Do we need to restrict or limit ourselves in social interactive conversation and activities when we take up yoga practice?
It depends on ourselves. Just like being a vegetarian or non-vegetarian doesn’t guarantee that one is peaceful and be free from ignorance and egoism, it’s the same as by observing any forms of yoga practice doesn’t guarantee that one will be free from ignorance and egoism, and is peaceful.
Of course all the observations exist to serve their purposes or assistance in aid to purify and calm the mind, to allow the mind to be able to perceive the truth of things as they are.
Without the practice of non-attachment, non-identification, desireless, and letting go of craving and aversion, one’s mind will always be affected, or disturbed, or influenced and determined by all the perceptions of names and forms, and is restless and have no peace, no matter how much external physical form of yoga practices we have been performing and attaining huge physical and mental benefits from the yoga practice. When the mind is restless and is under the influence of impurities, the mind is not able to see the truth of things as they are.
If we just want to practice yoga for attaining some physical and mental health and fitness benefits, then we don’t have to restrict or limit ourselves in social interactive conversation and activities.
If we practice yoga for mind conquest, for liberation to be free from ignorance and suffering, then we need to restrict or limit ourselves in social interactive conversation and activities, if our minds are easily being affected, or disturbed, or influenced by all the inputs of names and forms. For those who have achieved a strong foundation of the practice of non-attachment and non-identification, and are not easily be affected, or disturbed, or influenced by all the inputs of names and forms, then there’s no need to have such restriction, but they will still limit over stimulation to the mind as much as possible. Those who are completely be free from ignorance and egoism, and they are unaffected, or undisturbed, or uninfluenced by any inputs of names and forms, then they can mix freely into the society and engage in any forms of social conversations and activities, if they want, but they don’t have to, unless it’s necessary.
And hence, silent meditation retreat courses exist to serve this purpose to quiet the mind, to stop stimulating the mind, to move the mind away from worldly affairs, social interactions and activities. But, if we don’t know how to retreat ourselves in everyday life, our minds will always be restless being distracted and stimulated by all the inputs of names and forms.
In most conversations, many people like to ask or want to know about the past and the future. Most people want to be friendly by starting a social interactive conversation, where they want to talk about themselves and also to hear other people talk about their stuffs, they want to give their opinions and also to hear other people’s opinions, they want to know about other people and want to be known by other people as well.
There’s nothing wrong with the worldly social interactions between human beings. But in yoga practice, it’s about knowing oneself. It’s not about knowing other people or want to be known by other people. Minds that are conditioned by worldly thinking and ideas might think that it’s a form of selfishness when some people don’t show interest to know about others. But in yoga, one practices disinterest in worldly affairs as well as other people’s affair. It isn’t that yoga practitioners don’t care for what is happening to the world and other people, but one must take care of one’s mind first before one can care for the world and others efficiently.
When one’s mind is free from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, desires, craving, aversion and all sorts of impurities, and realizes unconditional love and peace in oneself, being firmly resting in peace undisturbed by all the qualities of names and forms, then naturally, without any intention or expectation, one will be contributing peace into the world by stop generating unrest and disharmony into the world. By taking care of oneself, to have peace in oneself, is actually loving and caring for the world and the society.
One must learn about oneself and know about oneself by quieting and purifying the mind through self-introspection and self-discipline, and then one will know how to love and care for oneself, before one can actually know about others, and love and care for others. The entire society will become more peaceful and harmony when everyone learns about oneself, knows oneself, and loves and cares for oneself.
On top of that, socializing, mingling and chit-chatting are good for worldly social interaction and public relation, but it is detrimental for yoga and meditation practice. Too much talking and social activities stimulate the thought waves and strengthens the worldly attachments, identifications and ideas, and empowering the desires of craving and aversion, if one hasn’t developed certain degrees of correct understanding about the mind, the ego and suffering.
We can list out what people usually talk about in a social conversation, and see how much our minds are being influenced and affected by all those daily conversations about worldly matters. And we might realize what is the cause for our minds being over stimulated and suffer from restlessness, and from where we have been accumulating lots of physical, emotional and mental tension that we need to de-stress or unwind ourselves from time to time. If we know how to stop generating tension into our body and mind, we don’t need to do anything special to unwind or relax.
Instead of exhausting energy in socializing or talking about worldly ideas and affairs, we conserve energy for practicing yoga. Talking about worldly ideas and affairs won’t help anyone to be free from worldly identifications and attachments towards worldly names and forms, and won’t make the world to be a better place. In fact, talking about this and that will stimulate the mind, and it doesn’t help to quiet the mind. Yoga and meditation practice is mainly to quiet the mind. The states of the world will change towards peace and harmony only if each and everyone who are existing and living in the world has self-awareness and self-control, to make an effort to change themselves to purify and quiet their minds, to be free from ignorance and egoism. The world is just what it is. It is neither good nor bad. It’s the occupants of the world that are projecting good and bad qualities into the world and contributing peace or unrest into the world under the influence of impurities. The one who is pure, being free from good and bad qualities, perceives the world as it is.
Yoga teaches about compassion, but it’s not about trying to please everyone to make them feel good, happy and comfortable, by giving them whatever they like and want. But it’s to allow everyone to be aware of what is going on in their minds, and realize the truth to be free from ignorance, and transcend suffering, realize unconditional love and peace that is not coming from anyone or anything outside this body and mind, but from within oneself unconditionally.
We learn to stay away from gossips, vain talks, conflicts, condemn, criticism, back-biting, and etc. When we have bad things to say about others, it’s not because others are being bad and wrong, but it’s because our minds are not pure. If our minds are pure, there’s no bad thing to say about others, even if we are aware of something that isn’t good and right about someone based on what our minds believe as good and bad, right and wrong. Worldly minded people might think that being silence towards things that are bad and wrong is supporting all those bad and wrong things. But, what people think and believe as good and bad, right and wrong, is very subjective, it’s not necessarily the truth of what things are. By being vocally and physically violent towards something that is bad and wrong won’t change the reality of those things being bad and wrong. But everyone must develop self-awareness and self-introspection in themselves to be aware of their own minds, to be initiative to make an effort to purify their own minds, to have self-discipline to restrict their physical and mental worldly activities, and have self-control over their own thinking, actions and speech.
By telling people that they are ignorant or wrong and bad, won’t make people stop being ignorant or wrong and bad. It has to come from their own self-awareness, self-introspection, self-discipline and self-control.
For many people, being direct and straightforward might be seen as bad attitude or weakness for social interaction in the society. Some people are always being friendly, polite and nice in front of some other people, but they can’t hold their tongues to complain and criticize about other people behind their backs. Of course that’s their freedom of thoughts, actions and speech. But, if we want to purify and silent our minds, we try to stay away from this type of mind habit of hypocrisy and back-biting as much as possible.
We purify our minds until there’s no ill-will or ill-thinking about anyone. There’s nothing to complain about or criticize anyone whether in front or behind their backs. When we criticize about others, it’s not because others are bad and wrong, or when we compliment others, it’s not because others are good and right, but it’s our mind being impure and project impurities of good and bad qualities onto everyone and everything that our minds perceive through the senses, under the influence of personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements based on what our egoistic minds believe what things are.
Quieting the mind.