Patanjali in a Nutshell - Sutra 1:2

Sutra 1:2

                                   

Complete mastery over the modifications of the mind is called Yoga

Pandit  Rajmani  Tigunait  and  Edwin  Bryant

 

Yoga is the cessation of the movements of consciousness

Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – BKS Iyengar

 

Yoga happens in the resolution of consciousness

Threads of Yoga – Matthew Remski

 

In the second sutra Patanjali explains what yoga could be (this is open to debate).  To stop our thinking mind or any movements or fluctuations of consciousness.  I agree that it is enjoyable to have an experience free from thought or a clear calm mind but consider that as a permanent state.  If this is the goal of yoga would our lives benefit by being in a state of thoughtlessness? If we emancipate ourselves from thoughts and ascend to the state of "yoga" how will our family feel, how will we make a living and work? Would we still be part of society? 

 

I think it is very important to consider what yoga means to us.  Being aware of our thoughts is a great tool to bring more balance into our life.  As we practice stilling the mind often mental habits, influences, and life experiences come up and inhibit yoga.  This is when the real yoga begins as we shift our lifestyle and habits to support calmness, balance, stillness, and of course, yoga.  The practice irons out the wrinkles of habit, influences, and mental turbulence or at least makes us aware of these factors that draw are attention away from deeper states of focus, mindfulness, or connection. 

 

My thoughts on permanence are influenced by nature.  There is life and death and nothing escapes this cycle.  In the natural world there is no permanence as things come and go. We cannot be in a constant state of inhalation as the exhalation must come to rid the lungs of carbon dioxide.  So to I feel that reaching a permanent state of yoga is impossible.  In the pages to come, Patanjali lays out practices and revelations on how to calm the mind and body and reach states of yoga but then we come down, back to our life, our world.  The practice is there for us to find yoga but not to hold it.  In ancient times sages and ascetics (or yogi's) would renounce life duties to pursue states of yoga (if any succeeded?).  Even in todays world I can't find proof that any practitioners have reached permanent states of enlightenment or yogic consciousness through yoga practice.  So what if experiencing glimpses of the states of yoga help us to wake up to the situations in our lives.  Can stilling the fluctuations of the mind bring clarity and intimacy with our world? Is it possible to have an open understanding of what yoga is?

Patanjali in a Nutshell - Sutra 1:1

Sutra 1:1

 

Then comes the right to undertake the practice of yoga

Pandit  Rajmani  Tigunait  and  Edwin  Bryant

 

With prayers for divine blessings, now begins an exposition into the sacred art of yoga

Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – BKS Iyengar

 

We all inquire into yoga

Threads of Yoga – Matthew Remski

 

I feel that every human on the planet at some point in there life questions what consciousness is and try to understand how to calm the mind to catch a glimpse of what is happening on a deeper level.  We all crave a connection to the inner quietude.

 

In the first sutra Patanjali immediately opens the practice to anyone who wishes to experience their consciousness.  Regardless of caste, religion, or upbringing we are intrigued to delve into the practice of yoga.  This first line instantly sparks curiosity into the reader.  What is Yoga? Why should I practice? Is it my right to inquire further into my state of mind?

 

I feel comforted by the potential of the pages to come that will bring an inquiry or investigation into the deeper parts of myself, my community, and my life.  Yoga has many meaning and those meanings will change as I go through life but committing to this inquiry of yoga I will always have new findings to share. 

 

Check back soon as I will reflect on the Sutras of Patanjali.

 

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali……in a nutshell.

The yoga sutras of Patanjali are a rich and contemplative arrangement of 196 sutras (aphorism) that challenge the reader to consider his/her own consciousness and understanding of what makes up reality.

 

I’m no expert on the Yoga Sutras but am drawn with intrigue towards the teachings as they are open to interpretation.  I’ve decided to share my reflections on the sutras in a very accessible and open presentation.  I hope everyone becomes curious to discuss and comment on what these sutra bring up in their understanding and experience.

 

Was Patanjali a magical sage? A group of philosophers? Half snake have man (really!)? Nobody really knows but the sutras are possibly as old as 400 CE (wiki). I’ve read that philosophers and authors in those times were rewarded and celebrated for removing even one syllable.  So the sutras are dense with meaning.  Sutras were traditionally chanted. A lot!  In order for the student to memorize each one and meditate upon their meaning.  As I have just began to delve into the yoga sutras of Patanjali I’m sure my understanding will change over time as I consider the teachings. I hope you will join my journey!

 

Patanjali’s yoga sutras make up the foundation of modern yoga practice and include the 8 limbs of ashtanga yoga which include; ethics (relations to others or yama), relations to oneself, posture (asana), freedom of breath (pranayama), freedom of the senses, focus, contemplation, and integration (the last 3 make up meditative practices).  The sutras also touch on the patterned tensions of conscious and unconscious life with a goal of possibly unbinding oneself from these happenings.  As there are many translations there comes many understandings of what Patanjali was recommending.  There is no central authority on what the sutras really mean as they are basically void of an author.  I believe the meaning of each sutra is relative to the reader and the culture that she/he is part of.  How can we let ancient teachings benefit our modern lives?

 

This will be a long journey dissecting each sutra (potentially skipping a few).  The beauty of philosophy is the teachings are open to contemplate.  The practices there to experience.  It is up to us to give them meaning.

Satya – The Yama of Truthfulness

Sean O'Leary

Satya is the practice being truthful and honest in our thought, speech and action.  On the surface this yama may seem straightforward but in reality it requires a constant observance and understanding of the changing nature of our relationships and the world.

