Distraction, inattentiveness, boredom, irritability, impatience, intolerance and outgoing pleasure seeking tendency

Distraction, inattentiveness, boredom, irritability, impatience, intolerance and outgoing pleasure/fun/enjoyment/excitement/adventure/interaction seeking tendency are some of the obstacles for those who have interest or aspiration in learning and practicing yoga, especially when joining a serious yoga and/or meditation retreat which emphasizing on learning and practicing traditional yoga and meditation to quiet the restless mind, to purify the mind impurities, to eliminate egoism, to allow the mind to reflect upon the truth of names and forms and all the teachings, to allow the mind to know what is going on in the mind or to know thyself, to free the mind from ignorance and suffering, the by-products or consequences of ignorance.

Holding a position such as sitting forward bend for more than a few seconds would appear to be challenging or unbearable for these minds. The minds get bored, impatient and irritable when holding the sitting forward bend or in a lying position during the relaxation for a prolong period of time quietly in stillness. The minds also reluctant to proceed a little more or further in the entire practice once experiencing slight tiredness or discomforts, as they don’t want to forbear or tolerate slightest of tiredness or discomforts.

These minds enjoy very much constant movements of the physical body such like sun salutations, but only as long as there’s absence of tiredness or discomforts. They also prefer the back bending series or challenging balancing series more than the other positions as these movements excite/stimulate the energy fields or the mind, not so much of holding the positions for a prolong period of time, but just to get into the positions and out of the positions quickly. It’s the same as for all the other positions, these minds get into any positions quickly in a rush and don’t like to stay in the positions for longer than a few seconds and eagerly want to come out from the positions quickly. If they ‘have to’ stay in the positions, they won’t stay still for a second, they would move around, such like looking around or playing with their fingers, toes, skin, hair, or clothing.

These minds have intense dislike or aversion towards aloneness or being with people that don’t interest them; non-talking or talking about things that don’t interest them; non-interaction or interaction with people that don’t interest them; silence/quietness or noises/sounds/speech that they don’t like; mental and physical stillness or mental and physical training/practice/activity that they don’t like; restricting the thought activities or focusing the mind at one point for a prolong period of time; or listening to the teachings of yoga of the annihilation of ignorance and egoism, of desireless, dispassion and renunciation that appear to be non-interesting, or irrelevant, or disagreeable to the minds.

Usually, these minds will feel regret for participating in such retreat and eagerly want to give up half way through the retreat and think of many ‘reasonable’ excuses to ‘runaway’ from the retreat.

“It’s so fun and pleasurable when we can be attending parties/celebrations/festivals, dancing and listening to upbeat loud musics, eating, drinking and smoking while talking, flirting, gossiping and laughing with many like-minded ‘friends’ and enjoying outdoor adventurous activities while looking at beautiful scenery are so much more enjoyable and meaningful and well-worth money spending than participating in these kind of ‘retreats’ about holding some tiring, boring and discomfortable positions in closed eyes and observing the breath without moving, talking or interaction for many hours for many days, and have to be listening to some ‘boring’ and ‘ridiculous’ teachings of ‘disciplining/restricting our thinking/actions/speech’, to be quiet, to be still, to be dispassionate and letting go our passionate desires and what we like to enjoy very much.”

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind.

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The importance of restricting worldly physical and mental activities

All kinds of yoga practice serve the purpose of changing the restless habits of the egoistic mind to render the mind calm and quiet to prepare the mind for meditation by weakening egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment and expectation, and eventually annihilate egoism completely, rendering the mind pure and quiet being free from impurities and restlessness to see the truth as it is.

One of the important practice to change the restless habits of the mind to render the mind pure and quiet is by restricting the worldly physical and mental activities, even though it doesn’t guarantee that the mind will be free from ignorance and suffering, if the mind doesn’t know how to be free from egoism. Such as full body paralysis or unconsciousness doesn’t mean that the mind is free from ignorance and suffering.

Some yoga practitioners think that they don’t need to restrict the worldly physical and mental activities to silent the thought activities, as they believe that all their worldly physical and mental activities are good and righteous actions derived from good and righteous intention, and all these good and righteous actions will be transformed into virtues and merits that will only bring good karma in return and there won’t be any bad karma in the making, that all their life experiences will only be good, joyful, pleasant, desirable and enjoyable, and void of all kinds of suffering.

