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I like it better this way


YSP 1.3: tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam

With the attainment of focused mind, the inner being establishes itself in all its reality.

Trans: Bernard Bouanchaud

Then the ability to understand the object fully and correctly is apparent.

Trans: Desikachar

The identity of one changes with how one perceives reality

  • Vithu Jeyaloganathan

Bernard Bouanchaud asks his readers the question “How can we know that we are perceiving reality through the inner being? What makes others recognize this in someone? ”

The promise of yoga is that it is possible to live at a higher level of consciousness where we see reality without distortions to our perceptions. I don’t know if I’ve had a lot of those moments but I certainly know when I’m NOT operating at that level.

The other day I had a “total jackass” moment. First of all, to set the stage, it was late in the evening. Between the cardiac condition I currently enjoy and the medications I’m on to treat it, I’m a basket case by the end of the day. I’m tired, physically, mentally and emotionally. Honestly, in the interests of world peace, I should be locked in a closet every night after supper, or certainly not allowed to roam the streets without adult supervision.

In any event, without boring everyone with the hideous details of my spectacular failure at discernment, I got into this exchange with another person at a time when I wasn’t operating at a sense of clarity. With some degree of reason, she interpreted my initial words as an attack on her, her credentials, her professionalism and in some respects, her identity. In my right mind, I would have handled the situation more deftly but like I said, I was at less than my best. It hadn’t been my intention but I was in full flight of total gracelessness.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you’ve said something just insurmountably stupid and there’s NO pulling it back? And the more you try to explain, the worse you make it. The other night, that was me busy digging my own grave with my mouth.

When I got back into the car, my husband said “That took you a long time.”

“Not really. Two minutes to get the form. The other 20 minutes was me trying to pull my feet out of my mouth and apologize.”

“Uh-huh… what did you do this time?”

It is not unfamiliar territory for me. In fact, there have been plenty of occasions when I’ve projected myself into the world as being brusque, uncaring, cynical, impatient, arrogant, angry, difficult, haughty, chastising, critical and superior. And sometimes, all of this before breakfast. It’s not who I really am but it is me when I’m in the clenches of ‘mind fluctuations’. I have memories of other epic failures in diplomacy that still make me cringe 30 years after the fact.

Yoga promises to help clean all that mess up. Working from my true self, I’m a lot nicer person to be around. I’m more supportive and I come across as more caring. I’m more pleasant. I make better decisions. I’m a better wife, mother, co-worker and employee.

This isn’t just me making crap up. Everyone I’ve been around likes to be around me much more since I took up yoga. Frankly, I like being around me much more since I took up yoga. To hell with nirvana, samadhi, or any of the other things yoga speaks of later in the sutras. Being able to stand my own company is reason enough to keep practicing.

The thing is, I haven’t changed. I haven’t added anything. I was always big hearted, sensitive, with a slightly absurd sense of humour. I was just really good at hiding it, for a lot of reasons: fear, insecurity, and a few hundred of those other mind-fluctuations.

The other night reminded me of how messed up I can get when I’m in the maelstrom of mind-fluctuations and how much easier my life is when I’ve found some small sliver of clarity. Clarity is much nicer.

The next aphorism fits into this one nicely. It’s a discussion about what happens if we decide against clearing up the mind. Scholars link these four aphorisms together as a block. Essentially, they read as a group. What I take away from this block most frequently when I read it is the notion of ‘choice’. I have a choice here. I can chose to clear up my mind’s activities or I can chose to live in the whirlwind of my thoughts. I made a choice for clarity, because even a little, tiny bit of it is better than none at all.

Thanks for reading and Namaste,

Kate

A general note: This blog is to help me integrate the philosophical teachings of Yoga into my daily life. I’m not an expert on Sanskrit, Yoga or Life in general. My teacher Kathryn Downton provided an important part of my education in these matters but I read voraciously on these topics. I’ll credit her for the parts that I get right and I’ll own the parts I mess up. I try to acknowledge my sources where I can but frankly, I haven’t kept good notes over the years on where I got this stuff. These discussions are one person’s perspective and not an intellectual treatise on the nature of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This is exploration and not explanation.

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About Kate MacKay

I'm a certified Viniyoga teacher, in Fredericton, NB. I was a 9-1-1 operator and emergency services dispatcher for 22 years. Surprisingly, the two worked well together, or as I liked to put it, from the sublime to the ridiculous -- all in a day's work. I'm currently off work as a result of a stress-induced cardiac condition that's thrown a few crimps in my lifestyle. I'm not actively teaching yoga in the classroom right now and probably won't for several more months. That said, this blog is one of the forms of practice I can do and I thank you for joining me in this exploration of all things yoga.

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