In the absence of the state of Yoga, the mind only knows its own projections (sarupyam).
PRACTICAL LIVING The previous sutra described what happens when we are in a state of Yoga. This one, on the other hand, tells us what happens the other times (itaratra) when we are not in a state of Yoga. Most of us live our lives in a state that can range from very excited/angry/jealous/anxious to very lethargic/in denial/numb/hopeless. The mind tends to move between these different states, a movement referred to as vrtti. This happens, according to Yoga, due to the scratches and dents of the metaphorical “mirrors” that our minds are (discussed in Sutra I.3). This unclear mind does not allow us to experience our inner light, which makes the mind look for “happiness” in the external world. This is where the senses become a crutch for distractions. And according to Yoga, this is why we suffer (see “In the Yoga world” in Sutra I.3).
A practical way to understand these fluctuations (vrttis) of the mind is to observe the flow of our own thoughts. It’s like watching a river from the banks instead of trying to watch it while floating in it. While in the water you are at the whim of the river’s currents, on the bank however, the changes of the river have little to no effect on you. In the real world this means that as we emotionally attach to our environment, when it changes it carries us with it, while when we remain unattached, we become only observers.
For example, we can begin by observing thoughts such as:
– If only I were skinnier, then I would be happy
– If only I were funnier, then I would be happy
– If only I were married, then I would be happy
– If only, if only, if only…
IN THE YOGA WORLD When we are not aware of our true nature we become identified with the activities of the mind. In other words, when the mind is not focused, the Self appears to assume the forms of the mental modifications. We would then seem to have lost our original identity and have identified those parts of us which are always changing, our bodies and thoughts. In this un-yogic state, the Seer appears to be defined by whatever the content of the mind is – a scary idea when we reflect on what goes on inside our minds sometimes! Reaching a state of Yoga is hard work. Not being in that state is the most common situation for most of us – confusion reigns, whether it is recognized or not. The question is: while in the state of un-yoga, can we just observe our thoughts for a few minutes per day and not attach to them?
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON Meka is probably the person who knows me the most. Being exactly 17 months apart, we grew up together and cultivated a dynamic love-hate relationship. There were periods when it was mostly hate, but fortunately today it is a relationship based on love. She has shown me throughout the last 3 decades that my mirror (my thoughts, words and behaviors) has been often blurred and dented. I am immensely grateful to the numerous conversations with her that helped me clean a lot of my past. Meka is also a powerful example of change. From focusing frequently on hers and others weaknesses, she now is a master of being able to see her own strengths and those of others. Meka, thank you for always being beside me! I love you more than words could ever possibly express!
Do you have any experiences you would like to share? Please interact as much as you like – everyone will learn from your personal experiences!
Thanks and we will look at the five activities of the mind next week!
I relate to this sutra all too well. Society puts so much pressure on us to be what they feel, is perfect when in all actually 9 times out of 10, they couldnt be more off. Though we all have the same inner light, we are all different individuals and we have to do whats best for our own self…while maintaining and sustaining that balance 🙂
Hi Christina, yes, yoga is the process in seeing clearly what is best for us. Though in essence we are the same, our bodies, thoughts, values and emotions all influence us in different ways. Joy is the same for everyone, but the paths are numerous.
I too relate deeply to this sutra, Christina. Why is it so much easier to be unfocused when we were born as pure gems, and I can imagine that we were meant to stay like that! Oh well! Let’s move on and like Luli said; focus on the good. After all, God knows for how long we’ll be here, so let’s just make the best out of every moment. I am happy for my changes. And allI know that is they’ll always be here…”the only thing constant is change”. Lulita, thank you for acknowledging these, and more so, thank you for being my true sunshine. You make Life better. I love and admire you so much. Keep shining and spreading your light and love. Mekita xx
Mekita, it seems like life is a wonderful opportunity to polish the “gem” 🙂 Like a jeweler, we need to do some polishing everyday and gradually that gem begins to brighten and to radiate light. I love you Sapekitz! Your gem shines everyday more and more 🙂
Thanks Lucia – the analogy of the river real makes sense to me. I need to spend more time on the bank observing and less time getting washed down stream 🙂
Hi Charmaine, I loved the analogy of the river too! It made things a little clearer to me. Whenever I am able to stand on the bank I celebrate!