Some young, fit and healthy ‘yoga teachers’ even proclaim that by practicing yoga, their physical body can defy old age, decay, or illness. The physical body of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha and many enlightened Gurus in the past also had to go through the inevitable truth of impermanence and selflessness of decay, illness, old age and death/decomposition, even though the mind had attained liberation from the suffering of ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness.

One of the common reason for many yoga practitioners who ignore the importance of silencing the thought activities is, they (the ever restless mind) don’t like/want to be quiet, but instead, they want actions/stimulation endlessly. Not just that they aren’t interested in silencing the thought activities, but they enjoy or indulge in the restlessness of ceaseless worldly physical and mental activities. Restricting the mind from the worldly physical and mental activities appears to be meaningless, boring and suffering for the minds that enjoy ceaseless actions/stimulation all the time. After sitting quietly for a few minutes, the restless minds will start to be agitated and want to be in action as soon as possible, eagerly want to see, hear, talk, imagine, move, express, play, or interact. And that is the normal behavior of the untrained minds. Without judgment or expectation, don’t give up and keep practicing until the mind is resting in the silence of thought, action and speech.

Many would justify that by performing the yoga asana practice that they enjoy doing regularly is indeed a form of meditation in action, and their body and mind would feel good each time after the yoga asana practice, that makes them think that they have already reached the goal of yoga. That’s their freedom of thinking and action.

In the beginning of the process of purifying the mind, the mind can’t avoid needing some kind of stimulation to keep the mind busy. And hence, the yoga practice at this stage is to replace unwholesome activities with wholesome activities to keep the mind busy as well as improving the mind concentration, such as performing karma yoga, chanting and prayer, or pranayama and asana practice. These activities might generate momentary effects of calming the mind, but it doesn’t free the mind from restlessness completely. As there are those who are ‘addicted’ towards performing karma yoga, chanting and prayer, pranayama and asana practice, where the mind will be agitated or frustrated, or feel meaninglessness when it can’t perform karma yoga, chanting and prayer, pranayama and asana practice over a period of time. Though there’s nothing bad with that, but the mind is not free. Eventually, the mind needs to learn how to breakaway from the clinging/addiction towards both wholesome and unwholesome stimulation to keep busy, to learn to be at ease in silence. This doesn’t mean that one is discouraged from performing wholesome activities, but the mind is free from clinging/addiction onto performing actions to keep the mind busy with some kind of activities to avoid dullness, boredom, loneliness or the sense of meaninglessness. The mind is free as it is.

Make use of the yoga practice as a tool to render the mind pure and quiet to prepare the mind for meditation, but without attachment or addiction towards the yoga practice or the momentary effects deriving from the yoga practice.

Those who truly want to conquer the restless egoistic impure mind to free the mind from the root cause of suffering (renouncing both good and bad karma that give rise to ceaseless births and deaths of life existence of the impermanent and selfless body and mind), they understand that all goodness, pleasantness and enjoyment in this worldly life of names and forms are impermanent and selfless, including the momentary pleasant effects deriving from performing the yoga practice, and hence they are aware of the importance of attaining liberation from the suffering of ceaseless births and deaths of the impermanent and selfless body and mind, and so, they would take all the practice of silencing the thought activities seriously.

Being aware of the preciousness of the fleeting impermanent and selfless life existence of this body and mind to attain liberation from suffering, they renounce both good and bad karma to transcend ceaseless births and deaths, by realizing the essence of inaction in all actions from the realization of selflessness, non-separateness, oneness, namelessness, formlessness, attributelessness and intentionlessness.

Those who love their worldly life existence with all the physical and mental worldly activities that they enjoy very much, will stop at the intention of performing good actions that bring good karma/consequences in return, and won’t be interested in silencing the thought activities or the modification of the mind, to transcend the restless and ceaseless births and deaths of the impermanent and selfless existence and function of the body and mind. And that’s their freedom.

Stop doing the things that the mind enjoys doing

Many people would prefer to hear this, “Do what you like to do. Go after what you like and desire. Life is too short and too precious.” instead of, “Live a life of discipline and dispassionate. Stop doing the things that the mind enjoys doing.”

Many minds don’t like a disciplined life, or be disciplined. ‘Disciplined life’ is being perceived by the worldly passionate minds as a form of ‘imprisonment’. Most minds want ‘freedom’. Ironically, the path of yoga and meditation of living a discipline and dispassionate life is also about ‘freedom’.

