There is a sign parked beside a pristine calm lake. It reads ‘No throwing pebbles allowed!
It seems to be a stark message next to the majestic blue oasis that sends out soothing waves to all who reach its sublime shore.
The calm lake represents our mind-lake in a state of balance and positivity. A state that enables us to know and connect with our centre and remain buoyant in life, that resists getting stuck in negative mind-loops.
We know what happens when those negative pebbles hit the mindspace. They send ripples of turbulence, that if entertained and identified with lead to choppy waves of agitation and retaliation. While ripples and waves are a natural experience of life and will always exist, the question then becomes about managing the spikes of the mind that are created by the ripples. Doing life well becomes about redirecting our attention to identify with something else in those moments. This is where applying the yama of inner happiness helps. When you are happy you expand your vision, you seek positive solutions and steer away from drama. A yoga practice if it includes yamas and niyamas helps to rectify our attitudes and therefore our habitual responses.
Do we allow others to throw pebbles into our mind lake? Do we take on-board the drama? The state of our mind is far reaching. Its sphere of influence reaches into all dimensions of our being; our senses, the quality of our thoughts, our attitudes and perceptions of others and ultimately how we behave and interact with the environment around us. Its huge. So, where do we start?
A simple technique in yoga known as ‘watching’, ‘witnessing’ the mind, referred to in yogic scriptures as ‘the drashta’ becomes an invaluable tool to bring inner resilience in the face of life’s challenges. Initially through developing self awareness you have to work at developing this quality, but over time, with patience and persistence this quality starts to become an integrated part of your personality. You don’t have to ‘practice’ it per say, its part and parcel of your natural responses. Of course it takes time to reach this point and to be honest a lot of practice. 10 minutes daily rather than trying to sit for half an hour once or twice a week is the way to go. Initially use a guided recording until you can practice ‘off the mat’ in daily life. This is where the extension of practice really starts to happen - in the battlefield of life, like the rocky shores surrounding the calm lake.
The next time you sense a stone coming your way, use the tool of connecting with inner happiness to disarm the wave of reaction that propels you unconsciously. Pause. Choose a different response. Let the thought wave pass, as it will, if you can sit with the energy of irritation and allow it to subside. Ask yourself, where does this reaction stem from? Often an unmet need or desire coming out of a feeling of not being or having enough. It’s the constant raft of desires (which are endless) that gives rise to discontentment. Practice contentment by affirming what you have rather than focusing on the have nots. See this pattern and get to know your mind. Knowing our mind is taking responsibility for ourselves. This is possible even with a little effort
It starts with being willing to work on ourselves, after-all who doesn’t enjoy the serenity and peace of a calm lake.
The upcoming meditation events features classical meditation tools you can apply to strengthen and protect your mind-lake. Join me.
30 November in Auckland: Yoga Day - Meditation for the Modern Mind
7 December in Tauranga: Meditation Masterclass
8 December in Whakatane: Meditation Masterclass
Inspired by Satsang with Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati, Bihar School of Yoga, October, 2019.