11 October 2019

smriti: memory

                                 Image result for sufi quote on meditation

how is smriti a merit?

There is more than one way. 

The faculty of memory definitely improves. More and more. Which really contradicts everything that I first believed about memory. Part of this is that our senses become more acute. And, more memory than what we realise, is absorbed via our senses. This is part of becoming Whole, Complete. 

rather than looking at yoga, or any spiritual journey, as "letting go" of everything to do with oneself, it can instead be a journey of becoming truly complete. Anything not needed for this will naturally fall by the wayside

Swami Sivananda wrote that an improved memory is a prerequisite to dharana, which is concentration. Here we are talking about concentration in meditation. And in this context we could say that this is what smriti is actually about. In the practice of meditation, most usually there is a focus aspect. This can be many things:
  • it can be as simple as mentally repeating a sound, known in yoga as a mantra. This is what Transcendental Meditation is based on. As indeed, are many other yoga systems. It is not uncommon for a meditation mantra to be given according to one's Astrology sign.
  • focus on not being involved with the inner fluctuations, the chitta vrittis
  • the breath
  • a psychic pathway
  • the inner spiritual spaces, known as akasha
  • a symbol. This can be a personal symbol, usually it is the symbol of our psyche in this incarnation and is based on the Yoga astrological symbols for meditation. You might be doing something like a chakra symbol. And, also common, is the use of personal deity. Our God or Goddess for this lifetime, and this too, is based on astrology 

So, how does memory work with all of this?  Ah, the fascinating part. Whilst we are doing the first part of our meditation, the sound, breath, pathway, etc, the idea is to 
  • be relaxed. When we go deep inside of our selves, and we are tense, it's then chaos inside, and this is not pleasant. In my view and experience, this is quite destructive. We are creating memories that when ever we meditate, difficult feelings and thoughts will manifest, for, 

whatever we do, over and over, that creates the same result, at the same time, creates strong memory tracts via the nervous system

  • whilst we are doing our "technique", we allow whatever comes up within, to come and go. We are allowing the chitta vrittis, the manifestations of "mind", both superficial and deep, to express themselves, then pass by. This, in itself, is very powerful, and is one of the basic tenets of Raja Yoga, the path of Meditation. For, by not "adding to" whatever arises, we are clearing ourselves of whatever is blocking our True Nature from being revealed. 
  • the next step is to moving into relaxed focus of our symbol, or deity, and of course, this might be our actual technique. Still allowing things to come and go.
  • the next step, at the end of our techniques, is to be present. Just Be. At this stage, we may have entered a space, or place, of absolute equanimity. Energised, yet peaceful. Often this stage is not adhered to, however, it is important to cultivate the memory of it, for then it will slowly, bit by bit, become established in the rest of our life. It might only be for ten seconds to start with, but in time may well actually become our meditation technique.
Because you've developed the memory of this stage, it becomes easier and easier to slip into. We reach the stage where we close our eyes, and immediately, we are "there".

Such is the power and grace of smriti.
And, in this way, we are on the journey to becoming established in our own true nature, which is what yoga, and any spiritual system, is about. 

30 September 2019

the four merits, part 2

                                      Image result for sufi quotes on karma 

smriti: memory as a vritti

Patanjali has previously spoken about memory, as being one of the five vrittis.

We can look at a vritti as being a pattern of consciousness. These patterns are involved with memory on many levels, both seen and unseen. They are embedded in our whole being, from:
  • DNA. Handed down via the family line. Sometimes you will meet people who have never known one of their parents, yet have their health tendencies, mannerisms and so on. This is quite different from 
  • learned memory. What we "pick up" along our Path. For example, we pick up subtle ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, from our environment, parents, and society.
  • the karma of our race
  • the karma and present times of our society
  • our own karmic journey. Our lifetimes, particularly where we tend to repeat difficult relationships and behaviours

It was at this stage of samadhi, that my own memory took an unexpected turn: I started to "remember" my own, and others', past lives. So memory when it develops may not always be according to our own concepts. But, it will be according to our Life Path.

