तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोऽभ्यासः॥१३॥
tatra sthitau yatnah-abhyasah
Practice (abhyasa) is the steady (sthitau) effort (yatnah) to remain or move towards mental stability.
PRACTICAL LIVING The previous sutra states that the path of Yoga requires both practice (abhyasa) and detachment (vairagya). But how do we implement them in our lives? This sutra begins to describe one of them, abhyasa, in more detail. In order to move towards, reach and maintain a state of Yoga (mental clarity, focus and calmness), we are required to adopt practices, actions or efforts that will help us reach that goal. These efforts need to be challenging, but not too hard – we need to find the correct amount of work at a given time. In Chapter II, Patanjali offers practical ways to apply the concept of abhyasa. For example, ahimsa or kindness is one of the concepts we should be practicing on a daily basis in our thoughts, words and actions. This requires continuous efforts and vigilance, awareness on many levels so that our unkind thoughts, words and actions gradually change to those of compassion, gratitude and peace. The way we practice is different for all of us since we have unique backgrounds, personalities and challenges. Therefore, having a teacher who can offer appropriate practices is very important, as stated in Sutra I.1. “sthitau” or steadiness/firmness is a crucial word in this sutra. It implies that these practices need to be done continuously, without interruption. We need discipline in our efforts. Being kind to my husband one day and going back to anger and resentment the other days is not what Patanjali is referring to. We need to make the effort all the time, training our minds (changing our neurochemistry) to think, speak and act in a new way. Can you begin a new, healthier practice today? Maybe begin to practice kindness towards yourself, a family member, a friend or work colleague 🙂
IN THE YOGA WORLD Often in the Yoga world we hear the message that we should just let things flow. According to Patanjali, however, in order to achieve and maintain a peaceful state of mind and a natural bliss, we need to practice with enthusiasm and vigor. “sthiti” or stability refers to the firmness of the mind achieved when we are able to control or guide the vrttis or movements of the mind. When the mind is stable, it naturally flows towards the object of concentration without obstructions or distractions. To reach this latter state, a lot of discipline is needed. In the midst of writing this sutra, for example, I was very distracted by the natural beauty I find myself surrounded by in Uruguay. My abhyasa was to: first do my personal asana and pranayama practice indoors (where the rheas, wild deer and exotic birds would not catch my attention), and secondly sit alone while my family and friends either napped or rode horses. In other words, abhyasa (practice) asks us to sustain the practices that we have chosen to adopt so that we can cultivate more moments of joy, peace and amazingness. This blog brings me that, and so naps and horseback rides have to be missed every once in a while :). Before 2012 ends, I would like to wish you all a beautiful end of year and an even more joyful new year!
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON Pitchulita is one of these very special sparks of light in the world! She has been adding light, laughter and companionship to my life for the past decade. Pitchulita and her wonderful hubbie have, for the past 9 months, been practicing the art of travel and personal growth. Leaving their jobs behind, they have dedicated one year to experience life away from their ritualistic lives in the city. I love Pitchula for her love for life! She uses words like “sexy” and “awesome” interchangeably to describe a variety of situations. Her gusto for life allows her to live the “sexiest” and “most awesome” life she could possible imagine! This woman has become a jewel in my life and I am wonderfully grateful for how much she “rocks”! Te amo minha Pitchula!
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 abhyasa (practice) in even more depth!