Wed, 7/14 Swami Sitaramananda
Superconscious mind, mind, meditation, daily life, meditation practice, people, asana, learn, classical yoga, Patanjali Yoga, yamas and niyamas, non-violence, ahimsa, brahmacharya, yogi, swami, truth, spiritual energy, desire, prana.
This talk is from a serie of talks about “how to renew your life and how to recharge yourself”.
we have talked about
1/ prana, how to have more prana,
2/ positive thinking: understand what is thought, what is the relationship between thoughts and prana.
3/ how to be flexible, adaptable, how to work your ego out to pay attention to the subconscious.
4/ detachment: how not to be pulled down through our attachment. How to be able to adapt and change by being detached.
5/ meditation: the different ways how you can introduce meditation in your daily life.
What is meditation? How to free us from past tendencies?
There are different definitions of meditation. One of the definitions, the classical way, is the definition according to Patanjali. According to Patanjali, meditation is at the seventh rung. That means seventh step of the eight steps ladder of yoga, a Raja Yoga system. That means you have to prepare yourself, in order for you to be able to be still. Yamas and niyamas are the two first rungs in Taja Yoga, guiding you to have proper behavior that will not bring about any kind of reaction, that will bring about peace.
Anything that happens is due to our karma from the past. And if we are going to react to our karma, then it strengthens the wrong thought tendency. And it would put us deeper into the state of unhappiness, restlessness, worry. That’s why the yoga scheme is how to free us from our past tendencies. And Patanjali gives us a few points, a few guidelines on how to do this, we call yamas and niyamas.
Yamas is what not to do, the restrictions. If you want your mind to be peaceful, it’s better that you adopt this way of behavior. If you want to be free from karma and from disturbances and from creating new vrittis in the mind, new thoughts in the mind, it’s better that you follow these guidelines.
The first guideline is ahimsa. Ahimsa means nonviolence or in other words, no frustration, anger. You can be proactive and manage your mind, working around your desire and your expectation so that you don’t get angry because anger comes from expectation and unfulfillment. If you are flexible enough to work around your expectation, then you will be able to be a peaceful person and you will be avoiding anger and violence. Really, it’s all about you and the mind. It’s not about whatever happens and whatever people’s behavior, it’s about you. What do you expect, how you interpret that situation? You can change, you can switch to ahimsa, but you have to learn how to manage your desire, your ego, your expectation and you have to enhance your eyes a lot. You can also learn how to be compassionate, to understand somebody from where they are, to understand the situation that can be quite complex sometimes. And you have to come up with the most sattvic kind of response. And you have to work against your ego because your ego has its tendencies and you want to reproduce its tendencies which make you feel strong.
But according to yoga, we are not strong when we reproduce your tendency, the moment you say I am like this, because I have always been like this, you reinforce your tendency and your desire, and your expectation and you create more instances of frustration, of reaction. Ahimsa implies that you have to be non-egoistic, with no expectation, no attachment to the result, no attachment to your own thoughts, to your own habits. Remain quite open and be quite flexible, accepting, empty. Empty doesn’t mean empty, but open, to be quite open. Every moment is unique. To be humble, that’s part also of the practice of ahimsa. Don’t think that you know and try to remove the ego. In daily life, you have to see the situation where your ego will come up. I know, I know better than you. I like you to do this way, that way. You have to be training yourself to be very careful.
I learn a few ways in daily life to not hurt somebody’s ego. I say: “Do you mind doing this?” Instead of saying ‘do this’. Of course you can say ‘do this’ and maybe you are in a position of authority. You can add the word ‘please’. And then you explain.
Learn to communicate better: I think people are sometimes very short. It means they don’t communicate very well. Why don’t you communicate very well? Because you think that people should know? Or you thought:” they should think of things the way I see it.” But people don’t. They have a completely different mindset. What do you expect from them can be like talking Chinese, they have no understanding of that. And then you assume that they have to understand that, and you just say a few words because that’s your assumption and you expect them to understand and you get upset if they don’t understand or you make a face.