There can be a tendency to make the mistake of thinking, believing, that these vrittis, and memory, are all in our mind. That that is where they manifest. But, this is not correct. 

Vrittis actually go deep into our complete framework of being,  from our smallest particle upwards 

We are born with them embedded deep within, beyond our control. Memories from further back in time than what we can comprehend, sometimes. 

This is how karma can be handed down through generations, through society, through our own lifetimes. We accrue even more in a lifetime. Strangely, I did believe early in my yoga journey, that I could halt future karma, believing strongly that everything had to do with thoughts, and blocking them, as I had been taught that this was what blocking the patterns of consciousness, is. 

But, older and wiser, I now know that we are a complete entity, and that every single aspect of us, whether it is mental, emotional, physical, subtle, spiritual, everything is intertwined. And that vritti is involved with every single aspect.  

And in the deeper levels, such as the realms of chakras and tattwas (elements) these are not actually to do with memory: they just exist and are to be "found" within.

What changed my beliefs about stopping karma, in the concept of memory, was becoming a healer and dealing with past lives and lives between lives. I realised that we had karma all wrong, that we had such finite ideas about it. And, some years ago, I experienced the infinity realm of karma. I have consequently "let go" of any weird concepts to do with memory in connection with karma.

Next, we will look at how smriti, memory manifests as one of the four merits.

13 September 2019

the four merits

                           Image result for sufi quotes on faith

sutras 18 and 19: these are concerning the technicalities of the samadhis

An important point to know is that these exalted states first occur in meditation. It takes a while for them to become established as part of the daily life.

the differing samadhi stages occur when there is inner silence; when the inner fluctuations create a pause and in that space and in an heightened energy, we experience these samadhi stages 

sutra 20: concerning the (four merits)

Patanjali is talking about the four merits which are needed to attain the second samadhi, known as asumprajnata samadhi. The four merits come about as a result of the spiritual experiences, but, if truth be told, they are also part of our human condition. They just manifest somewhat differently, far more intensely, as a result of traversing the samadhi path. They are tools for: 

  • the spiritual journey
  • and success in life

They are:

Sradhha:  From the sanskrit shrat, which means truth; and dha which is to hold. That which holds the truth. Sradhha is often translated as "faith"; however, as we progress, a strong knowing emerges, which is not an intellectual knowing. This knowing is intuition, and this intuition can and does produce "faith". We have faith because we hold the truth within. Faith in what we are experiencing; faith that we are doing the correct things for these experiences to happen. And the results themselves are revealing truth, truth of the two samadhis which we are experiencing.

We dip in and out, from one to the other, as we go along. From samprajnata to asumprajnata then samprajnata again. back and forth. For, we are not yet completely established in the first samadhi. These things do take a little time. 

It is the same with anything in life: we dip in and out of differing states of experience. This is part of being Human. When we are on the Right Path; when we are doing what is right for us, we will have an inner knowing that we are on the right path; we will have faith in what we are doing.

Virya: this can mean

  • energy
  • strong will

The energy gained from the spiritual practices and experiences can and do make one have an inner strength. It is an important time for the aspirant when this inner strength manifests, for one may need to make some choices about how to use this mighty spiritual energy which is growing within oneself, and decide on some ethics to adhere to to prevent misuse of the will, and determination, which are steadily increasing. 

I have seen so many misuse these two faculties on the spiritual path, and the faith in turn becomes distorted. It need not be so.

our intent is incredibly important

In many ways. it is more important than whether or not we succeed at whatever we are doing, whether on the spiritual, or everyday, level.

On an everyday level, when we are fulfilling the duty, and the lessons laid down for oneself in a lifetime, we will find that inner strength and a happier energy will accompany all that we do. the problems will always be present in life, however, our intent  will be the deciding factor for success.

