going mental

Most models of the human being include some sort of definition of the mental body, the intellect, the brain or what have you. The workings of the mind are puzzled and pored over, worshipped and rejected in turn. It is the source of greatness and of suffering, and a lot of drivel in between. 

When we practice yoga we look at quieting the 'monkey mind', that which chatters incessantly and ruminates into exhaustion. In fact yoga itself is 'stilling the movements of the mind' according to some commentators. 'yogascitta vritti nirodah'. And yet the commentary of the Yoga Sutras by the Ishayas presents the following interpretation : "Yoga is the non-identification with the movements of the mind". Would it not be better that, rather than forcing the mind into some sort of stillness, we were able to take a step back and watch its meandering without identifying with it?

Even in savasana, when the hard work of asanas is done we often think of 'doing' relaxation. As a concept 'letting go' is useless. It tethers us tighter to the notion that we can control every aspect of our being. Of course when we go deeper in our practice we begin to see that this is impossible, we cannot control it all. Sudden shifts take place in their own time, just as does respiration, as does circulation, as does digestion. The various aspects that make up our human being work at various different rhythms and the mind is quicksilver, a lightening bolt: marvellous and dangerous in turn. Can we admire it from a distance?


I am delighted to be starting a masters degree in the Traditions of Yoga and Meditation come september. It is a privilege to be introduced to the great works that inform the path we're on. This dance between academic study and physical practice, stimulus and stillness, is an infusion I've been curious to taste and I thank my teachers and partner and family for supporting me. 

Above all I am looking forward to sharing what I learn in the wider community to which we all belong.