Yoga as Nirodha

Silencing the heart-mind

 

Love opens my chest, and thought

Returns to its confines.

Rumi, from Granite and Wineglass

 

It’s been awhile since I have done a yoga sutras post, and it was mostly intentional. The past couple weeks since I have done a sutra read and written reaction has been very clearing for me, because it allowed the first sutras I read and wrote about to really sink in and become clear while practicing on my mat, teaching classes all around Miami at greenmonkey yoga and for my Red Cheetah Yoga locations. These teachings have also landed in my life, the most powerful ones being the citta (heart-mind) and the purusa (steady inner light of awareness).

The entire work of the yoga sutras is truly centered around these two things: the citta and purusa. I have seen how I act when I have allowed my citta to become clouded and cluttered with the things I have picked up from not meditating, practicing yoga, and exercising consistently enough, the biggest ones being negative beliefs about myself, others, and the world, and negative habits like being argumentative and worrisome.

The Yoga as Nirodha has allowed me to see how my past actions have affected my current life situation, too. Even as soon as a couple months ago, I had horrible habits of making purchases without thinking them through first. A lot of them I didn’t need, and there was a time a couple months ago when I made an exorbitant amount of purchases because I let myself get carried away emotionally. That decision I made, which I see now was made when I was not taking the time to “polish my citta”, or, in English, I made those decisions when I was very unclear with myself and my higher purpose, affected not only me but my boyfriend as well. Months later, I am still playing catch-up, and he has had to sacrifice to help me catch up, too.

This book Nicolai Bachman has written has helped me in tremendous ways, and I love taking it apart bit by bit and giving it time and space to absorb because I know it is helping me live more deliberately and in a more disciplined way. I heard someone say once that discipline equals freedom, and I could not agree more. The discipline to exercise and eat well keeps us maintaining our physical freedom and maintain independent living as we age. The discipline of yoga keeps us limber and flexible so that we may bend and not break when under pressure. The discipline of meditation and breathing exercises and chanting meditations has been shown to be beneficial over and over again through controlled, clinical studies done at major universities like Harvard and Columbia and Boston University.

As human beings, we are creatures of habit, and we tend to like to exist in what is easy for us, but the truth is that we need some challenge in our lives to stimulate our organism: challenges to our physical bodies and to our brains. It is these disciplines in the form of yoga, meditation, CrossFit, teaching yoga certifications, reading books and articles, that truly keeps me going.

Which, by the way, all the aforementioned things are what clouds our cittas, cluttering it with other people’s ideas and things, experiences and our learned reactions to experiences, that we must continually clear out of ourselves if we have any kind of hope of proceeding from clear space that is loaded with the possibility of a created future, instead of the predictable one we are condemned to if we do not take the time to clear out our heart-minds and allow our authentic, pure, and energetic inner light to shine through.

Bachman writes, “Yoga is, by definition, a process of quieting these activities {of the heart-mind} in order to be able to look deeply within and connect with that which never moves, our divine inner light of awareness (purusa).”

Yoga is the practicing of quieting (nirodha) the activity of the heart-mind. This can occur unconsciously and independently of us being aware of it. Whatever it is we can do unconsciously we can also do consciously. So, why not live the aware life where can be at cause in our lives and the precious time we have on this planet, rather than being at effect, or playing the role of a victim, which so often happens?

Bachman acknowledges that: “nirodha is not actively avoiding, suspending, or ending our thoughts and emotions. Rather, it occurs naturally when our attention is focused in one direction, causing those distractions to submerge and the inner light of knowledge to emerge.”

It is anti-yoga and anti-self-awareness to avoid problems. I know I have done this for many years, believing that if I ignore some issue it will disappear on it’s own, but it doesn’t. It never does. Yoga teaches responsibility. Yoga and meditation is a responsibility to your soul, which leads you into showing up powerfully and taking responsibility for your entire life.

Nirodha depends on two pillars of yoga: abhyasa and vairagya. Abhyasa is diligent, focused practice and vairgya is non-attachment to sensory objects. The more I cultivate my meditation practice, the greater these two pillars stand out for me. Less and less do small things worry me about my life: things like the laundry piling up, little things around the house not getting done as quickly as they normally would, and it’s not from lack of attention or an excuse for laziness. It is because the disciplined work of daily meditation has led me to prioritize better, which is a part of my routine I hadn’t realized I was lacking in until recently. I realized that getting my companies off the ground and running was more important than folding socks for a couple weeks.

I do still fold my socks and put them away! It just isn’t as quickly anymore just because my excitement over what Al and I are creating is getting the best of me, and we have so many events, meetings, classes, and commitments to attend to, things at home might be a bit sloppier than normal.

But the great thing about having a responsible man and a fellow yoga teacher as a boyfriend is this: whenever and however we can, we support each other. And, if we see that the other has not had an opportunity to wash their own dishes, begin another run of coffee for Cheetah Grounds, put some clothes away (even if it’s just a portion of it and not all of it), while on the move, we do it without complaining, because we know it keeps our home in order.

I know this is probably part of a sutra that is up and coming later, but whenever I have time to put my shoes away and Al’s shoes away, I have chosen to complete these tasks without complaint, and to adopt a sense of joy around doing them. Because, truly, those tasks are not different from one another. Both must still get done, and both will be done. It feels good to have concentrated effort and energy focused on achieving goals, and at the same time being grounded and grateful enough to complete mundane tasks around our home that keeps us sane and moving forward.

To me, this is what yoga as nirodha has accomplished for me lately. Quieting my mind to give me space to focus on what I can create not just in the grand scheme of my whole life, but in the even grander scheme of what is happening right NOW is even more powerful.

Our lives are happening right now.

This is where we are meant to be.

Our moment of greatest power is right now.

So, make it intentional. Commit to whatever practice it is that you need to create the centered and focused and fruitful and fulfilling life you need, and go all in.

Action is only ever understood through it’s opposite: stillness. To act in the deepest way, you must be still in the deepest way.

It is from an inner space of quiet and ease that your inner wisdom shines through the brightest.

Work on it every day.

 

Thoughts

 

Directing my attention inward on a regular basis will cause distracting thoughts to subside and allow my inner light to shine through.

 

A quiet, calm heart-mind enables me to see things clearly and make wise choices that benefit myself and others.

 

I will cultivate a clear and open heart-mind.

 

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