Finding the state of freedom within solitude


“In the same way, one can also contemplate each stage of an Asana or each movement of breath in order to bring the citta to a state of desirelessness. If consciousness is kept free from desire, it becomes pure. Mere withdrawal from the world does not in itself achieve this aim.” Excerpt From Commentary on Sūtra I.37,

Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali,

B. K. S. Iyengar.

 

There is a space of “wilderness” within which can be accessed through practice....

“We enter solitude, in which also we lose loneliness…

True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation.

One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate sources.

In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.” —Wendell Berry

 


Past pain is finished, future pain can be and should be avoided.

II.16 heyam duhkham anāgatam “the pains which are yet to come can be and are to be avoided.”

“Past pain is finished. Pain we are in the process of experiencing cannot be avoided, but can be reduced to some extent by yogic practice and discriminative knowledge. Unknown future pains can be prevented by adhering now to yogic discipline.” Light on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, Yogācārya BKS Iyengar. Translation and commentary on Sūtra 11.16.

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In Iyengar Yoga classes students learn discipline, learn to pay attention to one’s actions, learn to see the results of one’s actions, learn discrimination, and this leads to the ability to practice to heal and overcome one’s afflictions and prevent future pains. Alignment within the poses, alignment of the sequences, the way the class is set up, the way we use props, instructions, etc, everything is done purposely to help the students transform and develop skills ultimately to experience “yoga.” “...Yoga is a preventative healing art, science, and philosophy, by which we build up robust health in body and mind and construct a defensive strength with which to deflect or counteract afflictions that are as yet unperceived afflictions..”

 “Faith, in its broadest sense, is about far more than belief in the existence of God or the disregard of scientific evidence. Faith is the willingness to give ourselves over, at times, to things we do not fully understand. Faith is the belief in things larger than ourselves. Faith is the ability to honor stillness at some moments and at others to ride the passion and exuberance that is the artistic impulse, the flight of the imagination, the full engagement with this strange and shimmering world.”

—Alan Lightman, physicist


1.20 śraddhā vīrya smrti samādhiprajña pūrvakah itaresām “Practice must be pursued with trust, confidence, vigor, keen memory and power of absorption to break this spiritual complacency.” ....”Śraddhā should not be understood simply as faith. It also conveys mental and intellectual firmness...Interestingly, Patañjali’s first use of the word śraddha is explicitly to encourage the sādhaka to intensify his sādhana in order to reach the highest goal. The natural trust of the aspirant is confirmed by revelation, and transformed into the faith which permeates the consciousness of practitioners in any field of art, science, and philosophy. If trust is instinctive, faith is intuitional.” Yogācārya B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali.


What would it take

to see everything

that is happening

as asking for our awakening?

 Kapotāsana - pigeon pose 

Kapotāsana - pigeon pose 

Oneness

SINGULARITY

by Marie Howe (after Stephen Hawking)

Do you sometimes want to wake up to the singularity

we once were?

so compact nobody

needed a bed, or food or money —

nobody hiding in the school bathroom

or home alone

pulling open the drawer

where the pills are kept.

For every atom belonging to me as good

Belongs to you. Remember?

There was no Nature. No

them. No tests

to determine if the elephant

grieves her calf or if

the coral reef feels pain. Trashed

oceans don’t speak English or Farsi or French;

would that we could wake up to what we were

— when we were ocean and before that

to when sky was earth, and animal was energy, and rock was

liquid and stars were space and space was not

at all — nothing

before we came to believe humans were so important

before this awful loneliness.

Can molecules recall it?

what once was? before anything happened?

No I, no We, no one. No was

No verb no noun

only a tiny tiny dot brimming with

is is is is is

All everything home

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Eka Pada Śīrsāsana ~~ one leg head pose

There are poses to explore very very carefully all on one’s own, on a day off from taking care of others... Times to both forget oneself and to vigilantly take care.

In the early years of study with my teacher, he didn’t say much to me, but I do remember how he’d say “take care.” I wanted to become a teacher to help other people.  He kept pointing me to the fact it was needed to first learn how to take care of myself and to face my problems with practice— whether back pain or depression.  This must come first because it’s the basis to gain real experience and wisdom to share with others. When someone who has been there is showing the way and keeps telling you it is possible and you eventually trust them to go there in your practice and face all that you were hiding from, that becomes a tremendous gift. It’s more than the solution of those problems of the present.

The gift of self-understanding gained through practice later belongs to the universe. It doesn’t belong to any one of us.

Practicing with Faith and Detaching with Love

 “The mind is certainly its own cosmos. As Milton wrote in Paradise Lost, “[The mind] can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven.” In our constant search for meaning in this baffling and temporary existence, trapped as we are within our three pounds of neurons, it is sometimes hard to tell what is real. We often invent what isn’t there. Or ignore what is. We try to impose order, both in our minds and in our conceptions of external reality. We try to connect. We try to find truth. We dream and we hope. And underneath all of these strivings, we are haunted by the suspicion that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the whole.” -Alan Lightman

 Marichyasana 1 (early stage) Pose of Sage Marichi 

Marichyasana 1 (early stage) Pose of Sage Marichi 

  “Whether or not we reach the goal in this life, the journey in yoga to self-culture is itself worth the effort: we all want refinement in our intelligence and progress in our way of thinking... Only the practitioner, if [s]he practices with faith and renounces with love, will discover the truth.” Yogācārya B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali,  epilogue.

Finding the way

 “Good work finds the way between pride and despair.

It graces with health. It heals with grace.

It preserves the given so that it remains a gift.

By it, we lose loneliness:

we clasp the hands of those who go before us, and the hands of those who come after us;

we enter the little circle of each other’s arms,

and the larger circle of lovers whose hands are joined in a dance,

and the larger circle of all creatures, passing in and out of life, who move also in a dance, to a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it except in fragments.”

—Wendell Berry

 Eka Pāda Viparita Dandāsana — one legged staff pose  

Eka Pāda Viparita Dandāsana — one legged staff pose  

 

“Sadhana is a methodical, sequential means to accomplish the sādhaka’s (practitioner, seeker) aims in life. The sadhaka’s aims are right duty (dharma), a rightful purpose and means (artha), right inclinations (kāma), and ultimate release or emancipation (moksha).”

—Yogācārya B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali 

 

The paths of teachers and students are threaded and linked together. My teacher leads the way to evolve into the future. To help my students progress and overcome their difficulties, sometimes its necessary to recall the steps and sequence by which I overcame what they are facing: looking to the past to remember, then practicing, innovating, and teaching for needs of the students in the present, who will later serve the generation of the future. In this way the wisdom acquired through the trials and struggles of the past become a gift to bequethe the future.

Losing the small self, finding the larger self in Play

“When we are self-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware; we must throw ourselves out first. This throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity. So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves....” Madeleine L’Engle

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“The most important thing is practice in daily life that is how we can gradually get to know the true value of whatever teaching we follow.

What we need is a good heart, a disciplined mind and a healthy body. We will not transform ourselves merely by making wishes, but through working hard over a long period of time.” The Dalai Lama, in the Foreword to “Core of the Yoga Sūtras” by B.K.S. Iyengar.