The ‘freedom’ for many people might be freedom of thinking, action and speech, freedom of identity and sexual orientation, freedom of culture and religion, freedom of illness-free and aging-free, freedom of war-free and violence-free, freedom of discrimination-free and prejudice-free, freedom of education and career, freedom of finance and comfortable living, freedom of movement and expression, freedom of unlimited enjoyment, freedom of unlimited happiness and pleasantness/void of unhappiness and unpleasantness, and freedom of gratifying all their desires.

The ‘freedom’ in yoga is about liberation from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering through disciplining the mind to eliminate egoism and impurities by restricting the thinking, action and speech, letting go attachment, identification, expectation and desires of craving and aversion to silent the restless modification of the mind, to allow the mind to see the truth and realize selflessness.

It’s normal that people would disagree with many of the teachings and practice of yoga as all these teachings and practice is indeed oppose to the worldly thinking and belief and practice. Except the part of doing the yoga asana exercises which most people like very much, and hence, many yoga teachers and yoga centres only want to conduct yoga asana exercise classes of various brands and styles, to please the members or clients, to give them what they like and want, and avoid giving them what they don’t like and don’t want. And hence, they don’t like to give the essential teachings of yoga about discipline, dispassion and desireless, because it’s not just not good for yoga business, but it’s not good for any other consumer business that rely very much on the boundless passionate desires of the worldly people to be surviving. If majority people in the world renounce the worldly desires, habits, objects and enjoyments, and observe a disciplined and dispassionate life, the world will be out of business for many things. But, this won’t happen because very few people are dispassionate and desireless, and very few people are interested in dispassion and desirelessness.

There are so many new and ‘interesting’ things keep coming into the world to keep the ever-discontented minds busy and entertained. Life is considerably comfortable for many people in the modern society even though nothing is perfect or permanent. Most minds don’t feel the need to attain liberation from suffering, as they aren’t suffering, but they are enjoying a rather desirable interesting life. People say, “I am strong and healthy. I have good income. I have good family and many friends. I have good community support. I enjoy lots of activities in this world. I love my joyous meaningful worldly life existence. I love being passionate towards everything.” That’s their freedom.

And then, unfortunately, there are those who would like to know more about yoga and are interested in transcending misery and suffering, were being scared/intimidated by the many stories of sexual misconducts related to lustful ‘yoga teachers’ and pseudo Gurus.

“Stop giving the mind what it likes and desires. Withdraw the mind from its worldly habits and addictions of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind.” The worldly minded might think that this is negative, going backward and life wasting.

Some minds like to chase after new things, new toys and different varieties, due to getting bored and discontentment towards the same old things, old toys and lack of variety. Because of the discontentment tendency of the mind, the mind will get bored easily with the new things or new toys after some time, and will chase after other new things and new toys to satisfy its craving for new excitement/experience, endlessly and restlessly.

Some minds feel unsettle and anxious towards new things, new toys and many varieties that it doesn’t familiar with.

Some minds cling onto certain things and certain toys strongly, and couldn’t let them go even when they are no longer available.

Either craving for new things/new toys/varieties or aversion towards new things/new toys/varieties will also lead the mind into restlessness. Giving the mind what it wants and not giving the mind what it doesn’t want might make the mind happy for a while, but it will not give liberation to the mind. In yoga, being determined by boundless desires of craving and aversion is indeed the real ‘imprisonment’.

Without discipline and dispassion, the mind will feel dissatisfied and unhappy when it doesn’t get what it likes, and getting what it doesn’t like, or losing something that it likes. With discipline and dispassion, the mind sees indifference between what it likes and doesn’t like, then it will stop chasing after what it likes, stop pushing away what it doesn’t like, and be able to let go what it likes, equanimously.

It’s part of the observation in the practice of silence – Mauna.

It sounds like one is tormenting oneself, as the mind will feel frustrated, disturbed, dissatisfied, disappointed, depressed, angry and unhappy for being unable to do what it enjoys doing, or unable to enjoy what it likes to enjoy. This is similar to the withdrawal symptoms of cutting down or cutting-off coffee intake. It’s very unpleasant for the body and the mind in the beginning for a period of time. Some people will give up, but some people are able to go beyond all the discomforts and unpleasantness, and develop a great mental strength.

It’s a fact that many minds don’t enjoy sitting quietly with minimal body movements observing the incoming and outgoing breath for a few hours a day, without stimulation, entertainment, excitement, pleasurable enjoyment for the senses, playing, talking, interacting, commenting, or seeing and touching someone or something that one loves.

Even though the impure egoistic mind might perceive the disciplined and dispassionate way of life as self-tormenting or life wasting, but it helps the mind to be free from all kinds of suffering. Just like most people don’t like to take bitter medicines, it’s not the enjoyable taste, but it could cure their sickness.