I appericate the river analogy you used. Such a simple idea but very profound
Hi Aqua, the river metaphor helps me too. Little by little we are able to stand more often on the river banks…
I love the concept of detachment from our thoughts! It is such a liberating experience…one i am working on each day. I disappoint myself with overreactions which this sutra speaks to…anger, jealousy, etc. They leave me in a ragastic state which leads to anxiety. A very familiar yet unhealthy place for me. My personal practice has been beautiful in meditation…helping me detach from the thoughts which hinder me. Simply observe…so peaceful.
Hi Jess, I’m happy to hear that the practice has been working. Our personal practices are great daily opportunities to detach from old samskaras and adopt a new longer breath, a more aware body, and a more focused and calmer mind…
I find the analogy of being swept up on top of the current of the river versus watching it from the bank. It is very hard to do this with the mind. When I was studying phenomenological and first-person methods, the first dilemma that arose was the question of whether the mind can take itself as its own object and the extent to which it can observe itself. What I have noticed in my life is that I can catch myself falling into habitual and self-judgmental or defeating thought patterns, take a step back, breathe, and observe. This past year has been particularly challenging for me in terms of self-acceptance and I am still in the process of grounding a firm, peaceful self-acceptance that is not contingent upon external circumstances (internal self-worth).
Lynda, I love your words “take a step back, breathe, and observe”. What a clear way of summarizing this whole process. Patanjali tells us this is a gradual process: first it’s clumsy (vitarka) but it gets easier and at some point is joyful (ananda). Self-acceptance is an important part of the journey for sure!
Wow. After reading this, I can only imagine what I look like at work! I’m certain that it’s true that the self assumes the form of our mental modifications when not in a yogic state. I’ve mentioned in the past how unhappy I am with my current job. It really hit me though, when one of the women that I work with said to me, “I know you hate your job, but you need to smile more.” This really tells me that my emotions which are filled with anger and discontent are basically defining me. I’m sure that it will be a challenge to finally just step back, acknowledge the emotions that I’m feeling, and just think of something positive so that my “self” will be able to portray a more positive sense of well being. I feel like that sort of thing “rubs off” on other coworkers, too, when I have such a negative attitude.
Hi Daniel, comments like that, though difficult to hear, can be blessings if we can take them as opportunities to self-reflect. Not only do we start to become how we feel, but like you said, that affects others around us. That is why I say yoga is a healthy selfish: we work on ourselves so that we can then share with others…
I really relate to this sutra. Out of my friends in high school, I was the one who had the curves. I was so self concious of them and my big behind that all I wanted to do was lose weight to get rid of my big butt. People always commented on my butt saying it was “big” in a good way, but I had it because it drew so much attention to me. I started to go on crazy diets to lose the weight and when I did, my butt was still there! I finally came to realize that its who I am and Its not going to change. Now I love my big behind and am proud of it 🙂
You go girl! Some of us felt traumatized for the lack of a behind…ahhhh…the values that we need to question so that we can view ourselves as these amazing human beings! I am happy to hear that you’re in love and proud of your “deliciousness” as Brazilians would refer to it 🙂
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It’s easy to judge others (especially when they seem to have many advantages) but ultimatly we have to love ourselves and truely know ourselves. I think with that will always come kindness.
I feel like I am wearing a thousand eye-glasses.
Which all blur and distort my vision.
I take one out and for a little while I feel like I have perfect sight.
Then I realize that I have more to shed.
It is sad that only when I realize that I am wearing one,
I have the ability to take that one off.
It’s tricky but it’s the perfect investment.
I once read how newborn infants are not able to perceive their mothers as having an existence separate from their own.
That is also a perception. 🙂
Serhan, this is exactly the journey of yoga! You have summarized it beautifully. May we all have the courage to shed one pair of glasses at a time 🙂
I really love the river analogy, it makes this sutra so accessible! Brilliant. This sutra rings true to my samskara of allowing my emotions to dictate the course of my life and personal well-being. My friends and I have always recognized me as being a particularly moody person, coming in and out of slumps with every turn of the tide. While a lot of people have come to think of my moodiness as a quirky aspect of my personality, this sutra makes me realize its not quirky or even necessarily pleasant at all. In a lot of ways it’s destructive to my own success and the way I affect those around me. Luckily, though, I am aware of this aspect of myself and every day try to swim a little closer to the river bank. Hopefully, over time, with consistent awareness and desire to grow, I can one day stand on the bank and smile at the ever-changing current that is life!
