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.
Sutra 1:3: Tada drastuh svampe avastham
“Then the self abides in its own true nature.”
“Abide” is a gentle verb- it means to accept or follow.
You have probably already followed your true self- a time when you were fully engaged in the moment, a time when you felt a sense of connection, focus, purpose, or found yourself in a crisis situation and yet moved calmly through it.
Abide in our own true nature could mean we are moving in the flow of things. Being in our true nature doesn’t really mean “finding ourselves.” We are not lost. Plus, we are constantly changing throughout our lives and even moment by moment.
What is required to abide in our true nature is to peel away the excess, the habits of thought that draw us away from our sense of self, such as looking outside ourselves for self-validation, or labeling ourselves with self-limiting labels.
Yoga can help us be in the moment, notice and connect with our true selves, and be clear about what is happening right here, right now.
Sutra 1:4 states: Vritti Sarupyam Itaratra
“At other times, the self seems to identify with the mind’s fluctuations.”
So it is recognized that we often identify with our stories, with the patterns of thoughts in our busy minds.
When we are feeling unsettled, it can be helpful to ask ourselves “What story am I telling myself here?” Then we can recognize what is going on in the mind, let it go, and use the mind to help us connect back up with the present moment. Of course this takes practice- maybe a lifetime’s worth. Using the practices of yoga, we can little by little spend more time experiencing the here and now, and more time in our true natures.