Yoga to Still the Mind
Yoga to Facilitate Mindfulness, Peace & Awareness
In this article I want to explore further the framework which can be most suitable for the pure Witnessing Consciousness to emerge (a.k.a. Enlightenment). The Witnessing Consciousness, or pure awareness without center or sense of separation, is the Reality that all serious spiritual seekers thirst for eventually.
In this non-dual state, all appears as "I", or all is just seen as Oneness. I explained this state in the article, The Miracle of Self-Awareness, I AM ALL, and also discussed it further in the article, Understanding Non-Duality, Hinduism, Buddhism & Enlightenment.
The core of the practice that leads one back to pure Witnessing Consciousness is meditation and moment to moment self awareness, but in this article I want to explore the role that Yoga plays in helping facilitate this evolution.
By Yoga here, I am referring to Asana (Posture), Bandha (Body Locks) and Pranayama (Breathing Exercises). Of course if you take Sage Patanjali’s definition of Yoga (Raja Yoga or Asthanga Yoga), then you include in it meditation as well, but here I am going to discuss the value of the "physical yoga" and it’s role in enlightenment.
Yoga of course has a wide range of wonderful benefits. It’s popularity and longevity is a testament to that. You can read about these benefits in the article Top 10 Benefits of Yoga Practice, but the greatest benefit of yoga practice, for those passionate about enlightenment, is the tranquility of body and mind that it helps bring about.
Non-Dual Master Jean Klein Speaks on Yoga & Mind
I will let the great non-dual, enlightened, master Jean Klein explain the value of Yoga in his own words. Jean was a Westerner who had a thirst for the Truth. He made his way to India to study under the non-dual masters there (Advaita Vedanta teachings in line with Ramana Maharishi & Nisargadatta Maharaj). He sub-sequentially merged and lived as the Witnessing Consciousness and transmitted the profound teachings of non-duality in many of the excellent books he has authored.
Below is one small excerpt from his amazing book Ease of Being and I think it brings forth clearly the benefits and role of Yoga for those of us passionate about living an enlightened life.
Did you practice yoga to come to deeper levels of surrender and alertness?
The word practice generally means habit. We must use it only in the sense of becoming more and more aware of body and mind. We must see that the body is a field of fear, anxiety, defense and aggression. However, the emphasis must not be on the body but on presence, on listening. What is important is to become acquainted with the field of tensions and see that the constantly interfering I-image is not separate from this field but belongs to it. When this is clear, tension finds no accomplice, the perception is freed, and energy integrates in its totality. The traditional approach is through listening to the body, not mastering it. Dominating the body is violence. But one can sweep the floor or wash the dishes and be in listening. It makes no difference.
Exploring the body brought me to deeper layers of relaxation and this relaxation brought about the cessation of repetitive patterns in the body and mind. In welcoming the body I became more and more aware of the feeling of letting go, so in this way the yoga participated in the fore-feeling of reality. But it only led me to where I no longer emphasized the object, the body, but the ultimate subject. Yoga brings you to a kind of alertness, a tranquility, and a tranquil body reflects tranquil mind. But of course you can come to the peaceful body-mind without yoga!
I think the above quote is a great summary for what Yoga can do for the spiritual aspirant. It is an excellent vehicle for bringing peace to the body and mind, and raising your level of awareness and energy, which are all key aspects in your journey back to the Source.
How to Approach Your Yoga Practice
I would like to make one additional point with regard to how you should approach your Yoga practice, if indeed you are sincerely interested in enlightenment. To make my point here, I will take the help of another great master of non-duality, this time from the Zen Buddhist tradition, Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki.
In the article Shunryu Suzuki Speaks on Enlightenment & Zazen Practice, Master Suzuki explained how to approach Zazen (Zen Meditation Practice). He explained that one should simply do one’s daily meditation, while forgetting about all gaining ideas and all dualistic ideas. This same approach should be applied to your Yoga practice. Just do your Yoga practice with full awareness and don’t place emphasis on goals or results. Just remain a silent witness during your practice and allow everything to progress naturally. If you are sincere, eventually the stillness will emerge and the blossoming of Truth will occur.
Some Free Yoga Resources
If you are interested in integrating yoga into you spiritual practice, to help you still the mind, you are welcome to join the Free Online Yoga Courses here on Mastery of Meditation, or check out the Free Online Yoga Videos or other Free Yoga Tools & Books that are available.
Don’t forget, stay alert!