                                  Image result for sufi quotes on faith

more next time........

7 September 2019

The everyday mind

                            Image result for sufi quote about wisdom

still continuing with Patanjali

So, we have recently been looking at discernment and the four types of cognition. Whilst Patanjali is guiding us into permanent deeper states of being, at the start, he really is not. He is telling us what happens with each step of the spiritual journey. But we are not there yet. Because we are just beginning.

He is also getting us to sort ourselves out. With advice about:
  • the fluctuations of mind
  • the different types of knowledge
  • constant practice
  • discernment

This advice gives us tools. Tools for
  • living
  • achieving our goals
  • the spiritual journey

And for these, we initially have a very important tool: our mind. I found, in the beginning with learning Patanjali's Sutras, that we, in our spiritual innocence, spent a lot of time analysing things. Like what type of knowledge we had employed, or labeling everything a specific type of vritti, when in fact, we might have just had a pure intuitive thought, rather than a repetitive thought.

I understand that we just didn't know. This was many years ago, before Patanjali's teachings became mainstream. And through all of this querying, our brains did try to work things out for us. Because our brain loves a question and will work hard to answer it.

Using our minds, initially, for the four cognitions, is a great tool. A tool for life. 

how the four cognitions become a reality

sutra 17: definition of samprajnata samadhi. Samprajnata samadhi constitutes association respectively with reasoning, reflection, bliss and sense of individuality

These are the four cognitions. 

And, it is one hundred percent true that the four cognitions become a very strong reality when one starts to dip in and out of the first samadhi, the first stage of enlightenment. Spontaneously. We become very 'knowing' in a practical way. The increase of these cognitions is the gift of the first stage of enlightenment. And the cognitions, they are a different perception for us with this first samadhi. Different from how we usually experience these cognitions. I really am not sure how to explain this, as everything along the samadhi path, is experienced and not everything can be explained in a manner that we all can understand. We are moving into new realms, here. 

And, this samadhi can happen remarkably quickly if a person is doing strong spiritual practices on a daily basis. We start to experience it in meditation.

But what if we are not experiencing the first samadhi? What do we do then? The cognitions are part of our make-up. We can employ them, anyway. Indeed, I feel strongly that it is helpful for us to do so, for, even though we are on a spiritual quest, journey, we still are living in the material world.

we still have to live life in the material world

One of my biggest life lessons, was that no matter how far one traverses along the spiritual path, we still have to live our life. We still have to fulfill our dharma, which is what is set out for us to experience in our present incarnation.

All scriptures give advice which we can use to our advantage in living our life. And these cognitions are indeed an invaluable tool for life. 

31 July 2019

vairagya and cognition

                    Related image
                          ( a destination to journey towards)

continuing on with Patanjali

Vairagya is usually interpreted as being 'detached' about things: thoughts, feelings, events. And sadly, I have also witnessed many cases when it was practiced as a coldness, an uncaring. I found, during my spiritual odyssey, that I became more and more caring about people, all creatures, all of nature, and the environment.

Maybe we had it all wrong? Maybe the 'detachment' was supposed to be from getting involved in the internal and external chitter chatter? I would define the external chitter chatter as things that aren't helpful to our life, such as events and people that cause us angst, and other such similar things. Remember, this comes near the front of Patanjali's Sutras, so at this stage, we are not yet enlightened, we are just starting out on our spiritual journey.

As we progress, though, we do move into more and more sublime states, and a deeper, truer form of vairagya does manifest. We simply stop in increments, bit by bit, we don't get involved in things (external chitter chatter). And this is how we become discerning, which is another meaning for vairagya. 

And it's also a more logical way to start off on our journey. I know that usually people get into the codes and observances that Patanjali lays out a bit further on in his first chapter, as being what we should do. Because they are the first rungs on the meditation ladder. But, in these sutras, he is telling us how to get to the sublime states, and like all journeys, there must be a beginning.

