Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras 1.3 & 1.4

1.3 When that is accomplished, the seer abides in its own true nature

1.4 Otherwise, at other times, the seer is absorbed in the changing states of the mind. 

Is meditation or yoga a means to an end, do we focus the mind in order to find this quiet, settled mind, or is it already an expression of that which is most true in us?  The shifting, changing states of mind are with us always, a hall of mirrors without end, accompanying us in every moment of every day. This quiet mind is here as well, holding up all our confusion without concern or effort. We are master magicians caught up in believing our own magic act, forgetting that it is our own slight of hand that has created this seeming reality.

In the beginning, it will be necessary to practice as if the asana or the breath was some magical tool capable of delivering us from ourselves. Almost by accident, we will find the mind settling and we will think that it was something given to us by the practice. We become inspired and our practice grows and these settled mind states continue to deepen. We start to find these states popping up in our day to day lives. When we get angry or stressed we find we’re less reactive and able to work better with the situation.

At some point we will begin to see that these moments of almost accidental spaciousness are pointing to something more than just us feeling good, something more than a magical elixir that delivers us from our stress and problems. We begin to sense that through our practice we’re coming into touch with ourselves at our deepest and most intimate level. Eventually, asana, breathwork or meditation will become an expression of that which we really are. We don’t practice in order to find center or connect. Practice is by it’s very nature centered and connected. We will find ourselves thinking, “Gosh, I’m most myself, i feel most at home, centered and confident, when i’m in meditation or in asana practice.”

What is it that sees? What is that thinks? What is that feels frustrated or stuck? What is that says, ‘I love this feeling of bliss, I never want it to end..?’They are all changing states of mind, the frustration, the bliss, the stuckness and the openness, but there’s something holding all this up. You.

In our asana practice, we don’t need to add anything more to it! No more ideas, or opinions or assumptions. If we do, then we’re back to being caught in the changing states of mind, caught up in self created illusion. What if we could just stay in bridge pose and give our full attention to it? Is the posture itself creating a sense of ease, or is it the mind that carefully and quietly pays attention to all the tiny details in the pose that allows us to settle and feel good? Please try to come to our poses in this way and experience it’s true wealth and joy. This is not advanced stuff. Anyone can do it. You don’t need to be flexible or to understand the postures or alignment or yogic philosophy. You are practicing you. You are practicing on yourself. All you need is to be aware and to have a body. You qualify 🙂 There is a quiet dignity in asana or meditation that comes from simply being with the practice. Please find this dignity so that you can inspire your own life and that of others.