Does it ever feel like life is filled with, “When x happens, then y will happen”? When I recently returned from vacation, it was only a couple of hours before I found myself wishing that I was headed back out on holiday again. I even had the thought, “When I go on vacation, then I will really be able to relax,” and I had just returned! I was shocked to find out how quickly my mind had slipped into planning mode and other thoughts like, “When I get home after work, then I will feel better. When the weather is warmer, then I will exercise more and be able to get back into shape." It doesn't take much for us to act as if what we are looking for in life is somewhere else or sometime in the future. Like John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”
On one hand, preparations and planning are necessary and it does no good to condemn ourselves when our sweet little egos try to protect themselves with planning. On the other hand, all we are searching for is here, and when we truly know THAT, we are less impacted by the constant mental acrobatics. How to we make sense of this? The Yoga Sutras give us great insight into this point.
Yoga Sutra 1.2
Yoga is when we abide in and as our True Nature – Stillness- that is without movement, whether the mind, which is the movement of thought, is in movement or not. (Translation by Richard Miller)
When we find ourselves battered with too many thoughts or caught in planning mode, it can be helpful to recall that even unruly or unpleasant thinking can serve as a pointer to what IS. While most translations of this yoga sutra simply state that “yoga is the cessation of the movements of the mind,” I prefer Richard Miller’s translation. Simply put, it feels more accurate: a welcoming of what IS. Instead of doing battle with my thoughts and trying to get them to be still, quiet, or more spacious, I can simply set thinking free and rest in the backdrop of what IS. Of course, the ego has preferences, it would like the mind to be calm, and peaceful and still. Thank goodness that we are so much more than our minds! The stillness spoken of here is subtle and visceral. Next time you notice your planning mode or are feeling the mind spitting out thought after thought, see what happens if you settle into the background. This is where a short body scan can really help. Feeling first into the physical body, helps us begin to make contact with what IS. Note, both the tensions and the softness of the body are felt with quiet curiosity. While the thoughts come and go, is it possible to feel into what else is present?
I'm back home again, and I've always been here.
Standing at the base of the ski slope, waiting for my friend, and the waiting happens in This.
Eating strange food in a dark tavern in a foreign land and the new tastes are coagulations in This and as This.
Smiles and joy bursting forth while the sled dogs yip and howl as we prepare the sleds for mushing; all unfolds in This and as This.
Back outside my apartment, the morning after a long flight, the seagulls float on the river current in one direction and fly back in the opposite direction to float down the river again. They fly and land and float and This unfolds in them and as them.
Life is so full of happenings, arising from This, moving through This, superimposed on This.
I am back home again, and I've always been here.
Angela is a treasure at Flow. She leads our Hatha Yoga and our Yoga Nidra classes and has a private Psychotherapy Practice in DC.