False identification of the Seer with the Seen
All that is visible clings to the invisible,
The audible to the audible, the tangible to the intangible,
Perhaps the thinkable to the unthinkable.
From NOVALS, translated by Lama Govinda
Since I am getting deeper in the yoga sutras, I like how I began my last posting with a list of the sutras I have already covered and their translations. It both helps me with retention, and I hope it helps you, too, with your retention and learning of the sutras as I read them from the book, The Path of the Yoga Sutras by Nicolai Bachman.
- Atha Readiness and commitment
- Citta Heart-mind field of consciousness
- Purusa Pure inner light of awareness
- Drsya Ever-changing mother nature
- Viveka Keen discernment
- Abhyasa Diligent, focused practice
- Vairagya Nonattachment to sensory objects
- Yoga as Nirodha Silencing the heart-mind
- Isvara The Source of knowledge
- Karma and Samskara Action and it’s imprint
- Parinama Transformation
- Duhkha Suffering as Opportunity
Samyoga means confusion in Sanskrit. Confusion prevents us from connecting with our own purusa, our inner light of pure awareness.
What is it we are confusing?
We are confusing our inner light, our “purusa”, with the outer world that constantly changes, or “drsya”.
It took me a couple reads of this chapter for that to really sink in. I think Bachman relayed this information in a really convoluted way, but once I slowed my brain down, aka calmed down my heart-mind, the message rang through loud and clear.
We, as humans, tend to get caught up in those daily actions and circumstances that can make us catapult in any direction emotionally. What this chapter means to me is that we can be enslaved by our emotional reactions if and when we are not aware of them.
Don’t get me wrong, it is GOOD, healthy, and important to feel emotions. It is important to take the time to let them pass through. What we as humans lose sight of, however, is that emotions are meant to be transitory, not sit around and fester in the depths of our being.
Which is what many of us do.
It is powerful to understand that emotions are things we EXPERIENCE, not things that we inherently are, because emotions are constantly changing, just like mother nature (drsya).
Bachman’s example really hit home for me in this chapter. He writes that if a piece of black glass, representing the manifest world, is overlaid on a piece of clear glass, representing our inner light of awareness, our eyes see only black glass. The only way to distinguish between the two is to turn our attention inward and experience that which cannot be perceived by our external sensory organs!
“The concepts of time, space, and even language,” Bachman continues, “ are qualities of the ever-changing manifest world; they do not exist in, nor can they be applied to, the unchanging conscious awareness.”
This speaks of the importance of connecting daily with your own inner being of light. All frustration, worry, fear, anger, depression, and all other low and dense energy emotional experiences are all things to keep us distracted from what our spiritual truth is: love, light, and compassion. We realize these things and connect with these things and allow these things to grow when we spend the time necessary every day to connect with our inner light-being.
We must have the discipline to adhere to our abhyasa’s (diligent, focused practice) to connect daily, because only therein does trust and faith reside when we are feeling moments of insecurity that manifests itself in blame, procrastination, poor decision-making, and other low-energy choices that can hold us back in life.
Yesterday my boyfriend, Al, and I had our home energetically cleaned by the most beautiful and remarkable man. I am going to keep most of the process to myself and Al and my dear friend and artist, Ale, who just happened to “coincidentally” (I don’t believe in spiritual coincidencese-there is no such thing) to be there with us. He taught us some beautiful and profound things with the cleansing he did of our home, and it feels as though our home has gone through a spiritual detox and mega weight-loss program. But, with his instruction for daily practice, he reminded me of the supreme importance of taking care of yourself first before anyone: he emphasized a daily breathing practice.
I have written extensively of breathing practices and how to do them, so I am not going to cover that in detail here, but the one he specifically wanted us to do was the Breath of Fire breathing practice. I know the Sanskrit word for it, but I only know how it say it, so I am going to guess at it’s spelling: kabalabati breathing. I am unconcerned with the actual spelling of it, those who know it will know what it is if you spell it out; I do know this is close though!
I, of course, happened to already be doing the breath of fire practice every time I sit to do my breathing routine. It is by far the MOST cleansing of all breathing exercises, called “pranayama”, that I am aware of (there are literally hundreds of exercises I don’t know, and there are even more I am sure that are available to be discovered and created!), and he cleaned up my technique for me.
