Yoga Wellness Educator. Certified to teach Hatha Yoga, Meditation, Pilates, Reiki. Yoga Therapy Foundations program. I love to write.
People who meditate often say how challenging it is to avoid being distracted by thoughts, images, memories, etc. It is even more challenging and critical to stay focused and engaged while doing the yoga poses, the physical aspect of yoga. Performing yoga poses require great alertness, mindfulness, and patience.
Paying attention and striving to widen our field of consciousness help us to realize and understand that we are not limited by thoughts or images, and that consciousness goes way beyond them. Gradually, we will notice that our personality —the body and psyche— is not our true nature, but is the content of our consciousness which is the container. This makes us enquire why the container has to identify itself with its contents.
Yoga practice can make us more and more sensitive to subtler and subtler sensations in the body. Paying attention to and staying with finer and finer sensations within the body is one of the surest ways to steady the wandering mind.
— Ravi Ravindra
How to Be Present
Living a yoga life with a regular practice of yoga and meditation help us to realize our true nature by encouraging us to be present:
- Present in the body when we do the yoga poses.
- Present to the unfolding of the breath during pranayama or yogic breathing.
- Present when we contemplate without losing ourselves in the past, in memories or thoughts, and without projecting into the future.
Here and Now
Being present in the ‘here and now’ means being mindful at every moment of the passing time, without holding on to these moments and without any buildup that is the reason for the existence of the past.
Life is lived like a river that flows without stopping. Our acceptance of the insecurity caused by unending change can help us find a sense of wellbeing.
It is only in letting the past die that we can be reborn and can revitalize ourselves in the present moment.
Many of us escape the present moment because we find it either boring, empty, or uninteresting. We can discover the joy of living when we grasp the present moment, and this will give us a delightful sense of peace, tranquility, and love.
No one has really lived a past or a future moment. The past ‘was’ only present moments. The future ‘will’ only be present moments.
Being in the present moment, in the ‘here and now’, implies that we are mindful of what is happening at every moment. The notion of time does not exist in the present moment. The ‘here and now’ is a point between past and future, always there, the only point we can access in time.
The purpose of a yoga life and yoga practice is to calm the mind and get rid of the whirlwind of thoughts so that the presence of the ‘now’ can manifest itself.
This state of being in the ‘now’ climaxes in a calm awareness, which is the internal silence that is known as contemplation. It is contemplation that leads meditators and contemplatives to realize the Self.
This internal silence reveals itself when we keep on being the observer of thoughts that come and go.
This silence will grow in three worlds: the gross or material, the subtle or astral, and the causal. The causal world is believed to be a wonderful realm, where consciousness resides once it has transcended the other two. When silence reaches the causal level, all wishes and attachments dissolve, and duality ceases to exist.
Duality is the cause of suffering.
According to Yoga Sutra 3:55, freedom from isolation is attained when the mind is the same as the spirit in clarity and concentration. Liberty and autonomy are attained when we become conscious of only pure consciousness. True spiritual understanding is experiencing pure consciousness, which is the nature of the spirit and the Spirit, of the individual self and the cosmic Self.
True spiritual experience is the non-dual experience of Spirit.
According to Yoga Sutra 3:56, when the purified mind becomes equal in purity with the Transcendental Self, then absolute freedom arises. (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Mukunda Stiles. 2002).
“Yoga is not just a practice or a philosophy; it is an entire way of life. And by yoga I mean the quest for liberation of the spirit, for Yoga is an eternal science intended to reveal and manifest the Eternal.” (Abbot George Burke).
If emotions are not understood and transformed, we could be driven to lose our self-control.
Yoga life and yoga practice allow us to untangle the cluster of feelings and emotions by becoming increasingly conscious and alert, and by watching ourselves when we talk. It is helpful to stop for a moment when we talk and become aware of the motive behind our conversation and discussion, whether we need recognition, a boost of self-esteem, the need to lash out etc.
Now and then, look at the sky, see its immensity, and let yourself be enveloped in its profound calmness and silence until you can feel yourself free, not limited by a form.
When we live in the ‘here and now’, we stop making judgments. It is when we are completely silent that we can communicate with objects or with others.
We stop labeling others or imposing limits to what they can do, because our attitude toward them could be an obstacle to their development. We must avoid imprisoning others in prejudices and preconceived ideas that we made of them in the past.
Try looking at others and approaching them as if it were the first time. It is in the relationship where the self is abandoned that love in its realest form can happen.
To eliminate attachment to the body, yoga sages advise to reflect on the temporary nature of the body. Just think of a child turning into a young adult, into an adult, an older person, an elderly person only to meet death and decay.
The elements that make our bodies are perishable and will die one day. They give us fleeting and limited sensations, not real happiness.
Real happiness is in the self where we can find peace. To attain this kind of peace, we must meditate. To meditate, we must control the mind. To control the mind, we must be aware of what we do, what we think, what we feel, how we act, and how we breathe etc.
When we are present in what we are doing, the mind stops wandering.
We can find the unity of ourselves by bringing inward our attention and everything that tends to move outward. All the rays of the mind must convert inward.
Consider and Ponder
To start the discerning and understanding process, consider these thoughts:
- I am not the body, the senses, or the object of the senses.
- I am not feelings or emotions.
- I am not my mind or the thoughts that cross my mind.
- Who am I?
- Who thinks?
- From where emotions emerge?
To reach complete silence, ponder these reflections:
- I am the immortal Spirit, neither male nor female.
- I am That!
- I am as immense as the deep and outer space, pure without images, immovable, calm, silent, and infinite.
“Le Silence par le Discernement”. Denis Boyes. Revue Mensuelle #123 (pp 14-17).
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Liliane Najm (author) from Toronto, Canada on October 18, 2020:
Hi Kalpana, actually your approach is the right one, to approach meditation mindfully instead of a chore. A mindful practice of yoga asanas helps to prepare for meditation. It is a mistake to separate meditation from yoga practice (not that I’m saying you do).
People who have trouble sitting down for meditation use mindful walking as an alternative.
Kalpana Iyer from India on October 18, 2020:
Controlling the mind during meditation requires a lot of focus. I do meditate for a couple of minutes but unfortunately I do not do it on a regular basis. I find meditation more peaceful when I mindfully get into it and not as a chore. But I should learn to use your techniques to silence my thoughts during a meditation session.