I also really liked the river analogy… Too often I find myself fighting the current, churning up the water, or being washed away. I need to focus on moving to the edges and dancing on the bank! It’s getting easier to observe the flow with focus and practice – getting ashore has been a fun journey.
Lately, I have been trying to save money as I’m soon graduating an (for all I know) unemployed English major. But I’m having trouble denying myself trips to Starbucks for a chai latte, for example, even knowing that I want to save money. I know I can handle living without these things- I’ve done so before, and been happy! And yet, somehow I still find it within myself to see the value, the potential for happiness in these things. Not that these external things don’t have value of any sort, but it is interesting that my mind can create such strong attachment to external things that are not vehicles for true happiness, but temporary band-aids. I am now aiming to work on the reminder of this sutra to keep me from giving in too easily to the chai. (Though I must also recognize my desire to save money for financial security is also an external attachment!)
This sutra reminds me of my life right now. I recently decided that I want to move to a new city and experience a new job. And while this is certainly attainable, and will probably make me challenged and happy in the long run, I find myself getting lost in the excitement of my future. I sometimes realize I am not living in the present, and instead thinking “if onlys” “If only” I could leave sooner, or start my new career right now! There is still so much planning to be done and still a life to live where I am now, and I need to remind myself of that.
“If only I had a boyfriend, I would be happier.” I found myself saying that a lot when I was younger. I was under the impression the only way I could be the happiest I could would be to be with someone. Fast forward a few years and I finally HAD that boyfriend and I thought my life would be happier from here on out. And for the first year, I was happier but then something shifted and I found myself questioning my happiness again and if only we did this, if only we did that – we would be happier. Somehow, I had lost my true self in the process of being a girlfriend and eventually lost the boyfriend. Now, as I’m experiencing my first real heartbreak, I find that I’m not only hurting for the love I lost, but my heart breaks that I let myself flow in the river and became immersed in the things around me that “made me happy” but I knew deep inside it wasn’t quite right. But, now that I’m aware of how my mind is processing all of these feelings (thanks to yoga!) I’m slowly swimming back to the bank.
It’s very easy for me to attach to external things and get dragged under the river of my emotions. For example, today I was given this beautiful gift for my apartment, but it did not match my color scheme. I’d become so attached to the idea of having a pinterest-perfect apartment that I could not feel grateful for receiving a gift. I think taking a step out of the river (before the full panic about the colors set in) helped me see how ridiculous it was to be so attached to something that really doesn’t matter. What really matters is I have someone who cares about me enough to get me a gift! I will continue to cherish that and work to not get carried away by such silly things.
So true! Quieting the mind to reach a state of Yoga is hard. After reading this sutra it makes me want to say out loud:
“If only I can detach from my million thoughts or speak some of them out more, I would be happy!!!” ☺ Ha Ha!
I once took a personality test called June Typology Test and my result was INTP, which described me as Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinker and Perceiving. This is so true since I sometimes spend too much time in my head. Unfortunately at times it is one of my obstacles, because being in this state leads me to numbness, either not say much or anything at all when necessary. I also cause myself to be anxious or nervous which are unhealthy states for me.
This is definitely one I am working on and will need to continue to work on…
This sutra brings up a lot of the struggles and suffering that are currently happening in my life. If only I could work from home, would I be happier. If only I had a less demanding job and more time for the things I love, I would be happier. Now I have that, and I still am not happy. I miss daily interaction and challenges. Just because I think something may be the perfect fit in my mind, does not mean that it will make me happy. This all makes me realize that I need to be happy with myself and focus on my true calling in life, as well as make actionable steps to achieve both of these 2 things. I need to step outside of myself and my thoughts (ie. watching the river flow) and be more mindful and aware. Even if it is just for 2 minutes a day. Maybe I am feeling lonely or hopeless that day, but the next day I could feel energized and full of love. Taking a step back and being mindful of these thoughts will help me be a happier and more fulfilled person.
