Looking into someone’s eyes is as real as it gets. If you’ve ever been in deep love, staring into your partner’s eyes can be one of the most profound and genuine experiences. Likewise, a teacher or guru’s gleaming eye contact has the potential to communicate heartfelt devotion from across a room.
There are many examples of sayings and proverbs that refer to the eyes as the seat of sincerity:
The eyes have it.
The eyes are the windows to the soul.
Seeing eyeto eye.
The eyes don’t lie.
So it seems that our eyes mirror our truth. On the contrary, what happens when we find it hard to be honest? Don’t we tend to avert our gaze? Or, how about those times when we try to pull the wool over someone’s eyes? Or, turn a blind eye?
“When I first began to study yoga I thought that samadhi was a trancelike state which would take the practitioner away from everyday consciousness to a better state of being. Over the years, my understanding has changed. Now I think of samadhi as exactly the opposite of a trance. Samadhi is a state of being intensely present without a point of view. In other words, in samadhi you perceive all points of view of reality at once, without focusing on any particular one.” – Judith Lasater
Samadhi is often defined as enlightenment or the highest state of consciousness. In its illusiveness, it is the 8th and final limb of the yogic system. There are many variations and explanations of its meaning – a state of bliss, communion with God, union with the ultimate reality… In the end, I have concluded that it is a most personal experience. You receive your samadhi based on what it is that you most seek…
“Your mind can be compared to a glass of muddy water. If you let the glass stand for a long time, the mud will settle at the bottom of the glass and the water will become fairly clear. So when you sit down for a while to concentrate, your mind is muddy with restless thoughts. But if you sit long enough, repeatedly bringing the wandering mind back to the practice of meditation, you will see that all thoughts settle down; and in that stillness you will feel superconsciousness.” — Paramahansa Yogananda
Our minds are filled with muddy impressions of who we think we should be. We absorb distorted beliefs, like detritus, and allow them to influence us. A lot of times we even define ourselves by this garbage without thinking clearly.
“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize that there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.” – Lao Tzu
In the context of our next yama, non-stealing or asteya, this week we will value what we have. Therefore, find one attribute each day that you are thankful for and celebrate it on your mat. If you are confident in your downward dog, do a practice that salutes that posture.If you are a patient person, try holding your poses for a little longer than you normally would. If you are good at standing up for yourself, work on those balancing postures a bit more. Continue reading “Support A Steady Yoga Practice: Value Yourself”→
…we should progressively embrace what is real for us, so that we may find health and harmony. As you go deeper into yoga, remember that you are doing this study in order to remember yourself, to come home to all of you… – Rolf Gates
In our practices this week, let’s focus on the second ethical quality or yama known as truthfulness. As a moral principle, truthfulness or satya, as it is called in Sanskrit, asks us to convey truth responsibly. Like the other yamas, we should consider truthfulness in thought, speech and action.
During my in-depth yoga practice this month, I have re-learned one simple and most important thing – that the breath is everything.
The breath in yoga can captivate the mind. And, if you’re lucky, the breath mesmerizes the mind so that nothing else matters. Because when the dance of body and breath come together, the mind is free to be. In this beautiful, tranquil state, the mind gets to rest and enjoy the present moment.
It’s what yoga is all about – it’s what life is all about.
And, that’s it for today. Experiencing viniyoga and its purpose has been a joy for me. Thanks to all who have come before and continue to provide their expertise and wisdom.
Throughout our lives we are subjected to impressions of who we think we should be. We absorb these distorted beliefs and allow them to influence us. A lot of times we even define ourselves by them. Why do we do this?
Because our minds are quick. They receive stimuli and respond immediately. When we instantly react to situations, we are functioning on a purely emotional level. Usually these responses come from a place of fear or conditioning – from sources that are generated outside ourselves. In order to recognize the truth of who we are, we need to provide time and space for inner reflection.
So, when a feeling rushes in, take a moment to observe what has come into your mind. Is this thought really accurate? Is it who you are? This is the first step toward connecting with your authentic spirit.
To gain space for true perception, you’ll need to release those random thought patterns. The ones that spring out of emotion-based thinking. A simple way to remove “mind banter” is to use the technique called Neti, Neti, Neti.
Sit quietly and focus on the space between your eyebrows. Attempt to clear your mind. This will be a challenge as thoughts will definitely arise. When they do, silently chant the words: Neti, Neti Neti.
The first Neti means “I am not this thought”, the second Neti signifies, “I am not this thought that is thinking I am not this thought” and the last Neti points out that, “I am not thought at all.”
Practicing the method on a regular basis will give your mind the opportunity to empty. Clear space will then enable new thoughts to arise, thoughts that give way to the true You that is within.
If you’d like to begin building a steady meditation practice, join me on my July Challenge.