Meditation benefits: The Source of Joy and Sorrow

The mind is the source of joy and sorrow.

Patanjali sutras

Patanjali sutras on the source of joy and sorrow

In the Yoga sutras, Patanjali explains, by cultivating a practice of meditation a student begins to develop a calm and clear mind, and as the practice evolves the still mind can focus on both the subtle and gross objects. The highest goal spirituality or meditation is to awaken to the true nature of things and discover the cause of suffering at the individual and collective level. To implement a cure for our suffering, Patanjali reminds us, we must awaken to our own true nature.

All sorrow lies at the core of our being, deep within us, and it’s here that the cure can only be found. Unless you can shine the light of awareness on the deepest parts of your inner being, your search for emotional freedom will be confined to external factors, where they can never be found.

Most of us know how precious and wonderful life is and that we should not waste it. Yet somehow we manage to pass each day lost in the fog of the unconsciousness. Sometimes events awaken and motivate us to participate, and even then despite our good intentions, we found ourselves slipping back into the unconscious and mundane.

Though we have the powerful spiritual teachings and the words of wisdom from the great seers and teachers, we find ourselves only looking to external causes for unhappiness and sickness, instead of placing our vision on the underlying subtle and more potent causes. As a result we hold someone or something in the outer world responsible for all our problems. Patanjali, in the sutras, ask and answers why.

The sutras teach that we are what we think, that the core of our being is made up of our belief system, our inner tendencies and habitual patterns that make up and define our personalities. It’s out of these personal tendencies and patterns that our mindset arises. While at the level of our soul we contain the essence of the Divine, in our everyday existence our mindset create our reality, good or bad, happy or sad, filled with suffering or imbued with joy. We perceive (and therefore create) our reality based on our mindset. It is from this perception that our patterns of likes and dislikes, our conditioned world, grows.

It’s through the repeated actions that our mental impressions grow stronger and stronger creating, what Vedanta describes as, deep groves in the mind-field, called samsara. This effect in the mind-field is also known as the wheel of karma. And once we are caught up in these perceptions the grooves deepen and the wheel spins faster and our only opportunity to disrupt this pattern is to bring awareness to our fundamental perceptions, our likes and dislikes. This is the level of true transcendence and transformation and the only way to bring fundamental and lasting change to all aspects of our lives.

This is why, according to Patanjali, the highest form of meditation is on self-awareness, and why enlightenment is understood to be self-realization. When we still our minds we have then have to power to become whatever and whomever we wish. We accomplish this when we transcend our judgments (likes and dislikes), our aversions and attachments. It’s from this place of transcendence, that the clear awareness of what lies at the core of our being allows us to discern what we need to release, and give us the courage to do it.

Patanjali, through the sutras, shows us that meditation on our real nature takes us into the subtlest realms of our being, the birthplace of all our suffering and with this knowledge we can end it. This clear, still and peaceful state of mind is called samadhi (the most subtle being sabija samadhi, meditation on prakriti), a state of total spiritual absorption.  

Yes, the mind is the source of joy and sorrow. Patanjali, through the sutras, shows us how to shine our inner light of awareness on the source allowing us to directly experience the truth and attain liberation.

One of my favorite translations and commentaries is,The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali by Alistair Shearer.” 

If you found this article useful … please click the LIKE button below to share it on Facebook.

Meditation Benefits: Asanas are not all there is to Yoga

Asanas are not all there is to Yoga

Asanas are not all there is to Yoga

Asanas are not all there is to Yoga. For the few who may not know the ‘asana’ (meaning posture) are the poses that are generically referred in Western pop culture as Yoga. The asana is the third ‘limb’ (anga) of the sage Patanjali’s eight limbs of Yoga known as Ashtanga Yoga.

Bhartendu Sood, in his article, in the editorial page of “Times of India,” makes exactly this point, and that in practicing only the asanas one is practicing only one limb of Yoga. While practicing the postures will keep you fit and toned, if they are practiced with only that intention, fitness and good health will be the only benefit. A great one to be sure, but not one that will awaken you to your Divine nature.

Mr. Sood explains what is involved in walking the path set out by Patanjali, so here’s Mr. Sood…

The eight stages of ashtanga yoga are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratihara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. The five yamas are non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy and non-covetousness. The five niyamas are cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self-study and surrender to God. Sage Patanjali expected seekers to embrace yama and niyama before coming to the third stage, asana. The eightfold path is to take the practitioner towards moral, physical and spiritual uplift. The ultimate aim of yoga is spiritual realisation or samadhi via mind and body.

Pranayama is control of breath; it purifies and removes distractions, facilitating concentration and meditation. Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses during meditation that enables you to focus on the Supreme Power and establish a cosmic link. Dharana is to concentrate on one point for a considerable length of time. The aim is to still the mind by gently pushing away superfluous thoughts. Dhyana is uninterrupted meditation without an object.

The eight limbs work together: The first five steps – yama, niyama, asana, pranayama and pratyahara – are the preliminaries of yoga and they build the foundation for spiritual life with body and brain. The last three, which would not be possible without the previous steps, are concerned with reconditioning the mind. They help the yogi to attain enlightenment.

Samadhi or enlightenment can be achieved only when we follow these eight stages in the order prescribed by Patanjali. A yogi acquires equanimity and a detached outlook before developing a flat tummy or toned body.

Training of the mind brings equanimity. It is a mental state that looks with equal ease at happiness and sorrow, at misery and luxury, and treats success and failure alike. It looks at the world and happenings around with an open mind, free of biases, fears and has only good and positive thoughts.

The Bhagavad Gita describes yoga as a state of equanimity, achieved by cultivating a detached but unified outlook, serenity of mind, skill in action and the ability to stay attuned to the glory of the Self or atman and the Supreme or Bhagavan.

According to Krishna, the root of all suffering and discord is the agitation of mind caused by selfish desire. The only way to douse the flame of desire is by simultaneously stilling the mind through self-discipline and engaging in a higher form of activity. Yamas and niyamas speak of this self-restraint and discipline, underlining that asanas without yamas and niyamas are simply exercises.

Traversing the path of yoga is not that easy since it calls for lot of restraint, discipline and devotion. It is not good to skip the first two steps in order to begin with asanas. There is nothing wrong in it but it can’t be named yoga and we ought to be aware of its limitation when it comes to making a person spiritual. Read more…

Mr. Sood points out that the first five steps are preliminary steps need to reach the final three. This true, but there is a deeper truth. It is true that there is a sequence to the eight limbs which makes up the daily practice and that total samadhi is the result of the previous seven limbs being fully developed, however, there are different levels of samadhi. Samadhi means a completely still or settled mind, and the first stage of samadhi (samprajnata), is the initial settling down of the mind, that right from the beginning of the practice, helps bring together the practice of all eight limbs.

Even these early stages of samadhi are very beneficial for the mind body system and move the practitioner closer to total absorption.

The whole process of Yoga is to unite the separate individual self with the Universals self. Yoga is the practice of reentering our original state, the state of perfection, a state of perfect self-realization. Knowing this it’s easy to understand that asanas are not all there is to Yoga.

If you would like the message of meditation to spread, please click the LIKE button below share this article on Facebook.