vyādhi-styāna-saṃśaya-pramāda-ālasya-a-virati-bhrānti-darśana-a-labdha-bhūmikatva-an-avasthitatva, citta-vikṣepa, tad, antarāya
- Sickness, density, doubt, carelessness, lethargy, sexual preoccupation, error in perception, failure to obtain grounding, and instability are obstacles to our Self. – CT
- Disease, dullness, doubt, carelessness, laziness, sensuality, false perception, failure to reach firm ground and slipping from the ground gained – these distractions of the mind – stuff are the obstacles. -SS
- These disturbances are disease, idleness, doubt, carelessness, sloth, lack of detachment, misapprehension, failure to attain a base for concentration, and instability. They are distractions for the mind. -EFB
In Sanskrit, when you have a list, it is often understood that the first in the list is the most important and leads to the next in line.
The first obstacle that Patanjali describes is physical disease. Disease makes you dull, dense of mind. Denseness leads to doubt and doubt to carelessness, and carelessness to laziness. Laziness is a lack of interest and awareness that makes one ungrounded and may cause one to back slide in there evolution. All of these obstacles have the quality of tamas guna.
I think these obstacles are perfectly place in our path. They require us to express our level of commitment, discipline, surrender and devotion. They are a bit like tests, that you must pass, before you level up (in prakriti).
I think that this sutra really gives insight into the global interest of modern postural yoga. You must master each level of purusa to move to the next. You must first find balance in your physical body, which is not you alone, but is as much you as anything else, before you can work on your mind. If your body is sick, diseased, out of balance, or un-healthy in anyway then it will be an obstacle to working with your mind. It will cause your mind to be clouded with neurotic thoughts about the body or depression.
Taking your seat.
With this sutra in mind, it is a good time to re-evaluate our sitting posture. When you come to take your seat you want to make sure that you have made yourself quite comfortable so that minimal effort is needed to keep the spine erect. Use props; blanket, blocks, cushions or stools so that it is easy for you to sit upright. If you are stiff or agitated do pavanamuktasana or another movement practice to encourage a natural flow of energy in the body by removing any blockages. If your knees are higher than your hips sit on something.
It is important to sit upright not just for the health of our spine or physical body, but for the lengthening and opening of the Sushumna Nadi, the central channel, the most important energetic channel in the body. When this channel is kinked or blocked then energy can not travel uninterrupted, causing obstacles to our self-realization.
Going back to yesterday and the descent of Divine Grace. This grace descends down the central channel as the energy of creation or transmutation. This is considered an involution of Supreme Consciousness. Divine Grace stirs the kundalini, dormant energy dwelling in the Muladhara chakra at the base of the spine, which then rises through the body, through prakrti, as an evolution, rising back to the Divine. Then begins again as the divine cycle of creation, preservation, and dissolution, that is always occurring in the Supreme as well as in each individual aspect of the Consciousness.
Back to your seat. Once you have found a regal, upright posture do a small cobra pose, lengthen your spine, lift and broaden your chest, squeeze the shoulders together behind your back. Then let the body fall back to a natural seat, with a long spine of course. Let your shoulders stack over the hips and your chin to drop ever so slightly opening the back of the neck.
Take the time each time you sit to feel into your physical body. Notice where your body meets the floor or the cushion. Notice where the air is touching your skin. Notice the sensations inside your body, giving each one its necessary attention.
After surveying your body, start to relax. Relax your muscles and your face. Relax your skin, all of your cells, and even the space around your body. Let your sense of self expand and become permeable. Keep your mind alert, draw your attention in, releasing your awareness of the objects of your senses inducing the “concepts” of the mind. Turn your awareness, like a flashlight, to the object of your meditation.
Sankalpa is a sanskrit word that means intention. What is your intention? What is your motivation for practice? Write it down and say it outloud every time you begin.
Practice 10X Rounds
- Use your mantra.
- Say your mantra to yourself 5 times out loud.
- Say your mantra in a whisper 5 times.
- Say your mantra silently in your mind 5 times.
*When you catch your mind engaged in an activity that you find harmful, use your mantra to reset your mind.
Dirga Pranayam is the full Yogic Breath.
- Start ujjayi, create a nice long breath, balancing the inhalation and exhalation.
- Visualize in the space between the bottom of your ribs and your navel as the central point of your being.
- As you inhale feel the energetic body expanding out, spherically, in all directions. (3-Dimensionally)
- Pause-Kumbhaka- spontaneously
- Let the exhale come naturally, feel the energetic body contracting back into the body at the central point of your being.
- Kumbhaka -spontaneous pause.
- Reapeat for 5 minutes noticing the feeling of continual expanding and contracting of your being in a rhythmic way.
- Draw your attention into yourself. Removing your awareness of the objects of your senses.
- Focus your minds eye on your object of meditation or on OM.
- Practice for 10 minutes.
- When you feel your mind wander be so gentle in bringing it back. *Remember we are like infants in this journey. Treat yourself as you would your own child.
In Dirga Pranayama and Japa of the Pranava Mantra we feel the pulse of creation. The pulse of the Divine. It is sometimes discribed as the blinking of the eyes of the Divine, every time the eye opens the universe unfolds, every time they close the universe dissolves. The Sanskrit term is spanda, the rhythmic expanding and contracting of Supreme Consciousness, the primordial vibration. This vibration is the source that consciousness becomes all creation. Can you feel the rhythm of the beating heart of the Divine?
- What is your sankalpa?
- Do you experience any of these distractions for the mind?
- Is your physical body a distraction in meditation?
- What is your experience, with Spanda, in your pranayama or meditation practice?