Purifying, calming and quieting the restless mind efficiently

All the different forms of external yoga practice must be accompanied by the internal yoga practice of annihilating egoism of attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, supported by the internal mental strength, flexibility and stamina of patience, perseverance, determination, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation and accommodation, as well as cultivating the essential tools for self-inquiry and self-realization, such as awareness, dispassion, desireless, renunciation, self-discipline, self-reliance, seclusion, solitude, care-free, fearlessness and equanimity, to be efficiently purifying, calming and quieting the impure egoistic restless mind, to prepare the mind for spontaneous meditation into Silence (complete annihilation of the mind/birthlessness and deathlessness/attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness/oneness or non-separateness).

Even if one’s physical body is unable to perform any external yoga practice, it doesn’t stop the mind from performing internal yoga practice to annihilate egoism, impurities and restlessness, and be free.

Without the internal yoga practice of annihilating egoism and impurities which is nothing to do with the impermanent and selfless physical and mental condition, ability and limitation, the mind will always be disturbed by the mind perception of names and forms of all kinds of pleasant and unpleasant, desirable and undesirable, agreeable and disagreeable life experiences, where there’s clinging and craving towards pleasant/desirable/agreeable experiences and aversion towards unpleasant/undesirable/disagreeable experiences, even after many years and huge amount of external yoga practice that one has been performing or many years of teaching yoga and meditation practice to many other people, and getting all the momentary effects and benefits from the regular external form of yoga practice.

The mind might be rendered calm and quiet momentarily during and after all those external yoga and meditation practice, but it doesn’t last long, as very soon, the mind would unwittingly slip back into restlessness due to the stubborn egoistic mind habits of chasing after the objects of the senses, worldly enjoyments and stimulation, passionate desires of worldly and/or spiritual aspirations and ambitions, worldly social interactions and activities, and the ceaseless impurities generated through countless actions and reactions towards the mind perceptions of names and forms due to egoism of attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, where the mind is restless most of the time, even if the mind can attain certain degrees of relief from restlessness for a short period of time during deep sleep state, or during and after the different forms of external yoga practice.

By freeing the mind from egoism would allow the mind to be undetermined or undisturbed by the mind perception of names and forms, of quality and duality, or the good and bad/positive and negative/pleasant and unpleasant/desirable and undesirable life experiences, that allow the mind to be free from impurities and restlessness thoroughly.

And hence, the importance of the practice of silence for those who truly want to conquer the restless modification of the mind, to attain Silence.

After some time of practicing some kind of yoga and meditation practice regularly, one needs to perform self-introspection, “Is the mind still being determined or affected by the impermanent and selfless physical and mental condition, ability and limitation, as well as the worldly affairs, relationship, friendship, social activities and interactions, and worldly and/or spiritual achievements and acknowledgements to feel good, confident and meaningful, or not?” and “Is the mind still being determined by duality of good and bad/positive and negative/right and wrong/meaningfulness and meaninglessness/happiness and unhappiness, or all the mind perceptions of different qualities of names and forms, to feel good, positive, rightful, joyful and meaningful, or not?” or “Is the mind still being disturbed by what the mind thinks and believes as bad, wrong, negative, unhappiness and hurtful?” If the answer is yes, it means the mind is still not free, even if one has been performing yoga practice for a long time, or possessing many ‘yoga certifications’, and believing in ‘goodness’, ‘righteousness’ and ‘positiveness’.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want and don’t want to practice.

Advertisements

Take good care of everything to appreciate everything, but without fear of losing anything

Non-attachment doesn’t mean that we don’t take good care of anything. We take good care of everything – life, the body and the mind, the environment, the house, the relationships, the family, the world, and etc, to appreciate everything that we think is good – good life, good condition, good health, good experiences, good feelings, good environment, good living area, good relationships, good family, good situation of the world, and etc, but without attachment towards everything and without fear of losing anything that we think is good.

When we perform the yoga poses, we pay maximum attention, be vigilant and take care while coming into the poses, while holding or staying in the poses and while coming out or releasing from the poses, in a relaxed manner, without tension of fear, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison, or expectation.