And, in this way, by learning discernment, we are unknowingly moving into allowing the spiritual energy to flow within us. 

Because the four types of cognition (reason; reflection; bliss; sense of Self) follow on from vairagya and abyasa (constant practice), I feel that if we start with these, we are really giving ourselves a great gift in having a better life. 

our chakras come into play, too

As we progress, our sense of conscience should increase. It is part of this journey.  And, our internal chakras become stimulated. There is great wisdom contained within the chakras and the sense of right and wrong becomes a strong Knowing as we journey through them.

On our journey, we are also coming closer and closer to our Soul. The Soul vibrates in love. That deep heart based love, that eternal love which is deeper and stronger than our emotions.

These are profound clues about vairagya. A sense of right and wrong, and love. Love is an inherent part of our True Nature; it grows as we progress. And, it is intimately connected with right and wrong. 

The love for oneself is important too. Doing constant practice on the four types of cognition will help our sense of self worth be strong. How do we do this? As mentioned in the previous post, when the opposite of these cognition are happening, there is something within oneself, or happening from others, which is not positive, and these are signposts to letting us know that something is not right.

a personal note

I so wish that the four cognitions and a more reasonable approach to vairagya, had been emphasised, when I first started with Patanjali. It would have made my life, and others' lives, so much better. To my concern, decades later, I watched The New Wave of spiritual aspirants jumping straight into their concepts of codes of conduct and observances, as The Way, without any real understanding and with The Dogma of the time.

To be honest, this personal note is the real reason that I am writing all of this, in the hope that it will make even just one person have an easier journey.

27 July 2019

Patanjali and our goals

                    Image result for maori proverb on constant practice                           
    (Maori proverb. I have chosen two today, because they are so heart based, and along the Way, along the Path, everything becomes heart based))
sutra 13: abhyasa means constant practice
sutra 14: it becomes firmly grounded when continued for a long time, with reverence, and without interruption

Why this emphasis?  In all things of life, it is doing things over and over that produces results. We can all remember times in our life when this was so. And including the more difficult times. It's the same old story, doing things the same way always gets the same results.

This is one of the underlying truths of life (not just yoga). In Life, I do feel that it can work in many ways. For example, I can recall hearthbreaking times in my life when I kept trying, with deep faith in my heart, to get horrible situations to work out for the good of all. And they didn't. My placating behaviour didn't change, and the others in the situation, their behaviour didn't change. Surely I would have learnt? 

As life went on, I did learn, the hard way, that if something isn't working out, then it is the wrong situation. And, it is helpful to know this. Life has a destiny for us, and although not all of it is going to be easy, part of our journey is to recognise our own 'patterns' of behaviour. Especially in regards to difficult areas of our life. 

So, that's the down side of constant practice, and is certainly not what Patanjali is talking about here. But, it is a human frailty that when something isn't good for us, we keep repeating the same old, same old, stuff. But when it's good for us? Why does it suddenly get hard to do? Part of the human quirks, for sure.

When I met my first yoga teacher, I had one of the biggest shining examples of how constant practice gives such wonderful results. He was seventy-eight, did the same yoga flexibility movements, postures, breathing, kriyas, cleansing techniques, meditations, and chants. Every day. He was so amazing, and he 100% inspired me to just keep doing what is good for oneself. His results spoke for themselves.

And it's just as true for when we are doing anything in Life, when we have goals, for example. 

  • find out what you need to do
  • if it has beneficial results, just keep doing it
  • if the results aren't good? Some rethinking is needed

sutra 17 is about four types of cognition

In it's basic form , many believe it to be about the stilling of the mind. However, Patanjali is writing about deep spirituality, and this sutra is in conjunction with the description of the first state of samadhi. And just so you know, this state is not hard to achieve. It is comes about through constant practice, and in particular is first achieved in meditation. 