This practice of “Stop giving the mind what it likes and wants.” to annihilate the modification of the mind requires a prolonged period of time for it to be effective.

After a few days being in a retreat away from their family and friends, some people say, “My mind is quite strong in non-attachment already because I don’t feel missing my family and friends.” This doesn’t work because it’s just for a short period of time and the mind knows that very soon it will go back to the family and friends again.

Some people might think that their minds are quite strong in their yoga practice after they went away for a long holiday or working trip being physically away from their family and friends and their daily comforts and enjoyments for a few weeks or months, but what they didn’t realize is that even though they are physically apart, but somehow, they might still be having some kinds of regular communication and interaction with their family and friends throughout that few weeks or months, or they might be enjoying the company of some other new friends. And even though they are away from their usual comforts and enjoyments at home, but they might be enjoying other different kind of comforts and enjoyments. Again, this doesn’t work.

If only the mind is being completely cut-off from all kinds of physical, mental and emotional contact and communication with family and friends, and cut-off from all social interactions with other people, and refrain from all kinds of worldly enjoyable stimulating physical and mental activities for a prolonged period of time, one will then can truly know thyself and ‘reform’ one’s mind.

The worldly minds will be missing the family and friends, while restlessly thinking/wondering/worrying about what’s happening to the family and friends, being unable to receive any news or updates about the family and friends for a long time. The sense of boredom, loneliness and meaninglessness bubbling up in the mind due to refraining from all kinds of worldly enjoyable stimulating physical and mental activities.

The well-trained minds that have developed the strong foundation of mental strength/non-attachment/dispassion won’t be missing or worrying about anyone or anything. The mind is void of boredom, loneliness and meaninglessness. It doesn’t mean that this mind doesn’t love or care for the family and friends, but the mind has gone beyond attachment, identification, clinging and craving. The mind is free from suffering and painful sorrow even though being alone by oneself without the company of family and friends and other beings, being aware of the truth of impermanence and selflessness. This is true freedom for yoga and peace seekers. But, for the worldly minds, this is being perceived as ‘unhealthy’, ‘wrong’ and ‘abnormal’ mind behavior of ‘unloving’, ‘uncaring’, or ‘unconcern’. That’s their freedom of thinking and belief.

It’s everyone’s freedom whether they want or don’t want to inquire this teaching, and be free, or not.

Go beyond the impermanent selfless physical body

It’s normal and nothing wrong that many people are being determined by everything that is related to their physical body to be who they are, being determined by the condition, ability/disability and appearance of the physical body to feel satisfy, confident, meaningful, good and happy, or not.

There is expectation towards the physical body to be the way that they desire it to be. And if their physical body doesn’t turn out to be the way that they expect it to be, they feel disturbed, disappointed, dissatisfied, unhappy, frustrated or depressed about themselves and their life. This is truly unnecessary if one practices yoga and knows what is yoga.

For those who truly want to practice yoga and realize unconditional peace, the non-attachment and non-identification with the impermanent selfless physical body is one of the important teaching and practice of yoga, alongside the non-attachment and non-identification with the thinking mind, the cultural and social thinking and belief, the feelings and emotions, the desires and all the perceptions/experiences of names and forms.

Go beyond the impermanent selfless physical body and realize unconditional peace.

The mind that perceives all the names and forms through the senses via the physical body won’t be determined or disturbed by the impermanent changes of health condition/strength/flexibility/ability/performance/energy level/appearance/aging/decaying/mortality of the physical body.

The youthfulness, good health, great strength, super flexibility, skillful abilities, high performance, high energy level and desirable appearance of the physical body cannot avoid/defeat/conquer impermanent selfless changes, decay, sickness, injuries and mortality. The strongest and healthiest person in the world would also breakdown instantly if being hit by a strong impact, or poisoned, or infected by life threatening viruses.

The world greatest super talented, fit and skillful sportsmen/sportswomen and incredibly strong and flexible acrobatic performers and world class gymnasts also would suffer from disappointment, depression, hurts, painful sorrow, sickness, injuries, degeneration, old age and death.

Seek not identity, satisfaction, confidence, sense of meaningfulness and happiness in the existence and function of this impermanent selfless physical body.

For the yoga or peace seekers, this life existence of the impermanent selfless physical body is just a momentary transition to allow the selfless restless mind under the influence of ignorance and egoism to be liberated from the suffering of ignorance, egoism and restlessness through transcending/silencing the modification of the mind.

