It seems the human mind has an aversion to the here and now. We spend an enormous amount of time thinking about everything except what it is we’re actually doing. When we eat, our minds wander. When we’re doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, or talking with a friend, our minds wander. We think about the past or the future and not about what’s happening right now, right in front of ourselves. Our mind, our consciousness, doesn’t seem to want to behave and pay attention. This is why many people find meditation so hard to do. In meditation we concentrate on one thing. Often, people concentrate on the breath. The slow inhalation and exhalation of our breath is something constant that we don’t need to think much about. It just happens. This is why the breath is a good focus for our attention during meditation. Why then, is it so damn hard to do? Because our minds have an aversion to the here and now.
I’m reading a book called, “The Wisdom Of Yoga,” by Stephen Cope. A few weeks ago I decided that I would learn Yoga as a way to help, along with my weight loss, to regain some physical fitness. I found that Yoga is not just doing a bunch of physical poses, but it is in fact a whole system of thought, much like Buddhism. The Yoga Sutra, written presumably by someone named Pantanjali describes an entire way of life, lived by Indian Yogis as far back as 3 to 4 hundred BCE. This is why Yogis are called Yogi. They practiced Yoga. Simple enough. I never knew this, and I suspect many others don’t know it either.
I have studied Buddhism over the years, and like and adhere to many of the concepts. The thing about Yoga that really interests me is the complete lack of a central figure to edify or deify. There is no “Buddha” in Yoga. There is no figure such as Jesus, or Mohamed or Jim Jones, for that matter. No one to edify, or raise above oneself, no one to praise or look up to. That in itself, is very attractive to me. Yoga is simply a system, or set of instructions if you will, on how to realize self awareness. How to calm the rambling mind, how to control your consciousness and thereby open yourself to a much larger world of self realization, self awareness, and self control.
One of the things that Yoga teaches is the aversion to the here and now. The author describes a situation where a person in meditating and their mind keeps wandering. Their consciousness is thinking about other things than the object (the breath) of their meditation. Suddenly the person is alerted to the fact that their mind is wandering and they come back to the breath. The author says, if your conscious self is thinking about something other than what you want it to, how do you then realize that you’re doing it? What or who alerts you to the fact that your mind is wandering? It’s almost as if someone is watching. Some one or some thing, almost like an alien presence is keeping track of your mind. Who is it? The author says your consciousness is just the surface of your mind. It’s the place where we spend most of our time. Our minds, our true minds are much deeper and broader than that. When our mind is wandering when we are trying to not let it wander and we suddenly realize this, we are coming in contact with our true self. Consciousness is like the clothes our minds wear (my description). Our true selves are somewhere underneath our consciousness. And like clothes hide our bodies, our consciousness hides our true mind. Yoga is a way to connect with your true self. Who knew?
So I will see where this leads. I’m always one for learning new things, and lately it’s been Yoga, I still do meditation and I may try mantra practice. Going deeper into my own mind seems like a worthy cause. Any way I can to get to know myself better, is the right thing for me.