In daily life it is good to practice being humble, to be communicative, to know that you don’t know the truth about anybody or anything and to talk to the person as you talk to God. That is a difficult practice. Teachings say behave with people, your husband, your wife, your friend, your boss, like you behave towards God. How do you practice this thing? That means you have to know that you don’t know, you cannot assume that you know, you cannot carry yourself around and think that is the truth and the reality is in me. God knows, but you do not know.
So please, don’t take yourself too seriously and be humble and be learning how to communicate.
I myself, I don’t type very quickly, I type very slowly. I just have two fingers, I don’t know how to type. I cannot see very well also. I’m almost blind because, I do not wear my glasses and I use my little cell phone as my computer, so it took me a long time to type anything to communicate with people and I received tons of email and I am being attacked by emails of people, so it took me a long time to answer emails, you know. Sometimes I have to type in Vietnamese and different keyboard and accent and all these things. But I make a point. I’m not talking about me here, I’m talking about the concrete thing how you can do Meditation in daily life. It is a form of Raja Yoga meditation because you have to be very focused, to be very careful when you answer an email and answer a request. You need to be communicating, that means you have to talk about the circumstances before that email and explain to people the after and then you have to use the right kind of feeling that you can add to the communication. And you have to understand the person, where they come from and who are you at this time present. And then you try to make that communication unique at that time.
The art of tuning to someone’s wavelength:
I have spent many, many years of my life writing emails. That time, there was no email, I used to type letters with an electric typewriter and carbon paper. I was the secretary in the ashram and I had to write the correspondence for Swamiji. I had to spend a lot of time and I didn’t write very well in English at that time. I tried to imagine in my mind these people that wrote and then tried to imagine their mindset and I wrote the letters corresponding to what I imagined these persons to be. Then I took a quote from the book called “Elixir Divine”, which is the book of Swami Sivananda quotes. Depending on what I felt about the person I spent time to choose the proper quote to add at the end of the letter for the person.
It’s like serving a full meal, a three course meal, when you answer an email. There is the beginning, the appetizer, then the main course, and then the dessert at the end. It took me a lot of time. Imagine I didn’t speak English, I didn’t type very well. If you ask me, what did I learn in my spiritual path? How did I learn? I would say this – because I was a secretary for many years: “one letter at a time.” That’s how I learned. I imagined the person, I meditated about the person that I wrote letter to. Also, to note that I did not even sign the letters. I wrote for the swami, and someone else was signing the letters, not me. So, I had to imagine that I wrote a letter for Swamiji, or the other senior Swami, then, I tuned my mind to higher vibration, higher wavelengths of thought, and address the person. This was my way of meditation in action, called Karma Yoga of writing letters. It was not just only business correspondence, it was a spiritual communication, it was my meditation. This is the truth. That’s how I grow in awareness. I must have written so many letters.
Everyone is unique, no one functions the same way:
I am telling you now the story of how I learnt when answering correspondence for Swami Vishnudevanandaji. There was a karma yogi about 40 years old who one day came back from that correspondence session at Swamiji ‘s house and he was quite upset. He said, ‘I’m not going to work for this man’. And then he left the ashram. I was a new karma yogi and I said, Okay, I will take the job. Well, what has happened there? I went, and I realized what happened. Swamiji was extremely fast and he functioned at a different level than you are. Our mistake is we always think that people have to function on the same level that we are, but they are not the same. I learned that he didn’t function the way I think, and how I function, he mostly functions in a super conscious level, not the conscious level, not the subconscious level that we normally do. Normally, we have no clue of what the super conscious level is. When I gave him the letters and told him “Swamiji, this person said this and so on… He took the letter, brought it to his forehead and touched his forehead with it then discard it. That was it, that was his way to send the blessings and the reply through the psychic atmosphere to the person. That was about 37 years ago or something, people wrote using aerogram. I thought:” Oh my God, how do I write a reply?” he didn’t say anything, and I tried to tune to higher, higher wavelengths to pick his thoughts. I realized that he communicated with a person by touching the letter, he already got the vibration of the person putting it to his forehead, which is his mind. That’s what happened. And that was it. But, understand that the person would not receive a letter like this, they will not be able to, they will not be able to receive that Swamiji already prayed for them and have sent them letter in thoughts. So, I had to be the instrument to do this.
