Or (va) meditate (dhyanat) on whatever is suitable (yatha) for you according to your unique interest (abhimata).
PRACTICAL LIVING This is one of the sutras that makes this text so universal and applicable to people of all different backgrounds. Moreover, Patanjali wrote this text about 2,300 years ago and it is still applicable to us millenia later! Part of the reason this text is timeless and useful to people of different parts of the globe is because Patanjali provides us with options: he never tells us what to believe in and what that should look like. This sutra, after the previous ones offering different ideas, asks us to choose an object of meditation of our liking. This means that a child could be meditating on his/her truck or doll, a teenager on his/her photo of a first love, a parent on a child. In other words, he tells us to focus on whatever we are drawn towards. Yes, meditation can be seen as a seated person with an erect spine, eyes closed focusing on their breath or a mantra. However, ideally our days are composed of continuous moments of meditation. But we need to start somewhere and that’s where our practice (sadhana) comes in. Can we stop whatever we are doing automatically, and consciously choose to do something and immerse ourselves in that? It can be anything that you are attracted to: dancing, singing, painting, taking a bath, praying. Patanjali teaches us that the actual activity is not what matters. What is important is that it is something that helps us cultivate a calmer, more aware state of mind. What is yours?
IN THE YOGA WORLD Ideally yogis and yoginis (practitioners of yoga) are practicing on a daily basis. That practice looks different for every individual since we are all different physically, mentally and emotionally. This practice becomes our object or activity conducive to a more peaceful state. In this sense, the physical postures (asana-s), the breathing techniques (pranayama) and the chanting or meditation on a precise object is all part of one’s meditative practice. If you are not sure what a good practice looks like for you, look for a teacher who can design the perfect practice for you, based on what is happening in your life today. That daily ritual often helps people take a step back from their busy lives and get an alternative perspective on life and its ups and downs. Reflection leads us to look inward, which causes transformation and more moments of joy.
Below is a summary of Patanjali’s suggestions in the last few sutras:
I.33 cultivating an attitude of friendliness toward the happy, compassion for those suffering, delight for the virtuous, and neutrality for those causing harm.
I.34 exhalation and breath retention.
I.35 concentration on the direct experience of higher sense perception.
I.36 focusing on the light within.
I.37 concentration on those who are free from attachments or demonstrate having something that you would like to cultivate more of.
I.38 reflection on the knowledge of dreams and deep sleep.
I.39 meditation on the object that is most appropriate for each individual.
Can you pick one of these today and begin your daily meditation?
INSPIRATIONAL PERSON The delicious Goddess Rita is definitely an inspiration! Wherever she goes, she brings with her an abundance of energy. Her smile and laughter are simply delightful. Her generosity is out of this world huge. Her devotion to her children and her profession are awing! She has chosen to give her children gigantic amounts of love everyday. I have also seen her in action at work and can tell you she is in a state of meditation. She helps women birth their babies and experience that sacred moment in such a positive way, it is inspiring! In yoga ‘dharma’ is the concept of a life calling, something that just feels right for us to be doing. This woman has found hers and everyone she comes into contact with feels it. Rita, thank you for the numerous gifts you have given me. I am so incredibly grateful that our paths crossed! Love you so much lady!
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 next week we will look at the results of a continuous practice of awareness as suggested by Patanjali in sutras I.33-I.39.