming, crying mess. I had to go sit with the security guard at the front desk of our building for the rest of the night. My mind has a great way of focusing on everything I don’t want it to. Unless I am in a yoga class. my saving grace.

    “The maestro is in charge of directing them all towards a beautiful place.”

    I need to become the Maestro in my life. I need to train my mind to focus on something much much more beautiful.


    • Beautiful examples Mary. The more we talk about our fears (instead of hiding them), the less “monster-like” they become. Having said that, training your mind to visualize wonderful things is also necessary. Remember that re-training our minds takes time…one day at a time 🙂

  47. Choose. Focus, Sustain. This is a very difficult task for the strong Vata within me. I have managed to carry with me through life the curiosity of a child- a true blessing and a curse. My interests and hobbies at times in my life have been intense, yet fleeting. With knowledge a mile wide, yet an inch deep, and hobbies scattering from crochet to rock climbing. But I have always been grounded with a sincere focus on my loved ones and my career, and I know that these two very big parts of my life require continuous growth and focus in order to be sustainable.

    At this point in time a large portion of my focus has been on learning what yoga means to me and continuing to explore what yoga teaches me about myself. This has been easier in a 10 week classroom setting, with the continued guidance of my teachers. Yet, I know I must sustain my commitment, I still have so much to learn!

    • Meg, your commitment to your loved ones and career is a great ‘accomplishment’ already. Today’s society pushes us to do a million things at this very moment. In Yoga, it’s more about the quality of each moment as opposed to the quantity of things we do. It sounds like you’re practicing Yoga already 🙂

  48. I’ve been sitting on this sutra a while… Balancing several jobs, duties, etc has seemed less hectic over the past couple weeks. Once I can choose and focus, my productivity seems to greatly increase! I’ve also witnessed some “re-wiring” that we talk about so frequently. For example: I come home at night, and I see a distressed roommate who’s needing to talk and unload. I’ve always been the friend to jump in and listen… In the past, I may have been texting/emailing/etc while listening to a friend’s story, but recently, I couldn’t imagine having my focus in a dozen different places. For instances like this, I feel like choosing and focusing is the only way to be a receptive and responsive interlocutor…. So yay for me, A+ in Yoga right? No. I’m just kidding, but it’s beautiful to witness this small example of me sustaining a behavior and being a better friend.

  49. I think What Josh did was amazing. I’m an artist and strive for time in my busy schedule sometimes when I want to draw or paint something.

    I currently have been focusing a lot on my Yoga Teacher Training program. The reading as well as all the understanding that comes inside our lectures makes me yearn for more. Of course my focus goes in and out here and there, but my interest doesn’t fade. I’d say life is quite delicious right now 🙂

    • Exhalado, the movement of the mind “in and out” of focus is natural. With time, gradually, through the practice of yoga, we become more aware, more focused and calmer. Life is delicious, that is a pretty sweet place to be – enjoy every bite!

  50. I find calming the mind is far more significant that the body. I suffer from an active mind, stress and anxiety at times. Calming my mind through my yoga practice (an ongoing project!) has helped me to sleep more, subside my stressful tendencies and feel overall happier. Negative thoughts will come and go but bringing yoga into my life has taught me to push them away. It doesn’t matter if someone else has a better job, relationship or family. We should learn to be happy with what we have and clear the jealousy.

    • KTYogi, the more aware we become, we more we understand the nature of the mind. Sometimes we are jealous, sometimes calm, sometimes anxious, sometimes joyful. The more we learn to accept those changes, the more at peace we are with them. Yoga teaches us to love all parts of us, which creates less conflict within 🙂

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