Most of the time we live in the past of the future. In the past we find the memories and experiences we consider to have made us who we are. Even recent events can surface to draw our attention backwards. Whilst making dinner we happen on something we did earlier that day. This memory triggers a scene that plays over in our minds as we chop carrots. Some days we get furious as we chop carrots thinking about the things we should have said to the person who riled us, let us down, offended or somehow made things more challenging.
As we play this story over again, we chop carrots more earnestly. Our grip tightens. We think on things we should have said, the things we might have done to show them. Take that. Yeah…I wish I’d have said that…
Briefly, momentarily we return to the present and pick up a new carrot…
The mind wanders again, this time into the future. To all the things we might say to that person tomorrow. To set things straight. We may imagine talking to them, showing them how offended, riled up, or otherwise let down they’ve left us feeling.
We can’t avoid these incursions of the mind back to the future or off into the past. For all of us too, there are people who fire us up in some way. Regular practice of Yoga and meditation will limit the impact of these incursions. Will limit the hold they have on us and release the past and future, leaving us free to return more frequently to cutting carrots. After all the carrots have done nothing wrong to us. They deserve a present and engaged chopper, a present engaged parent to serve them up, and a peaceful home in which to share them.
And the source of these things is nowhere but the present moment. The moment we’re in right now. Every time.
The source of a more empowered future and less inhibiting past lies with our our practice of Yoga and Meditation. Through practice we equip ourselves to take up residence here in the present moment and to remain here despite the challenges offered up by an imagined future. As we continue to create joy and stillness within the present moment we encounter more joy and stillness in our dealings with the future. When it finally comes along.
Every thought you think is creating your reality. Thought is followed by word, and is followed by action. We think, we speak we do. All together, all of us are thinking, speaking and doing all of the time. This week we were reminded of the creative power of thought, through Louise Hay who says that:
“Every thought we think is creating our future”
– Louise Hay
What if we changed the thoughts we have. What if we believed the world was filled with abundance (it is actually) and that we deserved to have this abundance flow towards us(we do actually). The challenge is not to pick the thought, the challenge, as we soon discover is to reduce the noise of the thought that already exists in the background.
From our parents and others: “it’s a struggle to make ends meet”, we are “hard up” while others are “filthy rich”. From the media we find “Chaos in the streets”, “Crime on the increase” and all number of murderous realities. All these beliefs about what the world is expected to deliver for us help to create the future we experience. Our challenge as we practice Yoga is to reduce the volume of these background beliefs and increase the impact of the stillness within us. To create for ourselves and others a more uplifting and inspiring beliefs and experiences. This is our journey with Yoga and it is the very power of thought to create our reality which makes Yoga and Meditation so crucial to ourselves and the society around us.
We spend a little time on the theme for the term and this week we heard more of the story of Louise Hay, who has developed an inspiring and surprisingly effective way of changing our experiences in the world. A child of a dysfunctional family and subject to a great degree of suffering early on in her life, Louise realised what students and teachers of yoga have realised for centuries and formalised through the discipline of Yoga. This is that we can change any and all aspects of our experience simply by changing the thoughts.
Though not easy, this is what Yoga is all about in the end.
Louise believes that changing our thoughts about the world, we can change our experience of it. Not only the highs and low of relationships, work and family, but also the experience of our own body through illness or disease. If we change the beliefs we take on about ourselves and the world around us we can change what comes into our world. For the better.
In Yoga we are constantly practicing the skill of letting go. We let go and relax at the start of class, allowing the tensions of the day, the concerns we hold on to be suspended even if for an hour and a half. Many yogic practices, including many forms of meditation involve letting go. Allowing muscles, joints and tendons to be stretched beyond what we usually allow them. Allowing the mind to invite new thoughts in to replace the ones we’ve had enough of.
If we watch closely we see that the body and the mind are always holding on. We hold subtle tensions in the muscles, we mill over thoughts about the day we’ve just had, the day ahead or the words of someone we’ve allowed to cause us hurt. Through practice we come to realise this holding on is the cause of much of our suffering. When holding on to the hurtful words of another, we churn inside with anger and resentment we are allowing that person to affect and have control over our natural state of peace and calm. When we hold on to the pains we’ve experienced in the past, even as children, we are giving our control away, sometimes to a 5 year old. We allowing a memory or experience of ourselves to dominate who we are today. We let these memories hold us back from who we might become.
Letting go means letting go completely. We let go of past hurt, past injustice, past pain. In letting go we make space for new experiences, new relationships, new ways of being.
This week the challenge is to consider what you might be holding on to. What keeps repeating in your thoughts that if let it go, would free up space for a new way of being. A thought, a memory, a relationship that threatens our inner peace. What can be let go, that will set us free to experience something entirely new?
This term we use the 7 points of power described by Louise Hay to illustrate some very fundamental aspects of Yoga. Each week we consider one of the points as it relates to the aim of Yoga. Many of Louise’s points of power relate to the thoughts we have, the thoughts we try avoid and the thoughts we would certainly choose if we knew how much they could transform our lives, our relationships, our success, prosperity and level of happiness.
Each week we’ll build on our experience of thought and gain greater control over the relentless chatter of the mind. Through the practice of Antar Mouna (inner silence meditation) we reveal the stillness and quiet that is our natural state of mind.
Yoga and meditation offer a path towards inner silence and stillness. But why are these so important and more importantly why are they so elusive?
In the yogic tradition inner silence is the state of mind where the thoughts rest or are absent altogether. One of the fundamental aspirations for those who practice yoga, it gives greater access to the present moment.
Inner silence comes when our thoughts slow down, or quieter completely, leaving behind a pure awareness of the present moment, a pleasant state of awareness and clarity that allows for the space around us to be pure, natural and inspiring. We find this when taking in a beautiful scene in nature, a perfect moment of romantic love or when engrossed in a piece of work that combines the right amount of challenge and inspiration.
Typically we wait for these moments. We hope there will be one around the corner, to relieve our sense of boredom or to take us away from a nagging sense that we should be doing or feeling something more in life.
Sometimes we go to great lengths to achieve these moments. We strive for achievement, giving all of energy to our work, friends or family at great cost to our physical or mental health. We go on holidays to inspiring places or make improvements to our homes and living spaces with the promise that the sense of peace and calm we so strive for will follow.
We soon discover however that these moments, even if we can achieve them, soon pass and are once more replaced by longing or the nagging sense of anxiety.
Through the practice of yoga we uncover through experience, the cause for these moments, not by our external surroundings, our achievements or the feedback we gain from others. We discover the source to be rooted in the stilling of the mind’s constant activity. We become engrossed and absorbed in the present moment to the exclusion of past experiences or future concerns. Through practice we gain greater access to these moments and greater control over the stillness that rests in each of us at all times. This becomes the reason for our practice.