“Yoga is the process of dehypnotism” Shri Brahmananda Saraswati
This month the underpinning ideas of our practices were stability (shtira) and joy (sukkah), as embodied in parivritta trikonasana, the Rotated Triangle. We nurtured a balanced and activated foundation in the legs and feet, which provided the opportunity to then “reach out” with the upper body, leading with the heart and extending out into the world around us. In practice on the mat it can be just that simple – an intention to connect to planet earth well, and an intention to extend that experience of connectedness (which is love) into the world around us. With patience, the body will follow where the mind leads.
Here is the crown jewel in all of this. The stability and joy doesn’t really need to be cultivated at all. They are already within you, waiting to be revealed. They are aspects of your true nature, svarūpe. The experienced yogin stands in their true nature. To stand in one’s true nature is to be yoked (yoga’d!) to your essence. Our ability to root our feet, activate our legs and extend our hearts and our arms will reflect how well we are yoked to our true nature in any moment. The more we are yoked to our true nature internally, the more we will experience joy which creates activation, extension and rootedness in a posture. It is a process. For most of us, still buffeted by the fluctuations of our minds, there will be a fluttering throughout any posture when the stability fluctuates.
A friend recently pointed out the degree to which the current state of affairs on planet earth is surfacing our shadows and much projecting on one another is occurring. It is a prime time to become aware of our inner stability. The media and perhaps those around us are posing powerful influences. Using a wide variety of means to manipulate the stuff of our minds, they bombard us with opinions, accusations and suggested terrors. We all have ways of dealing with this. I have a friend who seems to be immersing herself in horror stories. Catharsis! The fear is expelled, but the conditioning of vulnerability remains. Yoga suggests, instead, that we dehypnotize ourselves through the process of unplugging from externals and plugging instead into the reservoir of peace and joy which is accessed through the silence in our mind. Yes, we can stay connected to peace with our eyes open, even when a disagreement is going on. That is the power of yoga.
So how do we practice this? Self-observation. The moment we catch ourselves fluctuating, we stop and make it a point to detach from what is coming at us from the outside and anchor in to something inside. We develop a habit. Say that someone around you does not like your political stance or your mask choice. They direct angry energy at you, it is quite intense. For most of us the first reaction is likely to be retaliation. Any action we take which emerges from the small self will have limited effectiveness. The actions we take while connected to our inner resources will have limitless effectiveness. If I’m not anchored in myself and I shout back, I may get the person to go away for a while, but it’s likely to be temporary. The same issue will arise again. If instead we choose to stand silent in our truth, extending love all the while, our actions will extend out to hearts and minds and in ways we cannot see.
Consider taking the knee (a graceful and magnificent gesture of support and love) vs. burning down a building. The first extends love and changes hearts. The second inspires nothing and demands a retaliation. Taking the knee is an expression of svarūpe. The first is a manifestation of fear and disconnection. There are those who would like us to remain forever fluctuating, buffeted and hypnotized into fear and submission. Yoga teaches that we can break away from that influence and choose to stand in love, instead. In that breakaway our inner freedom is ensured. Only Love is truly sovereign. Only love (in all it’s flavors, truth, joy, sweetness etc.) is svarūpe. We can train ourselves to choose and we can train ourselves to be steady in remaining unplugged from external influences. (and by the way, we can train throughout every day, not just in the big events. Lakshmi, the cat who lives with me, forever tries to press me to be at her beck and call at all times. It is a herculean effort to stay connected within and take care of everything else which needs to be done! But I grow stronger and her efforts to communicate become more skillful all the time.