In moments of sorrow or lack of a better word sad, I find it easy to just attach to any idea or thought that pops in my head. If I only could do this or if only I could do that. Being drawn to these ideas believing that by trying to suck myself into this I would be able to escape from being sad. This is not correct at all but instead allowing myself to understand why I am thinking in the way I am to maybe just let go of some of that fear. No one likes being sad but I really hate being sad, it prevents me from being at 100% to keep my drive going, which is probably why I medicate a lot when I get the feeling of being sick but that is neither here or there. Instead of trying to force myself to be happy I can just let myself be sad and allow it pass by so I can have more room for a new found feeling of joy. I find that whenever I get sad I like the idea of sitting down or laying down and having a good cry if it is needed and when I finally get back to feeling more joyous it feels just a little bit more better. As if I am appreciating the feeling of happiness.
This Sutra resonates very clearly with me and the point I am in my life. I am constantly thinking that “If I move, I will be happier”, a move will allow me to find the right person, it will let me start over, it will let me find the right job, and cultivate the right relationships. In the past 13 years, I have moved every single year… Whether it be to a new apartment, or across the country, every time a renewal lease needs to be signed, I’m out. I focus so much on what I don’t have, and what I want and think I need, that I overlook everything that I do have. I attach to these ideas and things that I think I should have in my life. and begin to look for happiness in the external world. This year, while I am changing apartments again, I am not allowing myself to change cities. I have made it a point to start focusing on the present, and not always living in the future.
“A practical way to understand these fluctuations (vrttis) of the mind is to observe the flow of our own thoughts” – this is a valuable and simple practice that I have implemented into my daily life for the past few years. Through my observation thoughts I’ve experienced first hand how difficult it can be to ‘detach’ and have seen how the vrtti always changes and attempts to find ‘happiness’ in external things – for me it tends to try to focus on romantic relationships, social status, and material things like clothes/shoes. Another thing that I’ve learned from observing my thoughts it that detaching from these thoughts and external things becomes so much easier when you realize and accept the fleeting nature(or impermanence) of these things and that they cannot give you anything of lasting value. Observing myself and remembering the impermanence of my thoughts and emotions has helped me battle attachment to many things in my life, like attachment to sorrow(depression) and attachment to fashion(materialism). Though I still go back and forth from ‘itaratra’ and a yogic state, I can relate to this sutra and it encourages me to observe myself more everyday.
My mind outside the state of yoga not only fluctuates constantly it’s usually, and mind you quite easily, persuaded by rajasic emotions. A quickly example of some rapid firing of my neurons in my non-yoga state: I’m starving (it’s usually never just normal hunger, it’s always the extreme of hunger), where is food? why am i not eating right now? This is making me incredibly angry (not just slightly upset, it’s straight up anger) after this unfolds I quickly realize my breathing is all wacky, my face is slightly flushed and I have a frown on my face (most likely leaving the first tell-tell signs of aging myself for no reason) and I ponder why I have ended up in this ridiculous state? Instead of acknowledging normal body responses (hunger/tiredness) and responding accordingly I let my most basic of emotions (anger) take a hold of me and bring me on this crazy wild ride of frustration. I usually end up frustrated and disappointed with myself for my reaction and I fall silent (probably some form of tamasic state). Life without Yoga is not only tiring, it’s ever changing and unsettling. I find quick “happiness” in the proverbial and literal food (for some reason most of my anger stems from food) and I attach to this idea that If only I wouldve eaten breakfast or a snack everything would’ve been fine but in reality everything would have been fine if only I would’ve taken a deep breath.
Towards the beginning of my teacher training experience I had convinced myself that, if I were unhappy at times, it was a direct result of being too embroiled in my own ego. I believed that my connection to the desires of the self were what caused me to suffer and only be eschewing these desires could I relieve these feelings of discomfort. This did not seem ill-founded initially; sutras 14 and 15 describe how a sustained and focused practice can achieve such a state of reduced desire. However, I had conceived of this idea in my own misconstrued milieu, the idea itself of eliminating the ego was just another external source to grab hold of and attempt to utilize to achieve happiness. It took the guidance of a number of very wise friends to point this out to me. I cannot say that I have stopped entirely or that I do not need a reminder of how I am drawn to this habit but I have come to acknowledge it more in time. Yoga is a practice and I would like to think that its teachings are aiding me in seeing my actions from the bank more frequently than fighting the flood.
