Translation: Yoga is the restraint of the modifications of the mind, or yoga is the cessation of the whirlings of the mind.

The entire world around us is our own projection. Things are the way we think they are. If we allow our minds to run wild, they will gladly turn our lives upside-down. Values, relationships, situations, and experiences can alter with the blink of an eye. Our assumptions about them are merely that.  Nothing outside of you makes you what you are, but our attitudes towards the outside world do. If you can learn to control your mind and the way it interacts with the world then you can do anything. Easier said than done. Our minds work out of habit and like to go back to the places that are the most comfortable. Learning to quiet your mind is kind of like training a puppy. Every time the puppy has an accident, you kindly pick the puppy up and put it outside. When the puppy does it again, you correct it again by picking it up and bringing it back to the right spot. Gently and over time, the puppy finds the spot on it’s own and has formed a new habit. Sometimes it’s more difficult than others to bring the mind back. You might be sitting in a yoga class and for example, you get a whiff of perfume from the girl next to you in class. Your mind starts to wander: why is she wearing that in class, how annoying, her boyfriend probably bought her that, I wish I had a nice perfume like that, I wish my boyfriend would get me perfume, they’re probably married, I want to get married! All  this chaos and insanity is caused by one simple external event that has taken you completely out of the moment and also created want and discomfort. Whereas before, you may have been feeling great. Now, you have allowed this event to completely alter your day and you have new expectations, which unless met, will leave you feeling unfulfilled. Satchidananda explains that these “mental modifications” are what get us into trouble. Our minds don’t just have a thought and move on, they have the thought and then continue to expand on and modify the thought beyond what is actually happening. These modifications start to really exist for us. Our minds are very very good at cross- associating one thing with another thing, which might be/ most likely is completely unrelated.  Silly minds. We create a whirling tornado of thoughts in our head and they become real. The goal is not to clear the mind of all thoughts. The goal, I think, is for our minds to be present in the moment and for our thoughts to flow in and out of us without amplification and modification. Only from this reality, can we truly have clarity about ourselves and the world around us. How many precious moments are missed because our minds are still busy creatively developing a single event that occurred a minute, an hour,  or years ago? If you could drop a pebble into still water and not make a ripple… that’s the idea…

February 14, 2010. yoga.

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