Quiet Mind, Steady Body


Inner knowledge becomes effulgent of its own accord because it is always there, just as the sun on a cloudy day has not ceased to exist, but has only become obscured.  When the mind becomes quiescent the prana becomes steady; it is revealed.  The task is not to struggle for illumination, but only to quieten the mind and steady the body and its prana, then the light will inevitably shine forth. 

Hatha Yoga Pradipika  4:15, commentary

 

I have been reading this passage over and over again since I first came across it in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika last week. The mention of inner knowledge and sun merged in my mind and became “inner sun.”  INNER SUN.  Yep, it is still happening… I get this warm, comforting feeling when I think about having my own inner sun that is sometimes obscured, but never off.  I love sensing my own, personal radiating source of light and warmth.

The “inner knowledge” mentioned here is the True Self that I was talking about in the last post.  Another book I’m reading calls it our inner wisdom or authentic voice.  Maybe it is Soul.  Whatever name we give it, most of us know what it feels like to operate from that place.  Inner knowledge is the knowing that we can feel when we are acting and making choices from our deepest, unchanging True selves.

I have had many moments when I have felt connected to my Truth.  I feel it when I’m talking with a close and trusted friend and I’m able to be vulnerably honest about what is going on. When I see a difficult situation clearly, and my emotions become cues instead of brain-scramblers, I know I’m in it.  I have known that connection to my Truth in moments when I’m present and engaged with my girls, in a great yoga class, or when I’m making art.  I can be so completely engrossed with process and material that I don’t notice time passing.  I have a lot of energy, my activities are in line with my priorities and I feel connected. I feel authentic. I feel my inner sun, and it feels good.

In contrast, there are (…a-hem,) many times when confusion takes over.  My mind is so cloudy that I can’t figure out what my Truth is telling me.  I get the sense that it isn’t even there.  I waffle on my decisions.  I really don’t know if what I’m doing is the right thing.  I don’t trust myself. I feel disconnected.

Before I started thinking in Inner Knowledge-terms, this inner sun of mine seemed to have some faulty wiring.  Bad circumstance, stress or a mood seemed to shut off my inner sun. Sometimes, getting wrapped up in the idea that I have to “work hard” for everything that I want to do, be, or have can disconnect me.  It seemed to take a pretty big jolt of external juice (my girls, friends, really good luck…) to get it going again and that jolt is unpredictable because it comes from an external source.  I need a more solid connection.  No more faulty wires.

Patanjali, and many other yogis, say that with practice we can live in a way that is connected to our inner knowledge, our inner sun.  We are responsible for and have the ability to affect the strength of our own connection to our Inner Knowledge.  We can’t depend on someone or something else to do it for us.   Mr. Desikachar’s translation and commentary on Yoga Sutra 1.14 explains:

It is only when the correct practice is followed for a long time, without interruptions and with a quality of positive attitude and eagerness, that it can succeed. 

It seems so simple.  The task is not to struggle for illumination, but only to quieten the mind and steady the body and its prana, then the light will inevitably shine forth.  We turn down the mental chatter and keep our bodies healthy so that we can see the Inner Knowledge that is within, and we approach the practice with enthusiasm and a good attitude.

How we go about steadying and quieting is different for each of us.  Our yoga practices will look a little different, or maybe it doesn’t look like yoga at all.  Whatever it is, it takes some self-refection to figure out how to nurture your steady mind (one that can focus on the things you choose to focus on) and what kinds of food, activity and rest support you in having a healthy body so you can use it to do the things you want to do.  If we know ourselves well and give ourselves a little time every day, then that light will inevitably shine forth.

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