I have noticed that being in a state of yoga does make me happier. I focus less on the stresses of life and more on the things that make me happier. However, sometimes it is extremely hard to get into that state especially when your mind absolutely does not want you to be there. Today is a perfect example of this sutra. I put my two weeks in for my job because I found a new one that I was so sure was a better opportunity and situation for me. Change/quitting/saying goodbye is hard as it is. On top of that stress my boss was telling me how bad of an idea it was and all that all why I had to deal with my taxes because the woman that did them messed up. Also I had to call of my second job to deal with the taxes. After all that was over I tried to go to the gym to take my mind off everything, and find my yogic state of mind just to feel a little grounded and of course my headphones were not working. I can say today I felt every emotion I could have and it was impossible to stop my mind. All day just constantly thinking if I am making the right discussion, or if I am going to have to pay more for my taxes or if my boss will be made for missing work. Replying to these sutras have actually given me the only clarity I have had all day. I am committed to replying to these and it has given me a clearer mind. IF ONLY I could comment on these forever =)
This sutra makes me happy because it reminds me that many of the lessons of yoga are universal truths. Those of us who were raised Christian have heard this one before–“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That means we should be happy right here, right now, with exactly the life we have, with no excuses. This lesson was reinforced a few days ago when I was practicing yoga at home. I was stiff as a board, my hips which I am slowly trying to open seemed to be tighter than ever before, and I started to freak out in headstand prep. As I started getting down on myself for the poses I couldn’t do, I realized I needed to be grateful for the body I have and what I can do—which is a lot, compared with the man I saw in a wheelchair today who might not even be able to wash himself, or the elderly woman in a nursing home who daydreams about how she danced as a girl, but cannot get out of bed now. Time and a new perspective can really change everything, because a couple days after freaking out in headstand prep, I was able to briefly sustain headstand on my own without using the wall for the first time ever. I didn’t even think about whether I’d be able to or not when I kicked up, I just did it unexpectedly. It was such a victorious moment and you bet it got recorded in my prana journal! Moments like these which “make your day” are coming more often for me now, because I am learning to celebrate small victories. Sure, to another person what I did might not seem like much, but to me, it was a message from the universe that I’m making progress and am on the right track, and to “rejoice and be glad.”
When I am in a yogic state both on and off my mat I find I am most definitely at my happiest. When am in a state of yoga, and I am working towards my relationship with myself, with others and with my body and breath I feel I can take on the world. Even when my days go horribly awry my reaction is not as extreme, I am able to bet handle stress and I have noticeably less anxiety. Yet when I have those weeks/days/hours/minutes when I allow my external senses to take over I can see myself going through the rajastic/tamasic roller coaster. This particularly happens when something stressful happens at work, I become quite worked up and then by the time I get home I proclaim myself exhausted and dole out a night of television and junk food because “I deserve it”. The problem is, these indulgences make me feel worse! I know that giving myself an hour of asana or mediation would make me feel better at the end of the day, and I know that coming to terms with what made me stressed out in the first place would be the best way to avoid future stress. I know this. But sometimes happiness via the external world is just so darn tempting and convenient (and tasty). Hey, acknowledging that you need to make the change is the first step, right? 🙂
Meg, awareness of the behavior is definitely the first step. However, knowing that we are not ‘perfect’ is also a huge step. We are slowly changing creatures. So looking back every now and again and seeing how far we have come is essential to help us remember that we are changing, and yes, we are not perfect. We are imperfectly changing human beings 🙂
When you are not in a yogic state it is really hard to be the observer on the river banks. Through yoga I have been trying to make that change. I do notice since I have been more consistent with my practice that being an observer is an easier state of mind for me to reach.
Kate, it’s great that you’ve observed that change. Keep practicing 🙂
I feel like the world is the river, and we are all floating in it. It’s how we float that differs us from one another. Are you bumping into your neighbor, creating waves? Or are you swimming through life quick and in a hurry, passing everyone by? Are you stuck? maybe in a shallow, or on a fallen tree? I think yoga teaches us to be aware of our surroundings, all the commotion, buzzing around us. It teaches us to not get caught up in our neighbors waves, and helps us look for the fallen tree ahead. By having a clearer mind, we can find a balance, and float in the river with a steady pace. Maybe even a cooler of beer floating by our side. Happy and content with who we are and where we are going; even though we never know where we might end up.