I showed him how I perform this exercise, and he noticed I was sucking in my lowest set of ribs and I forcefully exhaled (by the way, look up this type of breathing exercise if you want to track with this post; if you already know this breathing exercise, do it every day! It will be the best habit you add in in a long time). He taught me to not pull in my lowest ribs, and to focus on only my belly muscle. It was much harder, and I did it this morning. It is going to take some adjustment, but I really felt good doing it, mostly because as a teacher I love being a student, and I trusted this man (London Brown in case you, reader, are in Miami and you are looking for an INCREDIBLE energy healer and spiritualist/psychic) so I wanted to learn from him as much as I could. I love the tiny little adjustment he made on my breathing exercise, because it made a world of difference. I am curious to see its effects over time. What I was truly grateful for from this experience was that he emphasized the necessity to do this every day after such a cleansing. I really believe in multiple, multiple ways to do cleansings to your self and your aura, which in and of itself could require a textbook, and I was reminded of this being such a great way to eliminate things in your own way.
I was also hugely grateful for this because I have been telling Al for months to do at least one breathing exercise a day every day, and I love the tiny lesson he gave. I know for me, this particular breathing exercise gives me the SPACE I need within myself to know my fear-based, egotistical thoughts that are stemming from an enlarged amygdala (fear center of your brain), and gives me the presence of mind to know that THOSE THOUGHTS ARE NOT ME.
They are thoughts I am choosing to have.
I cannot confuse the two.
It’s ok if I do once in a while, but the beauty of diligent, focused, practice (abhyasa) is that every 12-24 hours I give myself my OWN reminder that everything is ok, there is clear space and clarity in my life, and as life and nature spirals around me in all of it’s cycles and ebs and flows that I can be my own rock and be unaffected by those chaotic things.
I can exist amidst chaos as the worlds most peaceful little rock.
Observation is powerful. It is from stillness where we take our greatest actions.
I remember from my days of running track and field as a sprinter, the SCARIEST PART of my races was my wait in my starting blocks.
Once the gun went off, so did my body, and my brain left.
After the gun went off, I was running on pure heart, soul, and intuition, the results of DILIGENT PRACTICE. In this case, specifically track practice. But all empowering practices are the kinds you should invite into your life.
Also, in regards to track and field, I began practicing yoga as a result of sprinting training, and one of the most powerful things I learned was what Bachman writes about in this chapter: “…the ability to separate yourself from what you are involved in and to observe a situation or event from a distance allows you to put what you perceive in the proper perspective.”
As I got deeper into my track and field practice, I realized I let all the bullshit floating around me to pass right through me, and it left my sparkling energetically because I was blissfully unaffected by it, I STARTED WINNING. A LOT. And, the best part, was that it wasn’t necessarily the wins that brought me joy, it was the fact that I was sprinting from my heart, and that every track meet I was beating personal records, which meant I was getting faster, which meant I was becoming happier, which meant I was going to continue succeeding and living that truth I was meant to live at that time in my life. I experience this same thing now with my businesses: writing, running a yoga company, running a coffee company, and all the other wonderful things that are coming to fruition as a result of all of those endeavors.
To me, this is what samyoga is speaking of. Disentangle yourself from the bullshit and connect with what is truly pure on the inside of yourself: your own personal empowerment, ambition through loving and joyful creation, and the connection you have to all living things in this UNIVERSE. This all is glowing from your personal purusa, that is there for you at all times, because it connects you with the universal Isvara, the Source of Knowledge, that permeates all things.
“Once you recognize your divine inner nature as a permanent light of awareness around which all else changes, then the false super-imposition of samyoga (confusion of heart-mind with the ever-changing world of mother nature) disappears.”
Read that quoted sentence again.
Read it three more times.
Write it down.
Post it in an obvious place in your home where you can be reminded.
You are a constant light that never changes that shines for the ENTIRE world to see.
Once you connect to your own inner light of awareness, you give permission for everyone else to do the same.
An unbiased yet well-informed perspective is the best way to understand any situation.
I can recognize when I am too involved in a situation to perceive it clearly and fairly.
I will strive to step back and discriminate between impermanent, changing events and the eternal, inner light of awareness.