That was how I replied to the person: “Swamiji said to continue your practice “. That was what Swamiji would say, he would say: “continue your practice!”, because only during the practice you can solve all your problems, not by chatting. “Swamiji encouraged you to practice and pray for your health and welfare, and so on and so on. “
The Karma Yogi who was upset, expected Swamiji to sit there, tune into him – which is tuned down to him- and dictate and wait for him to write and finish. And then when he finished one sentence, dictate another sentence. It means Swamiji had to serve him, instead of him serving Swamiji and the whole world’s needs.
In reality, there was no time to wait. Swamiji’s mind was fast because he had to serve the whole world with prayers and thoughts.
So, I became the instrument of this service, I was a very new karma yogi, and had to learn how to tune and change wavelengths. Imagine, tune, change quickly and get it. And then you have to tune down to a level of somebody, express the way how he/she would understand and feel, including the reply to their emotions which are often times in crisis. I had to learn to match my answer to them.
And that’s how I receive my training in daily life. And sometimes I’m wrong. I’ll tell you another story.
You expect that you have a guru, a teacher, that he will sit there and babysit you, but it was not like that at all. Swamiji lived his life and his mission and you want to serve Him because you want to learn something, fine and good. So, you came to serve Him and then you will have to learn on the battlefield. He’s not the babysitter, he is the one that is living his life and you are the one that serve in order to learn.
One day, he was trying to teach me accountancy. All my life, I’ve never really liked accountancy, mathematics and money. I was quite a political person before. I understand that money is a thing that creates a lot of problems in this world. So, I never really liked money. And I’m kind of artistic kind of minds, I don’t like mathematics and never like accounting and counting money. Accountancy was not my thing. When I came to the ashram, I got the karma yoga accountancy job. At that time, there was no software and you had to do everything by hand. You had to add everything in the big register book. Swamiji said “it’s not our money so you have to be very careful, this is public money”. So, he will not allow like 50 cents difference.
I had to spend time adding the number you know, and when you do it two times, you had to check it and it never came right for me. The number just kept dancing and changing. I spent a large number of hours trying to make the book fit. I copied from this column to that column and then tried again and it did not match. Thus, I spent hours and nights trying to balance the books and match the numbers.
Swamiji must have known that I had some difficulties. He called me and another staff to his house to give us an accountancy lesson. The accountancy lesson went like this. I thought: “wow, Swamiji is going to give me an accountancy lesson! The master is going to teach me! “I was a little bit impressed already. Now, imagine the scene:
Swamiji said: “If I’m going to give $10 to this person, who will give it to his daughter to go and buy $5 of apples, then how much is left?”
That was it, the accountancy lesson. $10 to buy $5 of apples, that’s how much is left?
I was maybe 29, maybe 30 years old or something. I became frozen. In my mind at that time, $10 minus $5, could not be a normal answer. How much is left? Something strange is here. It must be a kaon. It means you have to invent something, you have to read through the lines, you have to try to understand what the great yoga master is trying to communicate. And then as I didn’t find the answer, Swamiji said: “10 minus five equals 5! Go!” That’s it. That was my accountancy lesson. I was thinking about my lesson for a long time. What was it? Why did he have to call me to his place and say ten minus five equal five. Doesn’t make any sense. Because you know, I was 30 years old, I know how to count!
Eventually I figured out the answer. The answer is, he tried to teach me to be simple, not to be complicated, in my mind. Ten minus five equals five. That’s the way how it works.
