Thursday, January 9, 2014

a new year...time for re(new)ing commitments?

Verse 4.30: All these performers who know the meaning of sacrifice become cleansed of sinful reactions, and, having tasted the nectar of the results of sacrifices, they advance toward the supreme eternal atmosphere.

The New Year often brings a sense of fresh beginnings. It's a time to introspect, make new resolutions or perhaps re-commit to old ones.

In order to make good on resolutions, promises and vows, it requires steadiness of mind. As we've discussed before, the mind can be a little crazy (to put it mildly)! It possesses the characteristic of chanchala which is the sanskrit word for flickering or moving rapidly. And that, my friends, is the problem many of us face when trying to stick to any promises we make.

Although we may have the best of intentions to stick to our commitments, it's difficult when we reside 24/7 with a tenant, the mind, who is constantly accepting and rejecting various thoughts and ideas. Notice how when first making a resolution or promise, you feel strong and focused? It's because at that moment, the mind may be accepting of it. However, as time wears on, the the sacrifices one may need to make to keep that commitment becomes more apparent.

Therein lies our problem. At that intersection when our commitment is standing in the way of something else that we desire, the mind can act as our worst enemy. If it controls us, our determination wanes and our resolve weakens to stick to our word. That's because the mind is always seeking out ways and ideas to please the senses, not the heart or soul. We are placed in a predicament because our senses seek pleasure which is often temporary and our commitments often require postponing that immediate pleasure.

Although it's an example that's been used before, we'll use it again just because it illustrates this point so beautifully. Resolving to work out more frequently is often a commitment that is renewed around this time of year. For the first few days, weeks or even months, this may seem pretty easy to maintain. However, as time wears on, it's the mind that often gets in the way. "But that cupcake is just so delicious, just a mini one can't hurt," it'll cajole. Then suddenly some unexpected projects fall onto our plate and the mind may say "Impossible to go to the gym, just see all the work you have to finish. And you can't work without eating, so eat what you want!" So tricky is the mind that it's often hard to realize what's happening! It provokes one to ask, "How can I control it or at the very least steady it?"

Integral to the practice of yoga is mantra meditation. By focusing on powerful sound vibration, it helps to calm the mind. Even better is if one incorporates mantra meditation as part of a regular practice. Whether it be two minutes a day or two hours, the effects are powerful. It is the most practical way to steady the mind and costs nothing except a small investment of time.

So go ahead and make new commitments and/or renew old ones! Now you know the secret for ensuring success!