It’s about relaxing the body into the postures without forcing or struggling, and quieting the restless worldly egoistic judgmental and expectational mind that keeps judging its performance and expecting certain results from all its effort to perform certain actions. There is minimum risk of injury, even if one couldn’t execute the yoga poses in so called ‘correct or perfect alignment’ due to certain limitation, if one knows how to relax while performing the yoga asana practice, and respecting the impermanent condition, ability and limitation of the body as it is, without forcing or pushing the body to go beyond its limitation. The risk of injury will still be there, even if one knows how to perform all the yoga asana poses in so called ‘correct or perfect alignment’, if one performs the yoga asana practice under the influence of ignorance and egoism, full of tension of judgment, comparison and expectation, and doesn’t respect the condition, ability and limitation of the body as it is, by forcing or pushing the body to go beyond its limitation. The body and the mind is not able to be relaxed due to trying to comply to the standard of ‘correct or perfect alignment’.

It’s really not important whether the body can perform all or some or none of the yoga poses. One doesn’t need to be able to do any yoga poses at all to free the mind from ignorance and egoism and suffering. Being able to perform many of the yoga poses in ‘perfect alignment’ regularly for a long time also doesn’t guarantee that one is practicing yoga or is free from ignorance and egoism. The yoga asana practice is just one of the tools to help to influence the state of the mind, to balance the mind, to quiet the mind, to prepare the mind for meditation. If one doesn’t know how to let go of the ego and egoism, and is full of passionate desires of craving and aversion, then even if one has been doing yoga asana practice in ‘perfect alignment’ for many many years and attained all kinds of health and fitness benefits from the regular yoga asana practice, but the mind is not free from suffering being disturbed and determined by all the perceptions of qualities of names and forms.

In the process of performing the yoga poses, it’s mainly about letting go the ego and egoism of attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, judgement, comparison and expectation, to renounce the actions and the fruit of actions, to realize the truth of impermanence and selflessness of the life existence of the body and mind, to allow the restless mind to be free from restlessness, to be in silence. It’s nothing to do with how ‘good’ the body can do the yoga poses, or how many yoga poses the body can perform in ‘perfect alignment’, or not.

Perform all the yoga poses in a relaxed manner and accepting the body as it is, without forcing the body to go beyond its limitation, without judgment, comparison and expectation. There’s no need to think about how one should look or feel in the yoga poses because everyone has a different body and limitation, and everyone might look and feel differently while performing the same poses. And how we look and feel in the yoga poses is impermanent because the physical ability and limitation will change from moment to moment. We don’t have to look like other people, or the teacher. The body might feel strong, flexible, light and comfortable in one practice, and it might feel weak, stiffed, heavy and discomfortable in another practice performing the same poses or exercises.

It’s the same as in life, we are aware of the existence of certain risks, we pay maximum attention, be vigilant and take care while performing any tasks, in a relaxed manner, without tension of fear, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison, or expectation.

If there’s something we need to deal with in the present, we do our best to deal with it instantly in a relaxed manner, without fear. If we can’t or don’t know how to handle it, we let it be and take it as it is, without fear. There are things that we can do and there are things that we can’t do, and it’s okay. And what we can do or cannot do in the present, is impermanent.

Be free.

Root out the root cause of suffering – ignorance and egoism

No doubt that by doing some yoga asana and pranayama practice regularly can gives some momentary effects of calmness, relaxation, pleasant sensations, good feelings, and many health and fitness benefits to the practitioner, but, it doesn’t stop one’s mind from being influenced, or disturbed, or determined by all the perceptions of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses based on what the ego likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, wants and doesn’t want under the influence of a particular worldly egoistic thinking and belief, if one doesn’t work on the annihilation of ignorance by eliminating the ego and egoism of attachment, identification, and desire of craving and aversion.

The ego is the idea of ‘I’ exists as an individual being that identifies with and attaches onto particular worldly egoistic thinking and belief, culture, family brought up, education system, accumulated knowledge and life experiences, the actions and the result of actions, duties, responsibilities, achievements, contributions, family ties, friends and social circle, relationships, personality, interest and liking, social identity and image, personal identity and image, physical appearance, physical and mental condition and ability, gender, and so on, to be ‘I’.

Those who have strong attachment and identification with particular worldly thinking and belief and all kinds of qualities of names and forms might have been practicing yoga asana and pranayama practice for many years, but due to the worldly attachment and identification, they might still be influenced, be disturbed, and be determined by all the perception of names and forms, and feel dissatisfied, or disappointed, or offended, or hurt by the names and forms that the ego doesn’t like, doesn’t agree with and doesn’t want, if they didn’t work on eliminating the egoism (the fuel that feeds ignorance) and the annihilation of ignorance.

