“You are not a being, you are a trembling; a continuous hectic activity. Patanjali’s asanas, postures, are concerned not really with any kind of physiological training, but an inner training of being, just to be; without doing anything, without any movement, without any activity, just remain. That remaining will help centering.” – Osho
How many of us go to a yoga class every week and think that because we can stand on our heads, or put our legs behind our necks, that we have ‘mastered’ yoga. What a farce! It is absolutely laughable, the ways the ego can trick us into thinking we are now ‘on top of something.’ It can even use the practice meant to dissolve the ego as a means to bolster it.
As anyone who has tried to sit still, even for a few moments, can attest, it is excruciatingly difficult. It doesn’t matter how many sun salutations you can practice or how strong and flexible you are. If you can’t sit with stillness in your body, then your mind is not still either; that, my friend, is the entire point of practicing yoga.
When we try to sit in stillness, inevitably, we will come face to face with the many ways our minds keep us busy. In a yoga class recently, a student of mine asked me to work with her on seated lotus position (padmasana). She was having a difficult time sitting up straight when she tried to meditate, and thought, therefore, that she was doing it wrong. I chuckled kind-heartedly and told her, ‘no, you’re doing it exactly right. Sitting erect is the least of your worries.” She looked oddly at me and said, “what?!”
I offered that as soon as you start to sit for any length of time, that your body would naturally start to cave in on itself; your hips will feel achy or your fingertips will feel sweaty (can fingertips feel sweaty?!). You will feel like there are ants crawling up your thighs. But when you look down to brush them away, nothing will be there. It is absolutely unnerving to realize that your body will go into a full-on revolt the minute you try to sit still.
A disciple of yoga is one who is able to gather discipline. This discipline is what keeps you sitting even when you want to get up and run around in circles like a caged animal set free; or meditate on days when you feel tired, knowing that you will probably nod off, and just doing it anyway. Discipline is what allows you to sit in meditation even though you may never keep a straight spine for more than two seconds, let alone the three hours which are the purported length advanced yogis practice meditation in order to reach more enlightened states of consciousness.
Osho tells us, “This non-moving posture is not a physiological training only. It is just to create a situation in which centering can happen, in which you can become disciplined. When you are, when you have become centered, when you know what it means to be, then you can learn, because then you will be humble. Then you can surrender. No false ego will cling to you because once centered you know all egos are false. Then you can bow down.”
The word sadhana, used by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras, is a Sanskrit term meaning, “ a means of accomplishing something.” Our bondage as an egoic being must be broken through. Ironically it isn’t done through action, but through a state of be-ing. Once we are a be-ing, we are no longer a slave to this closed condition of mind.
Abhyasa is another term often used in conjunction with sadhana. It is regular and spiritual practice over a long period of time in order to control the mind. Your spiritual practice is not necessarily agreeing with your friends about which religion is above another. Your spiritual practice is be-ing. Try that, and notice how challenging it is. It is more difficult for most of us than running two marathons back to back. It is seemingly more difficult than almost any physical act you can imagine. Ironically once we clear out whatever Sisyphian boulders we are pushing up the hill, it is so much easier to live.
No matter what you are trying to accomplish in your life, it will take discipline, but probably not the type you would think. Your discipline, or practice is to just be. Just sit with who you are right now and see what arises. Don’t run. Don’t hide from yourself. Observe what is and allow the real you to filter through the dross.
About the Author
Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer. She channels many hours of studying Lao Tzu, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rob Brezny, Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World.
pic credit: http://www.mbergt.com/images/paintings/sleeping.jpg