“And then we did our giving and taking, and our poses, regular as clockwork … I had learned a long time before, that keeping them up every day was more important than the problems that would always arise and try to stop them.”
~ Friday, from the book “How Yoga Works”
Three mornings have gone by since I last wrote. I’ve been up with the sunrise, but felt uninspired by the photography of it all, and went back to bed. Yesterday in particular, the wall of clouds and sahara dust obliterated any possibility of the sun’s beautiful rays from shining through.
I usually honor these days of sleeping in, as a sign that I need the extra rest. And yet, I recall it was at this same time last year that I found myself restless with my practice. 5:30AM comes awful early at this stretch in the year, as the sun makes it’s furthest progression north on my horizon.
In his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali teaches us: Both practice and nonreaction are required to still the patterning of our mind. Practice is sustained effort to rest in stillness. This practice becomes firmly rooted when it is cultivated skillfully and continuously for a long time.
Yoga Sutra 1:21 – For those who seek liberation wholeheartedly, realization is near.
Yoga Sutra 1:22 – How near depends on whether the practice is mild moderate, or intense.
Yoga Sutras 1:23-1:26 – Realization may also come if one is oriented towards the ideal of pure awareness, Isvara. Isvara is a distinct, incorruptible form of pure awareness, utterly independent of cause and effect and lacking an store of latent impressions in the mind. Its independence makes this awareness an incomparable source of omniscience. Existing beyond time, Isvara was also the ideal of the ancients.
Yoga Sutra 1:27 – Isvara is represented by the sound, OM.
Yoga Sutra 1:28-1:29 – Through repetition its meaning becomes clear. Then interiorization develops and obstacles fall away.
Yoga Sutra 1:30 (the 9 hindrances):
- sexual indulgence,
- lack of progress, and
… are all distractions that, by stirring up consciousness, act as barriers to stillness.
Similarly, the Buddha listed out 5 hindrances to enlightenment:
- Sensory desire (kāmacchanda): the particular type of wanting that seeks for happiness through the five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and physical feeling.
- Ill-will (vyāpāda; also spelled byāpāda): all kinds of thought related to wanting to reject, feelings of hostility, resentment, hatred and bitterness.
- Sloth-torpor (thīna–middha): heaviness of body and dullness of mind which drag one down into disabling inertia and thick depression.
- Restlessness-worry (uddhacca–kukkucca): the inability to calm the mind.
- Doubt (vicikicchā): lack of conviction or trust.
I’ve always believed that it is the obstacles which strengthen our practice. Seeking happiness in the beauty of the rising sun, doubt in terms of what I wanted to write, sloth (one of my favorite Buddha words) in that I really want to sleep in some mornings. All these are hindrances to my morning practice. I won’t even bring up the hindrances to my afternoon practice!!
I shall continue on, just as Friday teaches on the Sutras, knowing that every day is more important than the obstacles that will always arise and try to stop me. Even if it is just to get up, look out the window at the rising sun, and offer my dedication ….
I am a yogi. Firmly oriented towards the ideal of pure awareness, Isvara …
OM (its vibration lives in my heart through repetition).
“While there is a regiment of both physical and mental practices that come to work in yoga, the essential result of yoga is a shift in the way you see things. When you see things as themselves all by themselves, you come to appreciate your role in creating reality. When you see things as them selves by themselves you can then appreciate how to become one with that thing by letting things to simply be. Breathe in the thought of that thing. Bless it and release it, a radiant light of love, allowing it to be itself by itself. Discover how easy it is to let it be. Imagine all the people…if only we could be as One. If you can do that, you can transcend time. And time, you see – time itself becomes eternity.”