“Yoga is the quieting of the fluctuations of the mind.” – Yoga Sutra 1.2
The first time I was introduced to this statement in my yoga teacher training, I thought, “Oh, ok. Simple enough. Let’s do this.”
I laugh out loud now, embracing my go-get-em naivete regarding my personal yoga journey. I continue to discover that, rather than a still pond, my “fluctuations of mind” range from cute little ripples to raging 60-foot waves.
First of all, I began practicing yoga postures as a form of exercise & stress relief … NOT as a way to quiet my mind. I needed to be in shape, on-the-go, & accomplishing things. I needed to be better & do more … just a little less stressed in the process =).
Maybe you or someone you know can identify?
Secondly, learning that yoga is more than getting into & out of physical poses … that there are several aspects, or 8 limbs of yoga, & I’d been focused on one (the physical) … well, for me that realization was both daunting & exciting. Exciting because there’s so much more to learn – a lifetime of learning & experiencing, really. Yet also daunting – “You practice yoga? You teach yoga?” someone asks. Hmm, do I? (but that’s a reflection for another time)
Physical poses serve to open the body, move energy & breath in an intelligent way … so one can move into the deeper aspects of yoga – relaxation, concentration, meditation & so on. If I stop at posture practice, roll up my mat & move on, I may be missing an opportunity to know myself a little more deeply, connect to something bigger, & move out into the world with stability & ease in mind as well as body.
So it’s time to practice some sitting … this thing called meditation. (Now cue the stereotypical image of skinny, old, half-dressed man with legs impossibly tangled, zen-like face, probably sitting for decades in enlightened bliss)
Reviewing my meditation journals from a while back, I read, “So I’m doing all this yoga stuff so I can SIT? Really? But I’m not DOING anything. And it hurts. And it takes too much time. What’s this sitting going to accomplish? What’s in it for me?” (& the mind waves start to roll …)
Maybe you or someone you know can identify =).
Thankfully the first step in meditation — establishing a sitting posture — is simple & offers immediate feedback & results. Sit so you feel upright, stable & comfortable. Period.
No pretzel legs. No time requirements. No feeling yogic or having secret knowledge.
Use a chair! Grab those cushions & blankets. Experiment. You’ll know when you’ve found your perfect sitting posture. Sit for one minute or twenty. The point is to SIT with ease & stability on a regular basis. Then the process of meditation begins.
Why focus so much time & effort on the simplicity of sitting?
“Regardless of which sitting posture you choose for your meditation practice, perfecting it leads the body & mind into ever deeper states of stillness. A perfectly stable posture focuses the body in the same way that an object of concentration focuses the mind. All the energies flow in one direction; the posture is held effortlessly, & body awareness no longer impinges on the mind. You will also notice that the breath becomes stable & effortless — more regular, smooth, quiet, & subtle. Then you are ready to enter a phase of concentration in which the mind itself is ultimately the object of attention.” – Rolf Sovik, Moving Inward
I continue to experiment with this first step in meditation – finding my seat – tweeking with a cushion here, an exercise to strengthen my back muscles there. It’s a process. There’s a lotta yoga – the process of quieting the fluctuations of my mind – still to experience.
How’s your journey going? I’d love to hear your experiments in finding a sitting posture that works for you. Comment below!