This blog about practice came from my friend, Michael Peter Carter. I met Michael on my second trip to Mysore. We were the only TWO students in Sanskrit class. He and his wife Holly were a great support to me the next year when I was on my first solo trip to India. I look forward to meeting them again in Mysore but this post touches so completely on what practice is about…steadiness.
I had to share it.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:
I:2 yogah chittavritti nirodhah => union + consciousness + movement + cessation
II:46 sthira sukham asanam => Steady + Joy + Pose
II:58 They who can withdraw their senses from the sense objects, as a tortoise withdraws its limbs into its shell, that persons intellect is considered steady.
I find that Drishti helps me to keep my mind focused on my practice. By fixing my gaze softly on a single place, there is less stimulation for my mind. I am not distracted by what other students are doing or wearing and I am not distracted by the thoughts and judgments that naturally follow.
I find that by keeping my breath steady, with equal qualities on inhales and exhales, my nerves remain calm even when a posture is extremely challenging. The soft sound, like the ocean, gives my ears a kind of ‘white noise’ to listen to. It also gives me feedback to let me know if I am straining too hard or being lazy.
I find that by following the correct vinyasa my mind can be still. My practice unfolds one breath at a time. There is no guesswork, no dialogue about what to do next, or what to do for the next series of postures. Instead, I only need to be present with one breath/movement at a time. As each one completes, another one begins.
I find that by doing practice everyday there is no remembering, wondering, or considering. Practice is the same today, as yesterday, as tomorrow. Over weeks, months, and years, a few new poses may be introduced, but they are done at correct intervals, when my mind can remain steady with the added challenges.
I find that by having faith and determination in this practice all fears and worries are swept away. I can step on my mat and get straight to the work of cultivating a steady mind.
I find, by practicing in the correct method, my mind, to be steady.
Here is the link to Michael’s webpage