The four types of cognition are:

  • reason
  • reflection
  • bliss
  • sense of Self

A good way to measure what we are doing in Life, is to be aware of how these four aspects are revealing themselves. When we are in a 'bad' situation; when we are doing the 'wrong' things for ourself or our goals; when we are pursuing the incorrect Path, these four aspects will be greatly minimalised. Who amongst us has not experienced the opposites of them at difficult times in our Life? 

And the, when we are doing the 'right' things, following a more beneficial Path, we are able to:

  • think more clearly (reason)
  • we are able to reflect more clearly on things, and in particular, how the difficult times happened
  • we are happier
  • we have more Self respect

When we are always dealing with problems, there is very little sense of oneself, as we are always in reaction mode. When we are in a more positive situation, we are able to let our Light shine easily.

                                Image result for maori proverb on constant practice

27 June 2019

winter yoga

                          Image result for sufi quote on winter warmth

Yoga in winter

We can adapt both our private practice, which is called sadhana in yoga, or classes that we teach, with the different seasons.

For the teacher, it can be quite difficult keeping halls warm enough for a yoga practice, in the colder months. So sometimes, extra care and adaption is the answer for keeping students warm in the class. 

Have a system

Developing the habit of starting all classes on a reflective note, is always helpful. Why? Well, aside from anything esoteric, yoga should reduce stress. When we are anxious, or edgy, maybe our mind is racing, before we start, then we move into postures, straight away we can counteract the highly beneficial benefits of the asanas. Because they can be difficult, even quite hard, when we are stressed we are sort of working against the release of positive hormones from the asanas. 

pause, and come to stillness

So, pause, and have something reflective to start the class. Anything from deep breathing to affirmations. Whatever. Just be consistent. For morning classes in winter, I like to start standing with eyes closed, hands in prayer, visualising the red sun. This is incredibly calming, and something about the red sun is so uplifting. 

loosen the body

I do think that warming up the body is a good way to start poses. Moving warms our muscles, and makes it easier to do the poses. Usually I do dynamic movements to warm up, rather than holding the poses:

  • shoulder joint rotations of some sort
  • hip looseners 
  • twists
  • side to side
  • roll-downs to loosen the spine
  • bending backwards

If these are all done standing, it's then easier to move into the warming standing poses such as
  • sun salutes
  • triangles
  • warriors
  • balances
  • wide legged backwards and forwards bends

Think 'wide and strong' with standing poses to warm the body.

If your class can handle vinyasa, this is excellent for winter. If not, and if no sun salutes were done, then all fours postures such as 
  • cat versions
  • mountain (down dog) 

quite naturally lead to  backbends lying on our abdomen, such as
  • cobra. There are so many versions, and if you do some dynamically, it will keep people warm, plus backbends are naturally warming in themselves
  • locust, bow, camel, as people are able

Cats, tigers, cobras, camel, bridge and fish pose are quite strong for promoting a healthy set of lungs and so I like to emphasise all of these come the colder weather, as immunity boosters.

abdominal work is also warming. Having a warm belly and a cool forehead are hallmarks of being relaxed, so at this stage we are leading into winding down our poses.

in winter, I always make all of the above the main section of the poses. As seated floor work is cooling, I don't do too much of it. Instead, I add another backbend to start to finish:
  • bridge pose
  • reclining butterfly. This is so good to use after bridge; it gives a sort of double-whammy for our reproductive system
  • reclining spinal twist, held as a relaxation pose
(this sequence is really lovely to finish with)

seated poses: I recommend that you only do a couple of these, if any, in winter. 

winter pranayama:

There are so many yoga breathing practices. I have several that I use in winter, but the main one to emphasise is bhastrika done pumping the abdomen, as this is warming. It also creates negative ions around the nostrils which serves as a barrier against colds, and if we do get a virus, it will be a lesser version.

