By: Loren Abrams
“But the disciplined (lower) Self, moving among sense-objects with senses free from attraction and repulsion and mastered by the Higher Self, goeth to Peace.” (Gita, II-64)
This idea of two currents of the mind, one driving me towards things and the other away from things, is a concept I have worked long to try and gain some understanding. I have spoken to my yoga teachers, spiritual advisors, my therapist, my parents, and read books all in the pursuit of understanding my minds insatiable motor. Never at peace, rarely at rest. Most of my teachers have asked me to attend to this area as they felt once I gained some perspective about the polarities of: LIKE vs DISLIKE, PLEASURE vs PAIN, EXHILARATION vs DEPRESSION, LOVE vs HATRED, I would find some PEACE as the Bhagavad Gita states above.
I remember speaking to a teacher a number of years ago. She wanted me to find a space in life where I wasn’t running. She brought up a term we all have heard, she asked me to become CENTERED. This word at the time was just that, a word. I had no practice to achieve this. She coupled that word with CONTENTMENT. She told me that if I could include more moments of centeredness in my life, these push and pull energies that had been negatively affecting my life to this point, would begin to serve me. I had no idea of what she was teaching me at the time. But I believe she was referring to this concept of Raga and Devesha.
I later learned the concept of true self, the WATCHER. And I have been trying to cultivate that aspect of my being over the last few years as I became immersed in the yoga world as a teacher and healer. Teaching and healing people daily required that I practice this skill. Meditation and Pranayama, learning to breathe in a rhythm that relaxed my mind and quieted my thoughts. Allowed me refuge from my “MONKEY MIND” and access to my true self (my spiritual higher self). I actually started to feel more centered through practice. I had more energy to do the things I wanted to do.
My study of these concepts has flourished by teaching others. My student and I discussed this concept this week. And she reminded me of the following experience she had with her asana practice :
I love headstand. I mean, to me, headstand equaled advanced yoga practitioner. Never mind that almost every eight year old I know can do one. All I wanted was to do a headstand – that would make me a yogi. I thought of myself as a devoted yoga student and not an obsessed lunatic. Even though my back was stiff, my shoulders were tight and my hips needed serious work I practiced nothing but headstand. When I finally achieved a proper headstand, it felt so good it was all I wanted to do – literally. Some people identify themselves by their occupations, their large homes, their families. For me, it was headstand. Then, the worst thing happened. I fell on the way to work and got a concussion. No headstand for a month. At first I was miserable. But something else happened too. I started to understand how attached I was to the idea of the importance of doing a particular pose and how delusional that was. In fact, I was the opposite of an advanced yoga practitioner. I still enjoy being upside down; but am not obsessed with it. My teacher says be the watcher. So I watch, I feel and I breathe (the best I can anyway). This is how I am trying to master attachment and aversion. I have a feeling, like everything else in yoga, it is the work of a lifetime.
I am going to agree with my student that I will be working on this concept for the rest of my life. But I rest easy in the knowledge that I am now able to find this wonderful space inside me; when I slow down my breathing and allow my focus to go deep inside. I can take a break and assess the current push and pulls in my life as they are ever changing. And then direct my energy in line with my higher self not the fluctuations of my mind.