Yoga is the restriction or stilling of the changing states of the mind. Yoga Sutra 1.2. Yes the second sutra defines what yoga is meant to achieve, but stopping thoughts popping into your head is about as easy as stopping a tsunami or hurricane. ( the wise words of Prof. Rao) I’m pretty sure as soon as someone even says to me in a guided meditation, “Clear your mind, ” I end up immediately filled with everything around me and inside me. I start hearing traffic, wondering if my foot will fall to sleep in a minute from its semi uncomfortable placement, and a multitude of the subconscious thoughts bubbling to the surface, fears doubts, nightmares, my kids, my responsibilities, work, illness, do I have enough gas in my car to get to the station, the wafting smell of something yummy or too much perfume, am I warm enough…and so much more. So I ask, is it possible?
I would have said no five years ago. I was trying to meditate then, but I just didn’t have the right tools or enough compassion for myself to be patient and not judge what arises. A gazillion inane, insane, obscure, trivial and important thoughts are just there, pretty much all the time, that is the human condition plain and simple. Just get over it, seriously, get over it. Nothing will make your mind a blank canvas, not even asana, however, the reaction you have to what pops in your head can be altered. Just as asana most certainly wasn’t at all stabile when I started yoga, why would I think meditation would be any different?
Sitting still has never been one of my gifts, at least not without something to focus my mind intently on on such as a book I’m reading, or a painting, or writing. I think that’s one of the reasons I was so drawn to Ashtanga, the intensity of the asana with dristhi, breath, and bundhas, allowed me to figure out how to calm my mind and body just enough to attempt sitting quietly without wanting to fidget, at least for a half an hour. (If I’m lucky!) Like with anything else, I fail…frequently
I meditated this morning, at points it went well, and that is the best I can achieve for now. Trying, again and again, no judgement or annoyance at what decides to be present with me, just acknowledge and move back to my breath or whatever focal point I’ve chosen to help me stay grounded. If the thoughts were important enough, I can get back to them later, let’s face it those thoughts just won’t go away…