Sunday, July 1, 2018

Free your mind ...

and the rest will follow … 

I have always loved this song by En Vogue (yes, I am dating myself).  Super-catchy melody accompanied by a snappy beat.  I am attracted to songs based on melody and beat; definitely not a fan of slow sappy songs.  I don’t really pay attention to lyrics though.  Many a time have I sung along to songs on the radio, without even realising what words I am singing, let alone their meaning.
But somehow, these 3 words from the En Vogue resonate with me … Free your mind.

There are 8 limbs of yoga.  The first 2 limbs advise on the moral codes we should follow in interacting with others and personal duties towards ourselves (yamas, niyamas).  The other ‘lower’ limbs deal with the body (asana, pranayama).  These prepare us for the ‘higher’ limbs which deal with the mind (pratyahara - sense withdrawal, dharana - concentration, dhyana - meditative absorption) and ultimately lead to Samadhi (enlightenment).

In today’s modern context of yoga, there are classes for Asana, Pranayama and Meditation, each with different styles and techniques.  I have my regular Ashtanga (asana) practice and I try to do some Pranayama first.  I find that it helps deepen and lengthen my breath in preparation for my Ashtanga practice.  Meditation? Nah, but not that I haven’t tried.  If you put me in a seated position first thing in the morning with no movement involved …. I will fall asleep and it doesn’t matter how much sleep I have had the night before.  My gift of being able to sleep anywhere anytime is a curse when it comes to developing a meditation practice ๐Ÿ˜€

Different forms of meditation have different methods.  Some will focus on a thought/concept, a deity or repetition of a mantra.  Some get the mind to concentration on breath control or observance of the breath.  Some will instruct not focussing on anything at all but to watch the thoughts that come into your head.  Not holding on to any but just acknowledging it and letting it go.  The Ashtanga yoga practice has been described as ‘Meditation in motion’.  Students are instructed to focus on observing and controlling the breath, keeping it steady in length, depth and rhythm whilst syncing it to specific movements.  Drishti (specific gazing points in each asanas) also help to focus the mind.  I have to admit that I may start off doing that but in the end, my mind wanders off.  Yes, bad Ashtangi. But I can’t help it.

My time on my mat each morning is my personal time.  Breathing and moving through asanas which are automatic to me now is a chance for me to   mentally let go.  It is amazing what thoughts come into my head and even more astonishing, the conclusions and ‘A-ha’  moments that pop out of nowhere.  Many a day have I stepped onto my mind worrying about something or pondering a problem and during my practice, the solution just comes to me, clearly and logically.  I have even generated mental To-De lists; things that I have needed to do for weeks but have forgotten.  Strangely (or not), it is sometimes hard to hold on to these thoughts.  The To-Do list is usually forgotten by the time I am done with practice.  I am guilty of stopping (just a few times) to write them down .  The solutions or possible options to more complex issues/problems though, tend to stick and get reinforced in my head.  Sometimes they even get sorted out in point-form which I love.  Call it an occupational leftover from my previous life as a management consultant.  It never ceases to amaze me what passes through my mind during the time I am on my mat.

There are days when I manage to keep my mind on controlling my breath and observing the sensations passing through my body.  Inevitably though, my mind will go off at some point.  If Guruji heard this, he would probably go ‘Bad lady. Incorrect method’.  But instinctively I feel that sometimes not controlling your mind is enlightening; a form of release and freedom from all restraint.  I feel mentally lighter; no worries or concerns, even if it's just for a while before coming back to reality.

So, try it … click on this link ... come on๐Ÿ˜‰

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