“We participate in our natural spaciousness so seldom that we have come to believe we are whatever arises in the mind.” Stephen Levine
You have probably heard your yoga or meditation teacher say it before:
- YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS -
Central to yogic philosophy is the concept that we are not the thoughts and impressions that arise in our minds, but rather witnesses who watch the thoughts come and go. As external seers, we have the ability to transform our reality by remaining unattached to these thoughts, recognizing that they are merely changeable clouds within the limitless sky of our True selves.
Patanjali states in the Yoga Sutras that yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. The true objective of the yoga practice is not a bendy back, long hamstrings, or a solid handstand, but rather to awaken the practitioner to the spaciousness of his/her True self. This “True” self is a reality only recognized when the mind’s chatter is silenced. As long as we remain preoccupied with wavering thought patterns (“small mind”), there will be little peace, clarity, or ability to grasp our ultimate capacity (our “big mind”).
Analyzing, defining, and judging are acts of our small mind, or ego. When we act from the standpoint of our egos, we remain reactive, habitual, and limited in the scope of our thinking; our awareness is honed in on specific objects or situations. This mindset can be very useful at times; for example, solving a mathematical equation with a well-defined solution. If, however, the mathematical equation is of a new order and has been heretofore considered unsolvable, then relying on usual patterns of problem-solving would not likely lead to success and a wider viewpoint would need to be employed. Inventors, pioneers, and notable artists necessarily utilize this Big Mind perspective because innovation requires the capacity to think outside the box of small mind.
Unfortunately, I find myself frequently viewing the world from a small mind perspective. Whatever my mind is focused on is experienced as my entire, all-consuming reality. Sometimes it is pleasant, sometimes it is agonizing. Forgetting that I am more than these fluctuating thoughts, I become a victim of my own mind, at the whim of the next notion that arises and I forget the boundless wisdom that is available to me in every moment.
My goal this month is to be more attentive to tapping into this wisdom, this Big Mind perspective, rather than merely reacting to situations. This simply requires stepping back from my limited vantage point and asking “what should I do now?” It is not so important who or what I believe I am asking for guidance, be it God, my True Self, my intuition. What matters is that I let go of the need to immediately act (or react) and instead take a moment for an extra breath, to become receptive, to allow the mud to settle, and to patiently wait for the answers. The beauty of this practice is that the answers will come; things will get better! Whether it is because the situation itself changes or just because my perspective on it does, things will improve. And in the meantime, I am enjoying life more, appreciating life more, because I am allowing it to unfold without so much struggle.
Bija Mantras - Ben Leinbach & Jai Uttal
Offshore - Chicane
Vai Vai - Thunderball
No Saint - Wasis Diop
Early Daiquiris - Club des Belugas
Funky Guru - Prem Joshua
Troubled Girl - Karen Ramirez
Solar - Thunderball
Leo Leo - Indo Animata
Lying in the Hands of God - Dave Matthews Band
Gopala Lullaby - Ben Leinbach & Jai Uttal