When I wrote about my experience as a beginner to the Ashtanga practice I promised 2 more parts on my mental and spiritual experience of yoga. And that’s just it, yoga is all about the experience. I experience yoga in moments throughout my entire day. The practice of quieting the mind and coming to a place of deep concentration, Dhyana, was something I never really considered in the beginning. My mind was just fine, thank you very much... The discipline, tapas, of coming back to move and breathe and meditate day after day was never the goal. If someone told me 5 years ago that practicing yoga would help me “gain mental clarity” I probably would have called bullshit.
So two quotes come to mind for me immediately. First:
Yoga chitta vritti nerodaha.
“Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind”
-Yoga Sutras of Pantajali, 1:2.
The literal goal of yoga: to quiet the bullshit. We all know that times can be tough, decisions can be hard to make and change is inevitable. How do we deal with the ebbs and flows, or forces and reactions that life is constantly handing us? Get ready… Through my experience of yoga, I have found that there is a little flame burning deep within my heart. It holds an energy of comfort, home and happiness. If I can quiet my mind enough through daily practice (asana, mantra, pranayama, karma yoga), I can bring myself to that space and listen, or follow. There are still plenty of times where my monkey mind leaps from the studio, to my laundry, to the traffic and back again. But now I have the tools and inspiration to focus on re-direction, and it feels so good!
And quote numero dos:
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.
If we are the only ones who can find this freedom, then we better start now! If we let it, the mind will run rampant. Without the glimpses of peace of mind in my asana practice, I’m not sure I ever would have believed such stillness was possible. The more I quiet my mind and bring myself inward, the happier I feel. And I love feeling happy. WARNING: this isn’t going to be easy. Yoga has brought up some very difficult things for me, it has strengthened me, humbled me eternally and most importantly it has taught me to trust myself. Our minds are good for remembering names, driving cars, making lists, paying bills, etc, which are ALL good things to do in life but they don’t guarantee you eternal bliss. The mind is simply not always the best ally in a quest for happiness and love. That is what yoga teaches me every day. Every. Single. Day. Listen to your heart, if you can’t hear it there’s a chance no one else will. I love you!