Smt. Anjali Savur.
Even if you can maintain an uninterrupted state of mind during the 4 seconds of retention or suspension when you are doing Asanas, think you may have made progress and continue at it.
We have all heard the poem in our childhood ….. Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and make the pleasant land … and yet few realize the importance of the little things.
Now let us take something as simple as habits. We start off with small thing everyday and later it becomes a habit, all this even before we are aware of it. This is the case with both good and bad habits. Take the example of a cigarette smoker. He starts with one cigarette and then he lands up smoking quite a few cigarettes everyday. If we realize how habits are formed, we can avoid the formation of bad habits and cultivate good habits like positive thinking, acceptance, doing work without expecting results etc. And if people have a bad habit they should put in steady effort for, as mark Twain puts it “A habit cannot be tossed out of the window, it must be coaxed down the stairs, a step at a time”.
Even in our practice of Yoga Asanas, Pranayamas etc. we will see how the little things count. When I joined the special class for ladies at this Institute, the first thing I had been asked to do was to stand quietly with my eyes closed while the teacher observed my breathing. It is only after establishing any rate of respiration, I was taught Talasana with 2:4:2 count. I was then told that with practice I could increase the count to 3:6:3 and so on. Same was the case with Pranayama.
Similarly, as I had a spinal problem I found I could barely reach midway between my knees and my feet. At first I was disheartened especially when I saw the others doing the same so very comfortably. But then I realized that the beginning of all things are small. So, with great determination I began to practice daily. It took me quite some time, in fact nearly one and a half years before I could just manage to touch my toes. But whenever my effort slackened my spine seemed to recoil and I went backwards by a few steps. That made me realize that the little effort I put in everyday had so much value.
In everything we do, we need to concentrate if we are to fare well and yet we do not realize the importance of the role of concentration. It reminds me of the African proverb, “You can count the apples on a tree but you cannot count the trees in an apple”. Similarly we do not realize the potential for success that is present in concentration. If we did recognize it, we would have all been able to concentrate much better.
This topic of concentration reminds me of an incident that took place in the Sutra class where we were talking of Niruddha state of mind, which is steady and without ‘Pratyaya’or thought content. This is considered the highest state of mind leading to liberation. In that class, one of the students had asked Dr. Jayadeva that we, who could not keep our minds steady, could we ever hope to reach such a high state or come anywhere near it ? Dr’s at that time was so beautiful and inspiring for he had said, “Even if you can maintain an uninterrupted state of mind during the 4 seconds of retention, suspension when you are doing Asanas, think you have made progress and continue at it. “ This answer brought hope to even those of us who had doubts about any such achievement in our Yogic path.
Now, finally, coming to the most realistic aspect –acqisition-which is also the most difficult to give up. For don’t we all realize how difficult it is to give up desires. When a person desires one nice thing and he gets it he wants another and so on. He is never satisfied and yet to succeed in leading a Yogic life as far as possible one has to learn to be satisfied with what one has. It does not mean we give up or give away what we have but that we don’t become attached to things so much so that instead of our possessing them, they possess us. Also, we can make a beginning by reducing our wants to the bare minimum. I’ll end with a beautiful poem by Edward Dyer :-
Some have too much yet still do crave,
I have little and seek no more;
They are poor though much they have,
And I am rich with little store;
They poor, I rich, they beg, I give,
They lack, I leave; they pine, I live.

Published in the April 2010 edition of Yoga & Total Health Magazine.

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