We’ve all heard references to “calming, quieting, clearing or bringing peace to the mind.”
As many times as I’ve heard such phrases, only recently did someone challenge me to ask myself how well I really understood what it meant. You’d think studying yoga for ten years or sitting in a silent meditation for ten days would provide ample time to grasp this most pervasive idea.
No doubt I’ve felt a still and peaceful mind—in savasana or Vipassana meditation, whilst surfing or finding a steady forearm balance—but not until I took an eight-week course on the Yoga Sutras with Michael De Manicor did I intellectually look deeper into what stillness really implies.
The second sutra, perhaps the best known of the Yoga Sutras, is often translated as “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.”
In other words, yoga is stilling the mind, influenced by Buddhist philosophy. I, like so many others, took this at face value to mean stopping the mind and thoughts. De Manicor insists that this is not what the sutra means.
Key to his point is realizing that stillness is always relative. Let’s, for example, look at two people sitting next to each other on an airplane: relative to each other they are still, but relative to the earth they are moving hundreds of miles an hour.
As I thought more about this I began to see stillness as synonymous with harmony, cooperation or union (another yoga catch phrase).
When two or more things move in the same direction, at the same rate, toward the same purpose they cooperate or harmonize and generate a sense of stillness between them.
This could apply to people in an airplane, strings on a guitar or thoughts, breath and movement. When I further applied this idea to myself, or any other individual, I decided that another synonym for stillness was focus (epiphany light bulb: dharana). I examined the moments when I’d felt a sense of mental stillness and realized that my thoughts didn’t stop but that every part of me was focused on what I was doing; all of my thoughts, movements and breath cooperating and harmonizing.
Mental stillness, therefore, does not mean that the mind or thoughts stop, this would perhaps be death or at least serious stagnation, rather it implies we can choose thoughts and actions that an any given moment cooperate, and by working together create a sense of relative stillness.
So lately in asana practice, in my classes and in life I’m viewing struggle or mental clatter in a slightly different light.
I’m asking what thought or action is out of sync with this moment to cause the internal discord, and what thought or action can I replace it with in order to generate harmony and thus lead me closer to a feeling of stillness.
Morgan Webert is an avid yoga student and teacher from Colorado. She currently lives and teaches on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. You can find more info at: www.yogawithmorgan.wordpress.com.
Like elephant Yoga on Facebook.
Asst: Terri Tremblett/Ed: Bryonie Wise
hot on elephant
My favorite “mindful” eco last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts for lazy lovers. 0 shares A letter to the Anger that refuses to Leave Me. 2,115 shares A Relationship will only be as Good as the Sex. 5,216 shares Welcome to Pisces Season: A Love there is no Coming Back From. 7,058 shares How Each Zodiac Sign Prefers to Celebrate Valentine’s Day. 12 shares The 4 Requirements for a Twin Flame Relationship to Work. 1,136 share What Rumi had to Say about Unhappy Love. 224 shares The Most Powerful Performance at the Grammys was (Surprisingly) Not Beyonce’s. 1,398 share Jyotish Sidereal Horoscopes for Saturn in Sagittarius 2017. 3 shares How we can go to Heaven without Dragging Others with Us. 40 shares