It is so easy to get caught up in the dramas of life. We hear a story, a news report, a piece of gossip and we get so involved in it. We share it. Talk about it. Think constantly about it. It could also disturb us. Make us angry or make us cry.
Some thoughts are so hard to shake and they stay with us for our entire life time! Usually these thoughts are around hurt, regret or sadness/loss.
Yoga is defined at the beginning of the yoga sutras as as the calming of the fluctuations of the mind.
And when these fluctuations are controlled and still, it is then that one sees things for what they truly are.
Yoga is a state of equanimity where one is able to see things for what they truly are, not what we think they should be.
It is about being in the world but not part of the world.
It is about being calm around the chaos.
The yogi is also able to avoid getting caught up in the drama and chaos of life or gossip but rather sees things from an observer point of view.
Almost like standing back and watching the drama go by, but not actually being part of it.
I have heard this yogic state described once as “conscious witness”.
The yogi is conscious and aware of what is happening. They are a witness to the events or thoughts. But in this state, the yogi is not immersed in it. They are more like a witness.
The yogi observes the thoughts come and go but she doesn’t get caught up in them. The thoughts come in as easily as they go out. Without holding onto them.
It is like being on a train. The train is traveling a certain direction and stops at different stations. No sooner it has stopped, it leaves again.
This is like the thoughts. They enter and then they exit. Before you know it, that thought has disappeared and the next one has entered.
Some liken it to a wave or learning to surf. You can’t stop the waves (the thoughts), but you can learn to surf. Which means you can learn to control the thoughts.
So how do you learn to control the thoughts?
Patanjali says it’s through a consistent yoga and meditation practice.
Like anything, practice makes progress.
The more often we do it, the better we get at it.
A short daily mediation is very effective in doing a mental clean out.
It doesn’t need to be fancy, long or complicated.
Find a comfortable seat. On a chair with your feet flat or seated on the floor in hero pose or cross legged on a bolster or cushion.
Set the timer on your phone for 10mins to start with (maybe even 5mins if 10mins seems daunting or too long).
Ensure your spine is long and shoulders relaxed.
Take a deep inhalation and sigh the breath out through the mouth.
Loosen the jaw and facial muscles.
Gently close the eyes.
Focus on your inhale and exhale. You can say the word inhale and exhale internally as you breathe.
Simple and manageable.
Daily for 5-10mins to start with.
Perhaps extend to 15-20mins once you have got the hang of it.
It’s a great mental clean out!
Allow any outside distractions to pass by. Become a conscious witness 🙂 you know it’s all there happening, but witness it from afar. Observe it. Let it go and focus on your breath.
Amidst the chaos of the mind.