Today, for Friday, a day to start the weekend and play a little, I will share something that may sound difficult at the start. However, if you will attempt with effort, consistency, and an open mind I think you will find this will practice is not only useful, but necessary for a sense of calm and peace in the mind. Your mind is a beautiful instrument. Like all instruments, it requires proper care and the development of some skill to play well.
Yoga Sutra I:32 ” The practice of concentration on a single subject (or the use of one technique) is the best way to prevent obstacles and their accompaniments.” Translation Sri Swami Satchidananda
This is a freeing practice for anyone. When the mind begins to wander, whether it is pleasant or no, you can use the mind and practice concentration. The first trick is to notice when the mind begins to wander, and to begin the practice. In this way a sense of peacefulness will naturally arise. The Yoga Sutras talk about what you may use to concentrate on. It can be a mantra ( a group of words - given by the teacher or chosen by the individual – which bring a sense of joy. You can choose to concentrate on the breath. There are myriad other options described in the yoga sutras. The best way is to pick one and stick with it.
Don’t let yourself worry about if you are doing it right. Pick something and then do that. Trust that you are human, and as a human this will eventually become a sense of peace. It is natural. No trying. Just do and relax. Balance effort and comfort.
Many people today have the sense that in any situation having more options, more choices, and switching around to get some diversion or enjoyment is what is beneficial. When it comes to meditation and concentration this is usually just the mind looking for entertainment, rather than learning to work as you ask it to. Once you have accepted that the mind does not have control, it is a worker for you, there will be an easing.
Yes, the mind can be willing to work in any way that we ask the mind to work, but this requires training. The training is keeping with a single focus of concentration. The benefits are joy, peacefulness, and a sharp mind. All very valuable in every aspect of life.
I would encourage you to pick a mantra, or begin to work at noticing the breath. Then, when you are in the grocery store, standing in line anywhere, and pumping gas you can use this focus to practice patience, presence, and enjoyment. Perhaps you can use it at the doctor’s office, while cooking dinner, or making the bed. All of these times become available moments to work toward peace in your mind, rather than playing back troubling scenarios, or planning. When you mean to plan, plan. When you are just doing some work which does not require the mind, see if you can get a sense of peace, and space and openness. Try it as a form of play, rather than work. See if you can feel an easing into the repetition. The words and breath become waves you can float on. You can just be as you are, however that is.
I wish you much peace throughout your weekend!
With gratitude… Beth
Yoga Pose of the Day: Purvottanasana – Upward Plank Pose
Yogic Concept of the Day: When in doubt, return to my form of focus (breath, mantra, or other forms)