Follow with an introverted pranayama which naturally leads to meditation. I have several that I use, but the alternate nostril breathing is always excellent, and is a natural companion breath to the bhastrika version which I mentioned. For morning through to mid-day, start with the right nostril. Staring with the left nostril is good later in the day and evening. 

relaxation or meditation

If you are using visualization with these, a hint is that the moon is cooling. And we are doing warmer yoga, in winter.

Another hint: heart meditations create inner warmth

24 May 2019

an important faculty to use

                          Related image
Always remember the main thing to do: constant practice

We are still continuing with Patanjali's sutras, his narrative on the journey to enlightenment, what happens on the way, and everything else around it.

He talks about vairagya, which is to be used in conjunction with constant practice, abhyasa, although he is quite clear that constant practice is the more important. This is near the start of the sutras, so it's as though we are just starting out on our journey.

what does vairagya mean?

He advises us to use a faculty of mind, and the brain: vairagya. This is a word which does not exactly translate into English. It is often said to mean 'detachment', which suggest a separation from. Another translation is discernment. There are so many meanings for vairagya. It can also mean an indifference to the worldly. Not desiring worldly objects, aspects, and everything around this. And all of these meanings are where the misunderstandings arise.

There is an exalted state of vairagya, where one is not desiring, not wanting, indifferent to owning, having, wanting, material aspects and belongings. This is something which happens along the spiritual Path. The wanting just gets less and less. And yet here is Patanjali, at the beginning of our journey, telling us to not 'want'. How can we possibly do that at the beginning, when we first set out?

how can we utilise vairagya?

We can't, of course. because we are still identifying with the inner chitter chatter. because that's what we are doing when we first set out. And because Patanjali is talking about vairagya, which I'll call discernment here, it helps to remember that this is what Patanjali is actually talking about: discernment concerning the inner life in the form of vrittis, inner thoughts, inner feelings, inner reactions.

                           Image result for patanjali sutras vairagya

How can we do that? Patanjali does go on to dissect knowledge, patterns of thought and all other bits and pieces concerning all of this. Personally, I found all of these to be quite overwhelming, and noticed that myself, and many others, got caught up in all of this. Analysing, identifying all sorts of things. And overthinking about it all. Being stuck, mentally. Which is not what the spiritual journey, nor One's Own Life, is supposed to be about.

Now, wiser and older and much further along the path than when I first started to learn (it was only book knowledge then, I might add) about all of these things, I would say to approach all of this mind stuff differently:

  • don't overthink things. We all do this, but it's something to move away from. Simply because we are happier when we let go of this tendency. Notice things, yes. We need to observe Things in Life, how things are going, where we can see that things might be headed. This is where discernment comes in
  • don't get side tracked. We can waste so much time and energy doing this. If you are sure that you are on the correct Path, stay on it. If it keeps not working out, then use discernment here, move on, do something else 

vairagya in it's essence

In the Higher Aspects of vairagya, one does what ever is needed to be done, without any thought of personal reward, without any thought of trying to control an outcome. It is a High Energy and Consciousness State of Being to aspire to. It is certainly attainable. Another spiritual system would call it being in a Neutral state. 

non attachment to the outcome

Patanjali suggests non attachment to the outcome of something. This is what many large Ashrams have as their foundation. The aspirants there work without attachment to the outcome of their work (in theory). Well, we are all human and very few people actually manage this. 

But, there is a very human reason for doing this: letting go of the attachment to the outcome. The outcome of something is often different to what we start off with believing that it will be. We can block the real outcome by putting our own perceptions, rules and regulations, onto what we believe that an outcome must be.

rather, do this

  • keep doing what you need to do for something. Be consistent
  • let go of anything that is not needed for what you are doing, for the outcome. Be discerning

9 May 2019

Patanjali's recommendations for a good life

                            Image result for rumi on consistency

I thought that I would go over some of these recommendations, on this blog. The hints are hidden within the sutras, some more obvious than others. Today we shall look at constant practice, as Patanjali mentions this fairly early in his sutras.

