Week 5: How to be a yogi
by Vasudha Rai
What is the difference between good and bad? What’s bad for you is good for someone else, and vice versa. I remember a talk by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on the Buddhist circle of life. He said that the man who thinks that he can get away by doing bad is a fool; but the one who thinks that doing good will generate positive karma is an even bigger fool. Confused? Allow me to explain.
It is said that our karmic tally happens every second with each thought. Considering that a human being thinks 50,000 thoughts a day, our karmas are based more on our thoughts than actions. So doing good doesn’t really count, especially when you don’t think good. In fact, sometimes doing good comes from a need to satisfy the ego.
Usually people think and do wrong because they suffer. In the yoga sutras Patanjali describes five kleshas or causes of suffering: ignorance, egoism, attachment, aversion, clinging to life. Ignorance is actually the root cause of suffering that gives birth to the other kleshas. According to the yogis, man is either trying to immerse himself in pleasure or running away from things that may cause him pain. A wise man accepts everything that comes into his life without ego, attachment, or aversion, and never clings to his comfort zone. But it’s not that simple, monitoring your thoughts constantly is a tough task. Surely there has to be a simpler way neutralise your karmas?
The answer is in meditation since it helps stop or reduce the fluctuations of the mind. It’s much more powerful than you think. My healer once told me that if karmas were like cotton, then meditation was like a lit matchstick. But feel free to meditate for other reasons, like great skin, a calmer nervous system, and inner peace.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to prep and practice meditation:
- You will never be able to just sit and meditate. Start with a brisk walk, or a couple of surya namaskars, skipping rope, or rotating your shoulders back and front–basically move a little.
- Then find a comfortable place to sit. Even a chair is fine as along as your spine is straight.
- Do a few rounds of deep breathing to centre yourself. Deepen and slow down your breath; exhale longer to de-stress.
- Once you have centered yourself, choose an object of focus. It could be your natural breath, a mantra in your mind or an affirmation (I am happy, works for everyone).
- It is very natural for the mind to run. Allow it. Just don’t turn a thought into a story. For instance, you think of lunch, then you remember your friend, then you remember an unpleasant conversation. You understand? Don’t hold on to any thought.
- When you find yourself thinking, don’t get angry with yourself. Calmly bring your mind back to the point of focus. Even if it happens a hundred times, it’s okay. Just come back to again, gently.
- Start small, like set the alarm for five minutes, and then build the time up.
- The best time to meditate is at dawn or dusk, and the best direction is facing the north-east. That said, do it when you can, as it is convenient. But do it for sure.
Vasudha Rai is doing her teacher’s training course at The Yoga Studio, New Delhi, and blogs at www.vbeauty.co.