Attending yoga asana and pranayama classes for many years regularly doesn’t guarantee that one is free from being disturbed by the by-products of ignorance and egoism – the ceaseless reactions of impurities of dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, lust, pride, arrogance, offensiveness, defensiveness, feelings of hurt, guilt, regrets, fear and worry, and so on. The mind is restless, swaying between the calmness effect of the yoga asana and pranayama practice and the disturbance of the ceaseless egoistic reactions of impurities.

The ego also constantly looking for love, attention, affection, connection, companionship, sense of belonging, accomplishment, acceptance, respect, agreement, acknowledgment, approval, support, liking and compliment to feel ‘I’ exist, ‘I’ am somebody, ‘I’ am loved, ‘I’ am good, ‘I’ am right, ‘I’ am confident, ‘I’ am happy, ‘I’ am complete, or ‘I’ am meaningful. Root out this ego, one will be free and peaceful as one is.

If the mind is not free from ignorance and egoism, everyone will keep hurting oneself and others out of selfish desires and impurities, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Everyone is looking for ‘love’ and they frequently fall in love with something or someone, but then, out of ignorance and egoism, they keep hurting the thing or person that they think they ‘loved’ very much. It’s all about ‘me’, ‘my feelings’, ‘my happiness’, and what ‘I’ like and what ‘I’ want. When we don’t get what we like and want, and we are getting what we don’t like and don’t want, we will feel disappointed and dissatisfied, and we will hurt anything and everyone, including ourselves. There’s no love. Just possessiveness. To possess something or someone to make us feel good and meaningful about ourselves, to be existing. When our desires or wishes are not being gratified, we feel disturbed, dissatisfied, disappointed, hurt, angry and unhappy. We don’t love anything or anyone, not even ourselves.

One will only know what is love and how to love, when the mind is free from ignorance and egoism.

Yoga practice about the annihilation of ignorance and egoism to transcend suffering, is universal. It is beyond all the different qualities of names and forms.

It doesn’t matter whether we have a religious belief and practice and believe in God, or not. It doesn’t matter we eat vegetarian food or non-vegetarian food. It doesn’t matter we think we are good or bad. It doesn’t matter how long we have been practicing yoga and meditation. As long as the mind is functioning under the influence of ignorance and egoism, the mind will perceive suffering and has no peace. The mind will always be disturbed and determined by the qualities of names and forms (mind perceptions of everything and all kinds of life experiences) that the ego doesn’t like, doesn’t agree with and doesn’t want.

It’s everyone’s freedom whether they want to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, or not, or they just want to attain the momentary effects of calmness, relaxation, pleasant sensations, good feelings, and health and fitness benefits from doing the yoga asana and pranayama practice. There’s no right or wrong, no good or bad. It’s just what everyone wants to do with their life, their body and mind.

Be free.

The advantage of silent meditation in stillness immediately after the yoga asana practice

All the different yoga practices exist to allow the living beings that function under the limited and conditioned mind perception of names and forms to be free from ignorance and all its by-products of egoism, attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison, expectation, and impurities of lust, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, agitation, depression, defensiveness, offensiveness, possessiveness, frustration, irritation, fear, worry, sorrow, grief and restlessness. All these defilement are not separated from suffering.

Whether the beings will be liberated from suffering, or not, it’s up to the beings themselves whether they are determined to be free from suffering, and whether they are persistent to purify and quiet the mind to inquire into the truth of names and forms, to be free from ignorance and all the by-products of ignorance.

No doubt that the body and the mind will feel good after doing some forms of yoga practice (yoga asana, pranayama, chanting, kirtan, japa, concentration, relaxation, and etc) that serve the purpose of influencing the energy field or the states of the mind, mainly to balance and calming the restless mind, and to divert the mind away from worldly ideas, affairs and activities, to allow the mind to have a few moments of concentration and quietness. These precious few moments of the concentration and quietness of the mind is the best opportunity for further meditation in stillness.

The good feelings of the body and mind after doing some forms of yoga practice is impermanent and is not the goal of the yoga practice. People might mistake the concentration of the mind while doing some forms of physical movements and yoga poses as meditation. No doubt that concentration is the key that leads to meditation, but it is not meditation. In meditation, the mind goes beyond the body consciousness of pleasantness and unpleasantness. Time and space and causation doesn’t exist in meditation. There is no interaction with the world. That is beyond the mind is being in a state of concentration and being aware of pleasantness or unpleasantness while doing the yoga asana poses.