Constant practice = abhyasa

Whatever we do in life, in order to succeed at something, we need to do it constantly. Over, and over, And over, again. This is what brings us the fruits of our labours. I so wish that people in all areas of life, understood this.

And it is one of the most important underlying messages of Patanjali's Sutras. He says that we need to become 'established in the endeavour', by constant practice. And because he mentions it so early on in his treatise, we can assume that this is because it is important. 

So, in spirituality, as in everyday life, what ever we are doing in our journey to arrive at our destination, we need to do it constantly.  This is not some great revelation, of course. It is also common sense. But, and this is just me, it needs to suit you. 

whatever your constant practice is, it needs to suit you and what you are doing

There is no merit to be gained in practicing something that does not feel right for you, or perhaps doesn't make you feel good. As an example: I chanted two mantras, eleven times each, most mornings for twenty years. And another long mantra for ten of those years. These three didn't gel with me, but still I persisted. Because of constant practice and all that. And they were recommended by the ashram which I was associated with. A friend, however, blossomed with these same chants, as did many others.

And then about ten years ago, I learnt some Maori chants. They resonated with every part of my being. So I did these instead, and am now learning Maori language, in order to be able to say them correctly. These chants, to do with The Gods and divinity, as are the yoga chants, have given me amazing results, and very quickly.

the correct practice gives good, swift, results

This led me to remember that anything that we are constantly practicing should give immediate beneficial results. Furthermore, continually practicing what gives these good results, builds more and more on it's own foundations. The benefits and outcomes, keep increasing.

This is not rocket science. I wonder how I could have allowed myself to forget this, as it was one of my first lessons in spirituality.

When I was quite young, and had just started yoga, I met a guru called Dr Swami Gitananda, who was also a psychiatrist. He was adamant that yoga should make a person feel good. And, if that was not happening, then you were doing the wrong sort of yoga for you. This can be like a creed for success in whatever you are aiming to do in life. If it makes you feel good; if it takes you towards your goal; then it is right for you, and for what you are doing.

how to tell if your constant practice is for you

I have taken hundreds of people through regression, and deeply spiritual clairvoyant readings. One thing that showed up, over and over again, was that when we are doing what ever is in accordance with our destiny, then we have less obstacles in our Path. Conversely, when something is not the correct way for us to go, is not in our Life Path, then our way will be full of obstacles. It will be hard.

We can take this as a sign. And, how I would relate it to Patanjali's sutras, is by comparing it to the chitter chatter of the mind, and how yoga is about blocking these mind patterns. When these patterns are stilled, we experience peace, union, and Higher states of Being. So, when we are doing things, over and over, to achieve, and maintain our dreams, goals, whatever, and instead of things being good, they are fraught with difficulties, it is like being stuck in the mind mire. When things start working out, though, it is similar in a way, to the mental fluctuations calming down, and creating less problems for us.

why does Patanjali talk about abhyasa?

And now, to get back to the sutras: in what specific context is abhyasa/constant practice, referring to? It is about blocking the vrittis, the mind stuff chitter-chatter.  We can never stop having thoughts. They are part of the process of life. 

But, when the thoughts slow down, our brain waves are then more harmonious, and we are less affected by the problems of life. Then we have a self-healing and loving vibration predominate.

So, to sum things up: whatever we choose to do, in yoga, and in life, should improve our quality of Being, by blocking the constant pull of the vrittis, which in turn will gives us more inner freedom. The vrittis will constantly arise if whatever we are doing, is not correct for us. 

Whatever we are aiming for in life, we need to have something/s that we do, over and over, constantly, to get to the fulfillment of that aim. Sometimes we have to trial several methods to find out which one works best for us:

  • our situation
  • our personality
  • our time available
  • our values
  • our aim

What we chose, should be:
  • easy to maintain
  • fit effortlessly into our life 

For, if anything is difficult, we will not be able to maintain it.

constant practice is something we DO, over and over