I love your interpretation Mary! And the cooler of beer, brilliant 🙂
The deeper I delve into my yoga practice, the more I realize that yoga is a state of mind that allows me to align my energetic and physical bodies with clarity. It also allows me to keep my habit of self-reflection, but shifts it in a way that feels much more productive…Rather than circling around the same, worn-out ideas of the self, it allows me to move beyond those mirage to see what remains when those spectres dissolve.
Great Bridget! Yoga is about 1) practice & detachment 2) self awareness 3) change the old with the new 4) transformation
I love how at the end you throw in “for a few minutes per day”. That is the start, the first paddle to the banks of the river… When I was considering an at home-meditative process, it was daunting. Everyday?! But once I began to take myself away from work, away from love problems, away from other distractions, I found a little morsel of piece. Sure, it’s just a few moments a day (or despite my efforts, every other day), it’s a wonderful, uncluttered few moments. It makes letting go of small, small hurdles in life accessible.
Chris, today’s yoga world makes us think that we need to practice 60-90 minutes of asana everyday. If that makes you feel calm, then by all means this is the right thing for you. But that is not the right amount of time, nor asana is the correct yoga tool for everyone. Finding the right amount of time and right tools for yourself is what yoga is all about. Eventually, this is not just a practice separate from our other activities – it becomes all our activities 🙂
I really like the idea of observing our thoughts and ideas and not becoming attached to them. It makes me think of the many times I am in a meeting and someone is truly upset when we did not go with his or her idea. There are many times when it really isn’t a big deal but the person has taken it so personally that it gets blown way out of proportion. On that note, I think it is sometimes difficult not to personally connect with our ideas. Even though our thoughts are changing they can represent a part of ourselves that we feel very connected with. I think being a bystander or observer to our thoughts allows for being more open to the thoughts of others and reflecting on why we think or feel the way we do. It would be wonderful to start every meeting or conversation not attached to our ideas but thoughtfully listening to the ideas of others.
I see this sutra as you cant see the forest for the trees. If i pay too much attention and got bugged down by trivial things, i wont be able to grasp the big picture /situation. Life is such a long and beautiful journey, dont let a bump on the road gets you. I learn that the less i judge, and just sit back, observe and listen, i could learn more a thing or two. So funny that i relate to a recent song lyric: i got 99 problems and you just aint one…
I struggled with this sutra a lot throughout my life. I used to imagion statements like ‘if I were skinnier, richer, more popular then I’d be happy. The last ‘if only’ statement I have abided by ended in May: ‘when I turn 18, I will be happy knowing I’m free to be my own person.’ Usually I would say any ‘if only’ statement I came up with would be negative, but I can truly say I was right about this one. The ability to legally express myself without the influence of adults that restrict my free will (my will to be vegan, do yoga, sing and other activities I enjoy) has brought me so much joy it’s unbelievable. So in certain circumstances, I believe ‘if only’ statements can have some truth to them.
I relate a lot to this sutra. I did a lot of relaxation through the years and realized that comparison or setting a certain standard for yourself doesn’t do anything positive for yourself.
Attaching this to my practice, starting my asana practice at my first studio, i used to think that if I could do headstand, I’d be defined as a great Yogi. I could do so many other poses, but couldn’t get headstand down after a year. I’d fluctuate through times where I’d say to myself “It’s okay” then “No, you need to get this!”
After a while I started realizing, I will get Headstand through time- but when I do, that won’t mean I’m anymore or less of a “Great Yogi” – Whatever that means. Happiness isn’t measured or deadlined
We live in a time in which this sutra is EXTREMELY relevant. Constant feelings of personal inadequacy and messages of “you are not good enough” permeate our society through television and social media.
The people selling you something NEED you to feel that way so that you will buy their product. Some Facebook users NEED you to want or “like” their personal life or achievements for them to feel a sense of worth. It is a never ending carousel of external gratification.
