This post is part of a series of reflections on the Yoga Sutras, an ancient yogic text that is the basis of much of our modern day yoga. For a general introduction to the Yoga Sutras see: The Yoga Sutras: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Life.
Yoga Sutra 1:2
“Yoga chitta vritti niroda”
Yoga is the cessation of turbulence of the mind.
This may be one of the most well known of the yoga sutras, as it is often used as a definition of yoga.
Our mind is always thinking- that is what it does. And we need our mind to think to keep us alive in this world! But it is often our thinking about things that causes us suffering, or keeps us stuck in a limited circle of experience.
Through the practice of yoga we learn to step away from ourselves and notice what is going on. We are prompted to notice what is happening in our bodies in the different poses, or how our breath feels and how our breathing moves our bodies.
We can also practice the skill of watching what is going on in our minds. Maybe we can catch ourselves thinking limiting or negative thoughts about ourselves. And rather than beating ourselves up further about this ,we acknowledge these thoughts, let them float by, and go back to the practice of noticing what is happening right now in the present moment.
This yoga sutra, 1:2 is a huge one, and can really take a lifetime of practice. But I believe that the first step to easing our turbulent minds is to begin to develop the “compassionate witness” part of our consciousness, and start to notice what is happening in the mind, rather than being dragged along with it on its crazy rollercoaster ride.