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Mind Work/Body Work

January 6, 2015 , , ,

Globe

Globe

There is no way to separate the effect the body has on the mind or the mind on the body.  This intricate interaction is centered around self image, accurate or not.  We may not see ourselves as we are.  In fact, the yoga sutras begin by addressing this subject:

1.1 Now, instruction in Union.

1.2. Union is restraining the thought-streams natural to the mind.

1.3. Then the seer dwells in his own nature.

1.4. Otherwise he is of the same form as the thought-streams.

1.5. The thought-streams are five-fold, painful and not painful.

1.6. Right knowledge, wrong knowledge, fancy, sleep and memory.

This was written in Sanskrit and has been translated in many ways since Patanjali wrote it.  This translation is by BonGiovanni.  We learn by reading this ancient text how the mind works.  It is very specific and detailed.  Meditation is offered as remedy for confusion and lack of clarity of purpose.  Westerners have flocked to yoga as the perfect fitness activity, enjoying all kinds of variations on yogic teachings.  Here in the western hemisphere we have trouble integrating mind and body, consciousness with soul and spirit.  We want to have landmarks and rewards for success as we progress. Yoga as a strictly physical practice, even if you include pramayama, or breath control, does not align with the purpose, which is to control the mind.  If we are successful yogis we will not only dwell in our own nature, but we will be free of identifying with thought streams.  This requires constant and uninterrupted practice.  Thought streams arise from ourselves, from the opinions of others, from cultural belief, and from circumstances.  To acknowledge them and let them go is a powerful and uplifting act.  You are not your thought streams!!  This idea is the basis of meditative practice.  Learning to execute the perfect tree pose takes full concentration.  Presumably there is no attention left for thought streams while you balance on one leg and stay aligned.  Asana is not the only way to bring the mind into focus by using the body:

  • Walking or running can be a kind of contemplation.  Using a mantra while you move along can improve focus.
  • Body work by a good therapist offers a healing, non-verbal way to leave the daily grind on the table.
  • Bathing, steaming, soaking, or using aromatherapy reduces the level of stress, opening the door to bliss.
  • Breathing is a simple, always available, way to bring your focus inward to keep your mind in order.

The easiest (and therefore perhaps the most difficult) breathing practice I know is just a simple counting of breath.  Count to ten, marking each inhale and each exhale with a mental number.  This seems so simple that you will be surprised how often you can’t make it to ten without the mind drifting off onto some thought form. When you observe the interruption, simply start again with a silent number one on the next breath.  Don’t struggle with the thought; just let it go. Resume counting and breathing. Do you have a practice to focus the mind and keep it focused?  Do tell.

What do you think?

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comments

This is a very helpful post whether you meditate or not.. and it helps calm the mind. I loved the imagery/mandala .. very cool .

Liked by 1 person

Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

January 11, 2015

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