By Sadguru Swami Nirmalananda
Things are changed and still changing. We don’t know what’s going to happen, nor how long it will take. Life has always been uncertain, but the uncertainty is now in your face. It is a spiritual lesson. Are you ready to open that door?
The door opens to an inner vista, a deep drink from the inner well that is so deep, it goes all the way to God. You find your way there accidentally, when you chill. Well, it’s chill time. If you’re stuck at home for the interim, turn your home into a yoga cave. Use some of the tried and true techniques to find your way all the way in. It doesn’t have to be accidental. It can be on purpose. There’s one big difference between yoga and Buddhism. Buddhism is about ending suffering while yoga is about discovering inner bliss. Patanjali defined it clearly thousands of years ago:
tadaa drashtuh svaroope’vasthaanam.
– Yoga Sutras, chapter 1, sutras 1-2
Yoga is the quieting of your mind.
Once it’s quiet, you abide in the
bliss of your own beingness (svaroopa).
It’s true, when you chill, you can drink deeply from within. But sometimes you’re chill on the outside while your mind is racing inside. And sometimes you just fall asleep. That sweet space, between crazy and unconscious, can be hard to find.
Yoga specializes in showing you the way inside. Instead of waiting for your mind to still, yoga has ways to gently apply the brakes. The yoga poses and breathing practices can help with this, but they are the tip of the iceberg. The 90% that’s underwater, hidden from public view, are the techniques that intervene with your mind.
It’s clear that your mind needs an intervention. Left to its own devices, it goes crazy and takes you with it. Especially when you’re housebound! Not only do you lack your usual diversions, you’re stuck with the people who know how to push your buttons. Or you’re alone. I’m not sure which one is worse.
How do you take care of your mind? First you have to understand how it works, then you work with it. It’s just like getting a new phone. First you have to understand how it works. Then you can utilize it for the things that are important to you.
So how does your mind work, really? It will be no surprise to you: your mind is incredibly repetitive. It repeats the same things over and over again. And over. And over… Once you realize how redundant it really is, you’ll be kinder to the elders in your life who repeat the same stories over and over. You can see that you’re doing the same thing inside.
Since your mind is going to repeat something, yoga says to apply that power of focus to something better. Apply your mind to Consciousness. Apply your mind to the inner exploration of your own existence, so you can see what you are made of, in the deeper dimensions beyond your mind.
An easy way to do this is to watch your breath, not to watch the movements but to find that sweet space between the breaths. It is a doorway inside, taking you to the sweet space between crazy and unconscious. Notice the brief pause after your inhale, before your exhalation starts again. Then notice the brief pause at the end of your exhalation, before your breath comes in again. Repeat.
The pause between your breaths is already there. You don’t have to make it happen. Let your breath be easy and find it — don’t force it. It’s a game of hide and seek, not a power trip. Your own Divine Essence is hiding within you. As a seeker, you look where it’s hidden, inside. Peeking into the pauses is like looking between the slats of window blinds. You can see the whole thing by looking through the spaces. On a practical level, one of those pauses will be easier, longer or sweeter for you. Great! But continue to peek into the other one as well. They start out different, but they open up to be the same, and then they open up more. Don’t do this all the time, only when you’re chillin’. It’s better than worrying. It’s better than panicking. It’s better than trying to find more ways to distract yourself from the unpredictable world. Instead of going crazy, it’s a way of going sane.