Tag Archives: healing yoga

Complete Mastery Over The Roaming Tendancies Of The Mind Is Yoga…

By Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD

Complete mastery over the roaming tendencies of the mind is Yoga. (Yoga Sutra 1:2)

The mind is a repository of all our thoughts, feelings, and memories. It is a storehouse of our likes and dislikes. We see the world – and ourselves through the eye of our mind. When the mind is clear and peaceful, we see the world as bright and peaceful. When the mind is convoluted, our understanding of the world and our relationship with it becomes equally convoluted. Our concepts of good and bad, right and wrong, depend on the quality of our mind, as do our likes and dislikes. The quality of our mind, in turn, shapes our thoughts, speech, and actions.

Memories pertaining to our deeds and experiences are deposited deep in our mind. These memories – subtle mental impressions – agitate our mind from deep within. Propelled by these impressions, the mind thinks and acts. Impressions and the thoughts and actions propelled by them are endless. That is why we find our mind constantly chasing one object after another. It has almost forgotten how to be still and be aware of its thoughts and actions.

The mind is disturbed because deep within the elements of attachment, desire, anger, fear, and doubt are active and the mind is operating under their influence. The mind is stupefied – dark, dense, and dull – because deep inside the elements of worry, grief, dejection, and hopelessness are active and have rendered the mind inert. The mind is distracted because disturbance and stupefaction are mingled with enthusiasm, courage, motivation, clarity, and purposefulness – and all these elements are randomly active. As a result, the mind is partly focused and partly dissipated.

A mind caught in any of these three states lacks clarity. It has no confidence in it’s own powers and privileges. It is indecisive and only halfheartedly willing to act on its thoughts and ideas. It seeks validation from external sources. When propelled by a disturbed, stupefied, or distracted mind, our endeavors, no matter how noble, bear little fruit. The fruit they do bear is invariably tainted by doubt, uncertainty, and fear.

This is where the quest for (samadhi) a perfectly still state of mind begins.

The mind becomes one-pointed when the elements of purity, clarity, and peacefulness are active deep within. Acting under the influence of these elements, the mind regains its power of illumination (sattva). A one-pointed mind is stable. It no longer grieves over the past nor worries about the future. The elements of disturbances, stupefaction, and distraction have been put to rest. The mind is serenely active and flowing peacefully inward.

Now the practice of Yoga, in its truest sense, has begun.

Yoga As A Life Practice…

By Donna Farhi, Bringing Yoga To Life

Yoga is not Woodworking 101 but Japanese carpentry. Our teachers may show us precisely how to bevel the edge of a table or chair, but there is only one person who can bevel that edge. No matter how clear the teacher’s description or careful her demonstration, it may still take a hundred crooked, crude, and rough attempts to become proficient and produce that smooth edge. Just as a poorly sanded surface will splinter fingers for years to come, false understanding will continually sabotage a life. What we produce through such patient artistry is a spiritual understanding of enduring beauty.

We may find that when we begin our practice we have a low tolerance for frustration. We may use any slipup as evidence that we have unwisely placed our faith in such a practice. Through our cultural conditioning, we may falsely believe that things should come easily, that life should be as it is on TV; a series of climatic moments where everyone is having a birthday. Or we blame someone else; “If the teacher were clearer, I’m sure I would get this.” But nothing can replace the minutes, hours, and days of practice, observation, and just plain old trial and error involved in a lifelong apprenticeship. It is the very slowness of this apprenticeship that is the healing, for in slowing down we fall into a more natural rhythm with life and with ourselves. Thus we gradually change, gradually understand, gradually integrate the unconscious material of the psyche into the conscious mind, and the incremental nature of these changes ensures that we metamorphose without losing anything in the equation.

Working Towards Compassion and Acceptance…

Compassion and acceptance of yourself and others is a yogi’s core value – actually we could consider it part of the first core value, or yama, called ahimsa – which is non-violence to yourself or others and includes not judging yourself or others. When we live in a place of judgment, we tear out a part of our human heart. We can even witness the ill effects through the energy shift that takes place. Think about it the next time you judge yourself or another person and pause for a moment to feel the energy that takes place. If you stay there and witness it, there is a level of toxicity and contraction and restriction. Then also witness and hold onto the understanding of what happens when we shift into compassion and non-judgment of self or others – everything opens, flows – positive radiant energy flows and is beautiful. The message of every yoga asana could be a grounded and compassionate and curious: “I love you.” As a teacher I try to always be in this place – but as a student I also try to be in this place – where I am building love, acceptance, compassion – for myself and for all others in the room. Try it out, and see if it changes your experience.

Perception and Action…

Adapted from “The Heart of Yoga”

How does our perception work? We often determine that we have seen a situation “correctly” and act according to that perception. In reality, however, we have deceived ourselves, and our actions may bring misfortune to ourselves or others. Just as difficult is the situation in which we doubt our understanding of a situation when it is actually correct, and for that reason we take no action, even though doing so would be beneficial. In yoga terminology, this is called Avidya – literally meaning “incorrect comprehension.” The opposite is Vidya, “correct understanding.”