Non-attachment and non-identification with the physical body and the thinking mind as ‘who I am’ doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t appreciate the existence and function of the physical body and the thinking mind, or does not maintain the well-being of the physical body and the thinking mind, but out of compassion, one appreciates and maintains the good condition of the physical body and the clarity/sanity of the thinking mind for performing yoga and meditation practice without attachment, identification and expectation towards the existence and function/the ability and disability of the physical body and the thinking mind.

This is the basic practical yoga practice that would bring the mind towards the realization of unconditional peace, not by performing lots of physical yoga asana exercises. By performing/practicing/teaching lots of yoga asana exercises regularly for many years, possessing the knowledge of the yoga asana exercises and gaining the maximum benefits from doing the yoga asana exercises doesn’t guarantee that the mind will have peace, if one has attachment, identification and expectation towards the existence and function of the physical body and the thinking mind as ‘who I am’, to feel good, happy, satisfy, meaningful and confident, or not.

Those who couldn’t or don’t do any yoga asana exercises for some reasons, they will have peace if they know what is non-attachment, non-identification and non-expectation towards the impermanent selfless physical body and thinking mind, being undetermined and undisturbed by the selfless impermanent changes of the body and mind.

When the mind knows how to be undetermined and undisturbed by the impermanent changes of the body and mind, the mind would also know how to be undetermined or undisturbed by the mind perception of all the different qualities of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses, of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches/feels/senses and thinks.

That is what yoga is about, resting in peace in the NOW while experiencing all the ups and downs, pleasantness and unpleasantness, agreeable and disagreeable life experiences, or happy and unhappy relationships through this selfless impermanent mortal life existence of the function of the body and mind perception of a worldly life of impermanent names and forms of beings, relationships and things.

One doesn’t need to momentarily escape unhappiness or tension by taking any substances of drugs or intoxicants that could give many damaging side-effects to the function of the body and the thinking mind. One doesn’t need to rely on attaining/possessing ‘good and positive’ qualities and the gratification of desires of craving and aversion to feel good, happy, meaningful and confident, or not. That is real freedom or liberation.

Yoga is not about possessing great virtues and merits from performing good actions and accumulating good karma to have a better rebirth to a better/easier/less suffering next life experience, or self-punishing to inflict physical pain/injury to remove sins, or to be ‘migrating’ to a place called ‘heaven’ after death. Though that is people’s freedom if that is what they believe in and that’s what they want.

Getting the benefits of doing yoga exercises regularly but didn’t eliminate ignorance, egoism and impurities?

What it’s like if we are getting many health and fitness benefits from doing the yoga exercises regularly, but we didn’t eliminate ignorance, egoism and impurities?

It’s like a beautiful garden with lots of nice fragrant flowers blooming and filling the air with really nice fragrance, but there were also smells of cat shits/pees and decapitated rotting dead body parts of birds and frogs that the cats killed for fun and left behind in the garden here and there.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with that.

Some say, “It’s okay. I love cats. I don’t mind the smells of cat shits/pees and decapitated rotting dead body parts of birds and frogs that the cats killed for fun. I can still smelling the fragrance of the flowers. The nice fragrance of the flowers can ‘sort of’ cover those smells. I don’t need to do anything.” That’s their choice of freedom.

Some say, “The nice fragrance of the flowers don’t really cover or remove the smells of cat shits/pees and rotting dead body parts of the birds and frogs killed by the cats and being left behind in the garden. The air is filled with the mixture of the fragrance from the flowers and the smells from the consequences of cats’ behavior. The fragrance of the flowers is no longer a nice fragrant, but it’s contaminated by the smells of the consequences left behind by the cats. What is there to be enjoying about? I have to clean up all these existing cat shits, wash away the pees, and take away all the dead body parts of birds and frogs, and then I’ll do my best to keep the cats away as much as possible. Then I can truly enjoy the nice pure fragrance of the flowers in the garden.” This is similar to the essential purification process of performing the yoga practice.

It’s not so much about attaining and accumulating the benefits of the yoga exercises, and making the body and mind feels good momentarily after doing the yoga exercises, or accumulating virtues and merits by doing lots of ‘good actions’, but more important, is to clean up the ceaseless generation and accumulation of ‘rubbish’ in the mind – The annihilation of ignorance, egoism and impurities.

Huge amount of accumulated virtues and merits are nothing if ignorance, egoism and impurities are ceaselessly ‘occupying’ and ‘contaminating’ the mind.

Be free.