Through yoga I have learned to separate these messages I tell to myself from my true nature. I am still learning, (and I probably always will be), but one of the gifts of yoga is being able to learn the difference between what everything else is telling me, what I am taking in and internalizing, acknowledging it for what it is, and letting it go. I believe some of the most powerful internal struggles arise from not letting go of trivial messages or situations that don’t matter- “In the absence of the state of Yoga, the mind only knows its own projections (sarupyam).”
Yoga does not teach one to be “above” or “beyond” these thoughts, and that’s why it’s so beautiful and approachable in my opinion. Instead, yoga realizes that these messages will always be there- to acknowledge them, become aware of them, and let them go- because we are human.
Practicing meditation was my first experience of being the observer. It took me sometime to let go of the thoughts, clatter, emotional involvement and constant viewing of every act. I also had to learn to stop being guilty of taking time for myself. It’s OK to do it and not being judged for it. Whenever I would take a longer break from meditation I would notice the difference in my behavior and approach to my family. Also, whenever I find myself starting to judge others I realize it quickly and then stop. I teach my kids to be neutral and not judge.
Unfortunately, my mind has developed in a place where payoff is the most worshipped god. So, while I try to keep a yogic mind now, I am battling nearly thirty years of working towards an end result. A metaphor I will borrow from Alan Watts, it is as if I arrived at a symphony simply to hear the cymbal crash at the end. Progress I have made on this front includes my drawings. When I decided graphic design was not for me, and I had no great desire to become a full time starving artist, my hobby fell to the wayside. My feelings were that it was a silly hobby. This, of course, is a projection of what my ego fears. It is a projection of who I think I might be. A silly girl. Slowly it is coming back to me, but I have to remind myself that it is not about the framed piece I want to hang on my wall. It is not about the praise I might get.
So I love how all these sutras follow into the other. In the last sutra, I thought about how yoga helped me cultivate more self-love. HOWEVER, I can’t say that that self-love stayed. I could only seem to feel that way when I did yoga and did everything perfectly. Well it’s not realistic to do everything perfectly all the time. I can’t always exercise, have a clean room, do yoga, do a great job at work, call all my family, and pamper myself in one day! Shoot I can barely make time to do all that in 7 days let alone 1 day. I’m so excited to be a part of the CSOY Yoga Teacher Training because I know that my clarity is conditional. I know that some days it’s stable and other days it goes down the river with whatever is happening in the outer world. I hope that when I’m done with Teacher Training I can cultivate this sutra in my own spirit and truly see my inner light even when I can’t make it to a yoga class 🙂
It is certainly scary that all our suffering comes from the sometimes blurry perceptions our mind has from the world around us and from our own self. But it is also comforting to know that we all have the tools inside to gain the detachment that would allow us to perceive this same world more clearly and not through the lens of our own perceptions. We all are people and we all once in a while are scared and fall and fail, but there it is our family,our friends, our teachers, a kind stranger, our inner yoga, to give us a hand and support us while we recover and shine again!
The “If only” statements resonate with me a lot. Some days, those thoughts are more present than anything else. If only I were skinner. If only I were living somewhere else. If only I had achieved all of my goals. This type of negative self talk can have serious effects on my day or my life in general and I have to remind myself frequently that these goals, milestones, and perceptions are superficial. The journey is more important than the outcome and when I recognize this, I feel like I am in a much more peaceful, yogic state of mind.
If only assumes one will feel better if external circumstances change. It does not require any work from within. If only is a powerless state. Yoga teaches me to feel powerful through acceptance of how things are for me at this moment, what can be learned from this experience and to fully accept the experience as it is rather than try to paint it another way.
“If only is a powerless state”. Can I borrow this?
This sutra truly connects with the previous, and I feel as if I was considering this message before it was presented to me. So often we are unable to have a clear mind. We get wrapped up in our concerns and issues with ourselves and others rather than focusing on the true aspects. Because of this, we cannot understand our true selves and experience our inner light. The “if only” statement examples hit home, as I find myself and so many others always wishing for things to be different and better than they are in their present state. Instead, we should look within ourselves and see the truth that is so often hidden behind misconceptions and critical opinions. We should come to accept our flaws not as imperfections, but as unique qualities of ourselves.