Our incorrect comprehensions are very rooted in us because we often live life through a series of many unconscious actions and ways of perceiving that we have been carrying out for years. As a result of these unconscious responses, the mind has become more and more dependent on habits until we accept the actions of yesterday as the norms of today. Such habituation in our action and perception is called Sam Skara. These habits cover the mind with Avidya, as if obscuring the clarity of consciousness with a filmy layer.

If we are sure we do not clearly understand a given situation, generally speaking we do not act decisively. But if we are clear in our understanding we will act and it will go well for us. Such an action stems from a deep level of perception. In contrast, Avidya is distinguished by superficial perception. I think I see something correctly, so I take a particular action and then later have to admit that I was mistaken and that my actions have not proved beneficial. So we have two levels of perception: One is deep within us and free of this film of Avidya, the other is superficial and obscured by Avidya. Just as our eye is transparent and clear and should not itself be tinted if it is to see colors accurately, so should our perception be like a crystal-clear mirror. One goal of yoga is to reduce this film of Avidya in order to perceive and act correctly.

Expanding the Category of “Us”…

Inspired from Rick Hanson, P.H.D and Budda’s Brain – The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, & wisdom.

Loving Kindness

Let’s be mindful of the automatic mental processes that cause us to identify with a particular group (gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, political party, nation), and then regard members of different groups as others. Focus on similarities between “us” and “them,” not differences. Recognize that everything is connected to everything else, that “us” is the whole wide world – that, in a deep sense, the entire planet is our home and the people on it are our extended family. Deliberately create mental categories that include us along with people we usually regard as not-us. For example, when we see someone in a wheelchair, consider the fact that we are all disabled in one way or another.

Be particularly mindful of the default processes of valuing our own group while devaluing others. Notice how often that valuing actually has no rational basis. Be aware  of the little ways that our minds regard others as less of a person than our individual selves. Focus on the good things about people in other groups. Regard people more as individuals than as representatives of a group, which reduces prejudice.

Meditation on Loving Kindness

Find a posture that helps you remain relaxed and alert. Settle into your breath, establish some equanimity, some mental spaciousness and balance.

Be aware of the sensations of the breath in the region of your heart. Bring to mind the feeling of being with someone you love. Keep that feeling of love. Sense that love flowing through your heart, perhaps in a rhythm with your breath. Feel how that love has a life of its own, flowing through your heart, not specific to any one person.

Sense the love toward people you know, your friends and family. Feel that loving-kindness extending further out, to people you know who are neutral to you. With them the best, wish that they suffer less, and that they truly be happy.

You may feel loving-kindness like warmth or light or like a spreading pool, with gentle waves that extend further out to include more people. Feel this loving-kindness including even difficult people and people who may have harmed you. Wish that even they suffer less and be truly happy.

The peacefulness and strength of this loving-kindness flows outward even to people who you don’t know, whether you agree with them or not, whether you like them or not.

Keep feeling that flowing love as you watch your breath enter and leave your body.

 

How Yoga Creates Change…

Author Bo Forbes, PsyD – Yoga for Emotional Balance

Chronic stress, multitasking, the pressure to have it all, and a value system that emphasizes achievement over self-care make emotional imbalance, not balance, more common in modern human experience. It’s no secret, alarming numbers of Americans are on some type of anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, and/or sleep aide.

If you’ve tried for a long time to “fix” your anxiety and depression through medication or psychotherapy, these are not your only options. You can add yoga to any treatment you’re currently using and see beneficial effects. Unlike medication and psychotherapy, yoga addresses the mind and body at the same time. Yoga’s physical poses (both active and restorative) help build new body experiences that differ from anxiety and depression. This tells every system in your mind-body network that you are not anxious and not depressed. Yoga also influences posture: it can shift the very movement and alignment patterns that have led to a closed heart area, amped-up muscular tension, or sped us up to the point of agitation.

Yoga’s benefits don’t stop there. It’s special breathing techniques can calm an anxious mind or invigorate a sluggish one. Its use of relaxation, after each practice and in restorative poses, balances the nervous system. And yoga’s ability to help us attend to our direct experience (sometimes called present-moment awareness), also sets the stage for quieting the mind and changing mental patterns. Yoga’s therapeutic tools (focused attention, visualization, breathing exercises, relaxation, and Restorative Yoga, to name a few) don’t just begin to assemble a new, healthier emotional experience. They reach beyond these experiences to the root of our original suffering: a separation from the deepest parts of ourselves.

Yoga is a mind-body medicine. It works through the mind and body to help heal anxiety, depression, and other forms of emotional pain.

There are countless studies proving the benefits of yoga practice at the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.

I encourage you, if you are suffering in any way, to seek out a yoga teacher who’s teaching style resonates with you in an environment that feels safe to you, and move through your healing process and find inner peace, happiness, and strength.