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Yoga Crystallizes the Mind

If you’re like me, you may be suffering from information overload and asking yourself, “What should I do?” or “What can I do?,” when it comes to the constant conflict we see around us. Social media has a tendency to amplify things and sometimes that is good. Deep grieving or anger that leads to intelligent and compassionate action are all beneficial results of this exposure; that is, if we are able to take it all in and digest it. We often think of digestion as related to our stomach, but we also take in information through our senses. The yogi sages knew this model of the mind by experiencing it, thousands of years before the MRI. They couldn’t have anticipated this constant overflow to our senses that we experience every day, but their skills still come in handy today.

By self-regulating our senses, body and mind, yoga allows us to check in with ourselves and to empower ourselves. It also allows us the space to clarify our thoughts and react in the most impactful way. What does being in the midst of this conflict tell you about your values? What does it expose about your discomfort? Listen to those signs and signals within that tell you what to do. Maybe it is to speak out. Maybe it is to write to your government representatives. Maybe it is to create art or to study things further to get better informed. For some people, even disengaging may be the best thing to do if you have had past traumatic experiences. The good thing is that yoga reinforces our agency. You get to decide something, at least!

Our yoga does not stop at ourselves. It also concerns what our communities are doing. Are our political leaders being truthful? Are they acting out of delusion? Are they acting out of the principle of ahimsa, not only trying to reduce harm but also proactively supporting human flourishing. My hope is that we all take the time to reflect and do what is most important in this moment. The mantra that is often titled as Saha Navavatu comes to mind. It comes from the Taittriya Upanishad and is often used at the start of a new class or new venture. When reading it for the first time, I was stopped in my tracks with the realization of how powerful and endearing it is. To chant together in any endeavor may help us to put our egos aside and do what is best. Check out the chant as sung by a native voice at the link above. You can search in YouTube and you will find many versions. According to my Vedic chanting instructors, correctly chanting the sounds makes it more powerful. When we focus our minds more, it helps to crystallize our attention and helps us to do what is needed and beneficial.

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