तत्र स्थितौ यत्नोऽभ्यासः॥१३॥
tatra sthitau yatno'bhyāsaḥ
- Of these, practice and non-atachment, steady effort is practice . -CT
- Of these two, effort toward steadiness of mind is practice. – SS
- From these, practice is the effort to be fixed in concentrating the mind. – EBF
Practice here is understood to be in regard to mental concentration. Early commentators define concentration as “the peaceful flow of the mind when it has become freed from mental activity.” The effort to secure this freedom of mind is “practice”.
Practice in yoga has also been described as enthusiastic and vigorous spiritual practice. Also described as:
- one pointed
- firmly grounded
In Classical Yoga, the age of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, sadhana or spiritual practice refers to the “Eight Limbs of Yoga” (latter described in this text). Abhyasa is a more subtle underliying practice of keeping the mind fixed in all activities.
Abhyasa is the effort exerted to maintain a one pointed focus, in asana, in meditation, in life.
Starting a new practice can be hard. At first we feel resistance, however if we continue on in the face of that resistance we our practice starts to cut a grove in our citta. Every time we follow through we deepen the groove, making it an easier path to follow. (Samskara)
Sometimes practice can lead to or be used as a form of spiritual bypassing. The practice is intended to help us become more familiar, more comfortable, and more in love with ourselves as we are. If however, we use our practice, whether it be asana, meditation, or another type of spiritual practice, to avoid ourselves or oppress or repress parts of ourselves then we are bypassing ourselves for the practice itself. When we attach ourselves to our practice by identifying with it, we bypass ourselves as well, rather than unwinding the knotted ego we instead just add more to our separate self-identification.
This is a really easy trap to fall into, especially here in the West. Our training and conditioning in life and yoga both sometimes give us the idea that we should only be in-touch with the so-called “loving, kind, peaceful, happy, cheery, positive” parts of ourselves. This, however, is just ignoring ourselves, not acknowledging our true and whole self, that is a Divine Image of the Omnipotent and Omnipresent Power of God, the Universe, Purusa. All of the aspects of ourselves are worthy, are a vital piece of the whole. This practice is not asking us to ignore that it is asking us to recognize it. As we recognize our whole self, we give the love and the attention that it needs to relax. This is key to freeing the mind, shining a light on all of our dark places with our loving acceptance. When we can do this, when we see the value in our past, in our mistakes, and in our the darker sides of ourselves then we are able to relax our grip a little, and in that space, we see our potential for transmuting everything even your own mind.
We can create habits from asana and meditation that actually help us avoid ourselves. Ask yourself…..Do I use my practices to avoid doing deep spiritual work? Am I afraid to look at myself fully? Do I feel guilty when I do not practice? Do I feel guilty if my practice is not what I expect or desire? These are the signs that asana or meditation has become a material practice for you instead of a spiritual one.
Keep up Your Mantra Practice.
One of the reasons that sacred mantra, mantras that have been used for thousands of years, are so significant is the related to practice. The use by others, hundred, thousands, even millions of times carves a deep groove in our collective consciousness. We can tap into this already established grooves and get the benefit of what has already been established. This is like going to the Grand Canyon. It has already been chiseled into its current form over hundreds of years, and we can just go to the rim, climb down, and jump right into the Colorado River. This is a much easier task than carving a new canyon, path, and river to follow. This is Samskara.
- OM or AUM
- I am love.
- I am abundant.
- I am truth.
- Everything is as it should be.
- I determine my own experience.
ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शांतिः शांतिः शांतिः ॥
लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो मवन्तु ॥
Lokāḥ Samastaḥ Sukhino Bhavantu॥
May all beings everywhere attain happiness and freedom.
Oṁ Asato Mā Sad Gamaya
Tamaso Mā Jyotir Gamaya
Mṛtyur Ma Amṛtam Gamaya
Oṁ Śāntiḥ Śāntiḥ Śāntiḥ
Lead me from the unreal to the real
From darkness to the light
From mortality to immorality
Om Peace Peace Peace
Begin with Love! End with Love!
Guide me to that which is in my highest good. Help me to distinguish what nourishes my soul and what deteriorates my being. Lead me down the path of wisdom so that I may show up fully in each moment. Let my study be enlightening and fruitful. Allow my practice to benefit all beings. – Namaste
Practice 5X Rounds. If you have more time start with Pavanamuktasana or do more rounds.
- Lie on you back, with your knees bent and heels close to the hips.
- Place your palms on your belly between the navel and bottom ribs with the tips of the middle fingers touching.
- Start Ujjayi Pranayama.
- Start to breath deep into the belly. Let the tips of the fingers move apart on inhalation. Hold the breath comfortably.
- Exhale completely, let the finger tips come back together. Pause, hold the breath comfortably.
- Continue for 5 Minutes.
Get comfortable in Savasana and listen to the Yoga Nidra audio file. You can practice Yoga Nidra anytime that you feel tired and need a quick recharge or when you want to relax, like before bed.
- Do I set aside time for uninterupted practice?
- Do I practice continually/daily?
- Am I keeping up my Mantra practice?
- Do I include mental discipline in my practice?
- Is my personality, my self-identification, preventing me from moving forward in my practice or spiritual growth? Am I Spiritually Bypassing?
What does this remind me of? Other stories, scriptures, or teachings.