Yoga asana and pranayama practice serves the purpose of influencing the mind to render the mind calm and quiet and focus to prepare the mind for meditation, but in meditation practice, it doesn’t involve any actions to influence the mind, but it is to allow the mind to stand as a witness being aware of the reality and allowing the reality in the present moment to be what it is and allowing it to change as it is, without trying to interfere with the different states of the mind, without trying to change the reality into something different from what it is, without attachment, identification, judgment, expectation, craving and aversion. There’s not even an existence of ‘I’ to be identifying as “I am meditating.”

People are too busy with worldly life affairs and social activities. Many people devote some time to attend ‘yoga classes’ to do some yoga asana exercises, and their body and mind might feel good after that, but not many people would take the advantage or make use of the calmed and concentrated state of the mind derived from the yoga asana practice to meditate in stillness of thought, action and speech immediately after the yoga asana practice. People would give themselves reasonable excuse that there is something else that is more important that they need to attend or do immediately after the yoga class. Some said that “I like to meditate in motion while doing the yoga exercises or while being in the yoga asana poses, and meditation is not just limited to sitting quietly, and so, I don’t need to sit quietly for further meditation.”

It is true that meditation is not just about sitting quietly, it’s about the ability of being aware of the reality in the present moment, without being disturbed or determined by the reality, and going beyond the impermanent changes of the body and the function of the mind, going beyond all the perceptions of names and forms through the senses, without attachment, identification, craving and aversion, being free from ignorance, egoism and impurities, being free from fear and worry with the mind resting in its nature of unconditional peace, no matter the body is in motion or in stillness. But, what people don’t realize is that the main reason why they don’t want to sit quietly for meditation is because their restless minds don’t enjoy or don’t like to sit quietly without any physical movements and mental stimulation and interaction with the world of names and forms. The minds are impatience and will be in agitation or irritation for holding still and be quiet without any stimulation of inputs and outputs even just for a few moments. The minds are not free from aversion towards stillness and the unpleasantness that arise in the body and the mind from restricting the body and mind in stillness.

Even though people can attain some pleasant sensations or good feelings after the yoga practice especially the asana practice as they are getting a momentary relieve from stress or tension or soreness by stretching their body, improving blood circulation, energizing the entire system and relaxing the mind, but their minds might not be free from craving and aversion, which is the main part for the yoga practice, to free the mind from craving and aversion. This is also why there are people have been ‘practicing yoga’ for quite a long time, gaining all the benefits from doing the yoga asana practice, but they are not free from being disturbed by constant reaction of craving and aversion towards the names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses.

The yoga studios or centres might not have the ‘time’ and ‘space’ to extend the duration of the yoga class to allow the students to have a meditation session immediately after the yoga class. Some classes don’t even have enough time for final relaxation, not to say reserve extra time for meditation.

If the yoga studios or centres understand the importance of meditation, and they don’t mind giving the extra time and space for meditation for at least another half an hour, and people could devote their precious time to just sit quietly after the yoga class, there will be a great difference in their mind of silencing the mind without any inputs and outputs. But, it’s everyone own choice for what they want to do with their minds and their life. If people are just contented with momentary good feelings from doing some forms of yoga practice, but not interested in further into meditation to allow the mind to be silent, being away from worldly ideas, affairs and activities, that is their freedom.

Some people might have particular ‘idea’ about meditation, either they see ‘meditation’ as a way to ‘attain’ superpower so that they can have all their wishes come true, or they see ‘meditation’ as something ‘evil’ that against their religion belief or might pull them away from their religion belief. In that case, don’t call it ‘meditation’, but it’s just ‘sitting quietly observing the natural breath’, without expecting the fruit of the action of ‘sitting quietly observing the breath’. One will self-realize what ‘meditation’ is about if one is free from expectation towards the fruit of the action of ‘sitting quietly observing the breath’ and allowing the breath to be what it is.

Some people might say that their minds are not quiet or calmed for meditation after the yoga asana practice. If the yoga asana practice doesn’t serve the purpose of calming and quieting the mind for meditation, but stimulating the mind not allowing the mind to be quiet and calmed, then that is not really yoga practice, but just a form of worldly physical and mental activity.

Be free.

Yoga teacher and the students on headstand practice

Headstand is the first basic pose in the traditional Hatha Yoga asana practice.

One doesn’t need to be super strong and flexible to perform headstand.