In spiritual life, in meditation life, you have to tune and try to understand the higher wavelengths. But at the same time, you have to be quite practical. You have to be very down to earth. My mind was too complicated. I need to be more logical and simpler.
So that is also another teaching lesson of meditation in daily life, “don’t make things complicated. Be in the present and simplify things. “
Ahimsa. You have to bear your anger, frustrations because they come from your own unfulfilled expectations. It’s your own expectation that is unfulfilled because it doesn’t match with reality. So, you have to bear it and learn to let go of your expectations and desires. That’s how you meditate on your mind and desires.
The truth is in between both:
Satya means truth. That is part of meditation in daily life. Because that’s a condition for you to be able to meditate and have peace of mind and not create more vibration and more distortion, more vrittis in your mind. So you have to tell the truth. But what is the truth? Because your mind changes all the time. If two people quarrel, Swamiji would say the truth is in between both! The truth is in between both. It means person A does know the truth, person B doesn’t know the truth. None of them are correct. The truth is beyond both. And we always think that we are the one that knows, the other person doesn’t know. So that is the problem. When two people quarrel in the ashram, the director also gets punished. I mean, the way how Swamiji punishes people, is to make them write a mantra. Because when you write a mantra, the mind vibration will change. And if you do something wrong, you have to write more mantras. And the director also had to write a mantra. The director also had the right mantra because two people quarrel. So how does it work? why does the director have to be involved if two people quarrel and why the director also will have to be punished? how does it work?
Because the director is the one who makes sure that the vibration of the ashram or the center is high. So if two people quarrel that means the vibration is low. So, he also has to lift his vibration up, so he can lift other people’s vibration up. It seems interesting isn’t?
So, the truth is in between both. That means we have to know that we don’t know. People always think that they hold the truth, but they don’t know. So much possibility of interpretation of any word or any situation.
Don’t forget that this is a world of Maya. Maya means things are changing. This is the world of energy and things are changing. Compared to the truth, the Truth doesn’t change, but everything else changes. You don’t know the truth because you’re not a realized person yet, you’re not an enlightened person yet, you still function out of your emotions, you still function out of your desires, you don’t have the discipline yet. You don’t have purity yet. How can you know the truth? You don’t know the truth.
So how do we work with that? We have to be sincere. In daily life, you are expected to be sincere, honest and sincere. That’s all. You’re honest and sincere and that’s good enough. You don’t have to be perfect, but you are sincere. And then tomorrow, you know better than you can change because you know better now, the way you see things can be different tomorrow and is not the same as you do today. So, it’s not like you are changing except you are adjusting and you’re sincere. Your tomorrow and today will be different. Because you don’t hold the truth. You’re trying. And then you are learning on the way. That’s the guidelines of truthfulness. Just try to be sincere and honest. And don’t think that you hold the truth. Nobody holds the truth. The Truth is within us, but we have impurity therefore, the truth cannot be revealed yet.
Asteya: Asteya means non-stealing. It means, don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you. As much as you can, try to be honest, and don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you.
Brahmacharya, the road to Brahman:
Brahmacharya is trying to be aware of your instinct, your sensual propensity, sexual propensity, so that you can learn how to transform these energies into high energy. So that you not only function out of your low mind, your instinctive mind, but you function as a self-control human being, a person that is capable to transcend these tendencies, instinctive tendencies.
In daily life you have to start with the awareness of your energies. And you have to be able to observe your energy. What we say to our yoga teachers that they need to keep pure thoughts when they teach yoga class. It’s very easy to fall, because of the tendency of the mind. Brahmacharya is chastity or pure purity in thinking and to transform this impurity to purity it takes a long, long time.
Because the main thing is to transform your vibratory wavelength. What is vibratory wavelength? It is the level of energy. When your level of energy is low, then you have more sexual thoughts. When your level of energy is high, then you don’t have this kind of desire, because the energy has been transformed into higher wavelengths of energy.
