… Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.
Recently, the “fluctuations” of my mind have been out of control. I have been feeling worried, anxious, stressed and overwhelmed. The spiralling thought mess has taken over! And the silly thing is, I know exactly why - a lack of meditation (I know - BAD YOGINI!!)
In the Yoga Sutras of Patenjali, the practice of Yoga is explained as the stilling of the mind until it rests in a state of total and utter tranquillity. When we are in this state, we are able to see and experience life as it is – as Reality – because it is no longer coloured or clouded by our thoughts.
The fluctuations that Patanjali refers to are a result of our desires, aversions, attachments, ignorance and the ego's sense of “I”, “me” and “mine”. So when the fluctuations of the mind are totally removed, we no longer have thoughts of good/bad, mine/yours, and we become totally at one with everything in the universe. We have no separation from our inner divinity and “the Divine”. This is yoga (“union”, or to “yolk”/“bind”).
However, we all know that it is impossible to remove our “mind-chatter” altogether, because we are always thinking! What Patanjali is actually teaching us here has to do with a method of quietening, or stilling the mind through a system of practices that lead us to mental peace (asana, meditation, etc.)
The reason life becomes a roller coaster ride of madness sometimes, and we can find ourselves feeling totally overwhelmed by our thoughts, is because most of us (myself included!) identify with the fluctuations of the mind so deeply that we can end up acting them out through our behaviours. And unfortunately, it is very easy to get stuck here.
But when we do yoga and practice meditation, we start to become the witness of these fluctuations, rather than identifying ourselves with them. In doing this, we are less likely to believe our thoughts to be true, and more likely to see them for what they are: ever-changing, fleeting and transient in nature. In other words, they are not really true. They are merely a truth/reality we have manufactured ourselves in our minds!
As we work to practice this art of quieting the mind, we need to remember a couple of things:
1) We must remain dedicated to the practice, as this leads us in a constant direction, and 2) we need to also practice non-attachment to the practice itself as this will alleviate a lot of the pain and suffering that will inevitably come our way when working towards self-realisation!
I’m off to meditate…