What allowing one to come into the headstand is both the body and mind is able to be relaxed when coming up into the headstand, while holding the headstand, and while coming down from the headstand, without tension, judgement, comparison and expectation.

What hinders people to come into the headstand and holding it, is fear. The fear of falling, fear of injury, fear of pain, fear of death and fear of the unknown.

Headstand is an effective asana to stimulate and purify the crown energy centre and rendering the mind calm and quiet for meditation, as well as giving many other physical and mental health benefits, if it is being performed with the correct understanding and technique, and without the interference of the egoism.

Although it is a great asana for many people, there are some people are not suitable to practice headstand due to certain physical limitations and health complications. People who don’t have those physical limitations like neck injuries and had performed heart surgery before, and don’t have health issues like serious high or low blood pressure, heart problems, eyes diseases, nose and ears infection, intense nose-blocked or headache, or have been advised by their doctor that they are not suitable to practice headstand for some reasons, but if they have great fear of performing the headstand (fear of falling and injuries), then they also are not suitable or ready to practice headstand yet, until they know how to deal with fear, and not being over-powered by fear. If they have great tension in the body and mind due to intense fear while learning to come into the headstand, it will only bring them more harms than benefits. Otherwise, anyone can practice headstand by learning how to come up into the headstand in a gentle and relaxed manner, and keep practicing until one can stay in the headstand for a prolonged period of time, comfortably. But one doesn’t need to be able to perform headstand in order to be peaceful and compassionate. It’s okay if people can’t perform headstand, or any of the yoga asana poses, due to certain physical restrictions.

Falling, whether during the yoga asana practice, or in life (whether physically, mentally or emotionally), is not something bad or negative. It’s neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative. It’s part of the learning process to allow the mind to be more open and wise. When one learns how to perform the challenging asana poses under a calm and fearless mind, one would be able to remain calm and stress-free when performing any challenging tasks in life under any conditions and situations.

Just like when we learn how to stand up and walk when we were toddlers, falling was merely part of the learning process. But, we continued to learn how to stand up and walk, again and again, no matter how many times we fell. And gradually, we developed the stability and learned how to stand up and walk without falling.

As parents, they do their best to guide and assist the children until they are able to stand and walk by themselves, in their own pace, without being pushy, without judgment, comparison and expectation. This includes allowing them to fall during the learning process before they develop the stability. The children also continue to learn how to stand and walk, again and again, no matter how many times they fall. The parents allow the children to take responsibility for their action and the consequences of their action.

This is the same as when come to teaching, guiding and assisting the yoga students to come into the headstand.

The yoga teacher should have no fear to teach the headstand to the students, and without fear about allowing the students to learn how to fall in a relaxed manner, bringing the risk of physical injury to the minimum. And allowing the students to take responsibility for their action and the consequences of their action. The teacher must endowed with patience and compassion to guide the students coming into the headstand, in their own pace, without being pushy, without judgment, comparison and expectation. Meanwhile, the students should learn how to confront the fear and overcome it, while developing acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, patience, perseverance, forbearance, non-attachment, non-identification, non-judgment, non-comparison, non-expectation, self-awareness, self-control, self-discipline and be free from craving and aversion, during the process of learning and performing the yoga asana poses.

Sometimes, some of the students see other people fall down from the headstand, they might generate fear and worry in themselves towards the headstand practice, even though the people who had fell didn’t hurt themselves, and they didn’t allow the fall to stop them from continuing their practice. One must learn not to be affected by one’s past experience of falling or other people’s falling from the asana poses, and do not let fear and worry to stop oneself from continuing to perform one’s own practice.

Fearlessness is part of selflessness. The one who has fear towards something, is the ego. Yoga is the realization of selflessness – the annihilation of the ego. The practice of headstand is confronting fear and be free from fear. The health benefits derive from the headstand practice are just some side-effects. Practicing headstand against the wall might bring health benefits to the practitioner, but it doesn’t allow the practitioner to confront fear and conquer it, instead, it is running away from dealing with fear.

Whether one can perform the yoga asana poses, or not, it’s really not important at all. Even after many times of practice, one might still unable to perform some or many of the yoga asana poses and might fall from time to time, and it’s fine, just keep practicing. What matter is, the practice of letting go of the egoism and not being over-powered by fear. Do our best, perform all our duties and responsibilities, without attachment towards our action and the result of our action, allowing the result to be what it is.

If the students have great fear of performing headstand and refuse to take responsibility for themselves, then they are not ready yet to practice headstand.

Be free.