The definition of truth is “the true or actual state of a matter” or “conformity with fact or reality”.  Interestingly if matter and reality are in constant state of fluctuation and change truth will be relative to each circumstance and situation.  So to grasp at the idea of truth or honesty our yoga must be a spiritual practice that is rooted in a constant exploration of the present. 

I love the idea of a practice that doesn’t state right or wrong or a single path but gives an idea that is relative to the individual, community, culture and causation of our surroundings.  Every person has an opinion and values developed throughout life.  Satya challenges us to investigate our motives. In his book Yoga for a World out of Balance Michael Stone points out the connection between person and society

“From the time of our birth, we each respond not only in a personal sense to the precariousness of our human condition, but we are also the inheritors of delusive social institutions and shared meanings about the world.  The same basic patterns we find in our minds and bodies are also found in the structure and function of our institutions.”

I like how Michael Stone challenges the reader to consider how contemporary society can warp our worldviews and potentially corrupt us into living untruthful lives.   The social and economic pressures of modern life make us think that success, financial gain and consumerism is equivalent to life satisfaction but this is ultimately a lie.  At our deepest core we yearn for love, community and compassion.   Yoga practice, meditation, pranayama, and asana all bring us closer to our true needs rather than our conditioned desires.  The yama satya prompts us to investigate our desires and how we can live aligned with our highest truth.

What does living honestly mean to you?

Rebirth of Community


by Sean O'Leary

 

This Friday night, Live Yoga is starting “Dharma Nights,” which Amy and I are very excited to offer. This is an opportunity for members of the studio and other friends to talk, discuss, come together and create community. Community: something that I believe we are fundamentally missing in our lives.  Click here for more info.

This Friday, we discuss community as a topic. What is it? Why is it missing? Where did it go? How do we get it back? How can are our lives be more meaningful and connected?

What is community?  It is a really good question because in my opinion community has almost disappeared in our society.   It is almost foreign to consider being close to all the neighbors on your street, and also difficult remaining close to friends and family with our busy lives.  I tried to google the word community and the first 10 hits were about some American television show.  Even the internet has forgotten community.  How strange that we have boxed ourselves into such a sedentary lifestyle not requiring anyone’s help for anything, as if to say, “I’m an individual and I can provide for myself, make my own way, without your help.”  This way of thinking is ingrained in having a successful career and life.  I felt for years an urge to connect more with others, to help others or simply to be part of a group of people with similar interests and this yearning has remained.  It seems impossible to find community in most urban or suburban areas. In the past, being part of a community meant you had fellow beings to help support you through your life.  Members would gather weekly to visit and sing, and there would be abundant help during harvest time or when somebody was building their house, for instance. All would freely offer their time to assist.  I guess in the past people were just friendlier and more generous with donating their time.  Or maybe time was more abundant.

In the current society we live in, most people I know are too busy to take time for themselves.  40 hours a week in order to make ends meet.  After work a runabout of chores and activities fill the rest of our time.  Time has become a rarity and busy-ness a reality.  Time is Money.  Hmmmm That last sentence Time is Money.  Time is Money. Time is Money!  Money! Money!  Money!   This is the problem itself.  Our lack of community and ever increasing loneliness, as well as our despair about achieving success is driven by the very evil word, MONEY.  Most things we used to rely on our community for have now been turned into services that we pay for.  In fact any good business idea is just that, turning something people do for themselves into a service for a fee.  It paints a grim picture about the direction of our society.

In his book, Ascent of Humanity, Charles Eisenstein sums it up:

“…and so we find in our culture a loneliness and hunger for authenticity that may well be unsurpassed in history.  We try to ‘build community’, not realizing that the mere intention is not enough when separation is built in to the very social and physical infrastructure of our society.  To the extent that this infrastructure is intact in our lives, we will never experience community.  Community is incompatible with the modern lifestyle of highly specialized work and complete dependence on the specialists outside that work.  It is a mistake to think that we can live ultra-specialized lives and somehow add another ingredient called community on top it all.  Again, what is there to share?  Not much that matters, to the extent that we are independent of neighbors and dependant on faceless institutions and distant strangers.”

Ok so I realize this has been kind of a downer so far.  But it will brighten up from here, I promise!  The idea of the separate self should be abandoned so we can align with a more fulfilling way of life.  We have to need each other!  We must rely on the goodness within each of us.  We all desire to give and enact our gifts, and thus strengthen the bonds of community and create a more wholesome, organic and connected way of living.

There is another way, and it requires us to trust our true human nature.  We all have a goodness, a desire to be creative and make beautiful things.  A desire to meet, share, help and love others.  It is written in our genes!!  I do know something is perverted about our society, economy and so forth but as human we are all amazing.  Deep down our hearts all know we can live differently, and it will take some big changes to make the world, starting with our communities, a more beautiful place.

I think small changes are the most important for us to reconnect with the people around us.  Smiling and chatting with neighbours, cashiers and strangers you meet makes it more natural to be open with others.  Meeting in groups to enjoy like-minded ideas where everyone has an opportunity to share their gifts will harbour more connection between ourselves and others.  Living this way will develop relationships and over time those relationships can grow.  Living life with an open and loving heart will attract and sustain even the smallest seed of community, and seeds grow.

After searching more, I eventually found a definition of community on Wikipedia (the ultimate community project).

Community can refer to a usually small, social unit of any size that shares common values.  If community exists, both freedom and security may exist as well. The community then takes on a life of its own, as people become free enough to share and secure enough to get along.  

This is an extremely powerful and intriguing idea.  How can we bring these community-focussed ways of living into our modern-day life to create more nourishing and connected relationships? 

Let’s talk more about these ideas, and your thoughts about community, its difficulties and how to create more space for connection in our modern society! Dharma Night discussion happens this Friday night from 7:30-8:30pm. All welcome!