By: Suzanne Scholten
“Ardent effort to retain the peaceful flow of mind free of roaming tendencies is abhyasa.” Sutra 1.13
Students often ask, what do you mean by a home practice, what should I be doing? In college I ran a marathon and I created a practice schedule that consisted of a daily warm-up and stretching, alternate-day weightlifting, and different running workouts and a cool down. To assist in minimizing injuries, every other day I did pool workouts and kick boxing. I would take one day off to go for long walks and visualize the 9-minute mile pace and my finishing time. I kept my eye on the prize.
In yoga, the practice is whatever helps one attain the goal: to settle the mind stuff. In the yoga sutras, Patanjali gives us a roadmap of the human consciousness and what holds us back from the prize. There are five afflictions. I will share two: ignorance and the sense of I-am-ness. We pour ourselves into many things: busy-ness, taking care of others, or spending hours in leisure. Then we forget to fill back up with who we truly are, that Divine teacher of luminous peace and joy. But the daily practice quenches the desire of thirst, our physical, mental and spiritual need. This can be done on a mat, with other people, or while alone. It can mean moving, sitting and using japa meditation, breath work, chanting, scripture-reading, eliminating TV or use of electronics, or paying attention to sleep and eating habits. For some the goal of Samadhi may come faster than others and for some it may take a long time, maybe many lives, but we need to keep our eye on the prize.
This month, take the practice home with you. Explore what this means to you; what is your practice to connect to that luminous joy and feel the sensation of vitality?