Thursday, December 20, 2012

Practicing Yoga Pradipika Style: Concentration

49. Freeing the mind from all thoughts and thinking of nothing, one should sit firmly like a pot in the space (surrounded and filled with the ether).

50. As with air, in and out of the body, remains unmoved, so the breath with mind becomes steady in its place (i.e., in Brahma randhra).

51. By thus practicing, night and day, the breathing is brought under control, and, as the practice increases, the mind becomes calm and steady.

Hatha Yoga Padiprika, Chapter 4

I was talking to a student after class letting her know how much she has improved and how well she has been doing in class. She appeared to be frustrated so when I asked her what was bothering her she said that during the final meditation (which had gone on longer that usual in this particular class) she had felt very focused and calm until right at the end when suddenly all these thoughts flooded her mind interrupting her meditation. She was so upset that she became distracted during her meditation that she lost all focus for the rest of the practice. 

So I asked her about the thoughts that had kept popping up. "Well at work today there was this big mess with the system that no one could figure out. We all stayed late trying every possible solution, but nothing worked. Just now while I was sitting there, I figured it out and it was so easy that I was mad I didn't figure it out before."

That's how it can be with meditation sometimes. The mind can be all over the place and it takes time to train it to remain calm and steady. Yet, we have to allow that when the mind learns to be calm that that's when we will start to experience a new found focus. During class this student didn't realize that she had attained focus which was why she was suddenly able to solve the unsolvable work crisis.

This is the part that can be confusing. We want to clear the mind of all thoughts and distractions. The purpose of this, though, is to develop the focus we need to see clearly with the third eye. In our multi-tasking world it's really hard to bring the mind to stillness. Sometimes it can be like making a two year old sit still after she has drunk a cup of soda. The practice of asana with meditation brings us back to a place of stillness. That stillness helps us gain perspective. This is where problems are solved, ideas manifest, and the self is found.

So don't be frustrated if your meditation is interrupted. Just notice the thoughts, and if they are important right now, then let yourself bring the focus back to your breath. Keep on Breathing on!

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