If you practice Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, pure devotion, concentration, meditation, and detachment, then most likely your vibration will be pure, pure and higher, then most likely you have transformed this energy into something that is higher and lifting you up and lifting other people up.
So that is the guidelines in daily life to keep yourself, as much as possible, chaste in mind. Try not to watch TV, movies …Sometimes it’s very difficult now, you’re watching some news, and It has some ads in between, then flashing images of people not really dressed properly. I’s all rampant around us the lustful energy, desire energy, sexual energy, intoxication. That is very, very much around us. It’s very difficult to keep the thought pure, but in daily life, you need to protect your mind and be more conservative in the way how you think or who you communicate with.
It’s called brahmacharya. Brahmacharya means the road to Brahman. It’s not simple. If you are able to control your sexual energy, you are on the road to Brahman, on the road to the Truth. That’s what “Brahmacharya” means. It’s not just about celibacy, but it’s controlling and sublimating or transformation of that energy that creates a lot of desire and distractions in the mind and creates a lot of problems. You have to transform this energy and lift them up into spiritual thoughts.
Pay attention to subtle impressions in the mind:
I’m in LA, I just went for a 15-minute drive yesterday and I saw this big billboard. It was about this new movie called something ‘the new war’ or something. And then you look at people’s faces on that board and it stuck to your mind. Why do I care about this ‘New war’ and all these people with huge weapons? But these impressions get stuck to your mind even though you are not interested.
So, you need to be aware of the influence on your thoughts when you are in the street, how sexual thoughts and violent thoughts influence your mind. And you need to protect your mind. This billboard and image of these people got stuck in my mind and it will take me some time to clean the thoughts. It creates some damage or some junk in my mind that will take the space and the energy of something higher.
When you fly, because that’s the only time that people like me is exposed to different kinds of magazines, you end up reading the magazines in the airplane. And what is it about? It is all about lipsticks, perfumes and sports cars. So your mind will be polluted by this. Your mind will be wondering about which color of lipstick because it’s full page color. Imagine, the ashram wants to publicize a meditation course and we cannot pay even one eighth of a page like this. It’s too expensive. One page about lipstick will be five to $10,000 a page, or more. And the big magazine like this, full of lipstick and full of perfume, how much it cost. See, then you can see that so much energy, what I’m saying is so much money, so much life, so much prana, so much energy into attracting people out of sexuality or out of violence. In this context, your mind will be affected.
Meditation in daily life means you have to pay attention as much as possible. Keep your mind protected.
Non-accumulation, non-envy, no desire.
It’s very easy to be envious, isn’t it? And that’s a problem. To drive here we have to rent a car. Because our car did not work. The car we rented was a very nice car, then your mind can change the mindset to thinking, “Oh, I wish I had a car like this, why do I have to use all these cars that are not nice and don’t work? “
Somebody I met yesterday bought a new car for $65,000 cash! your mind hearing that can switch, your mind can be envious and say: “I desire to have a car like this!”
So in daily life, you have to meditate. And then you have to prevent your mind from going into this place of envy, jealousy, desire. If not, it will be detrimental for your mind because it will create different distractions in your mind. And at the same time, you try to learn meditation, and you try to have peace of mind and you don’t get it. Why? Because there is too much stuff in the mind.
Niyamas: Purification, contentment, austerity:
That’s why the Yogis proposed to you that you need to practice purification, you need to practice contentment, you need to practice austerity, you need to practice self- study, and you need to practice self-surrendering or acceptance of God’s will. That will help you to be calm. Purification means that the light is there within you, but the thought in your mind is impure. So, you need to apply positive thinking techniques and all Yoga practices in order to purify your thoughts, purify your body, purify your prana, everything is about purification.
And then you practice contentment. It means you wake up in the morning, and you already say: “I’m so grateful to be alive!” You are thankful, your life is about being thankful, it’s not about being envious, or it’s not about pointing fingers and destroying somebody or making sure that they will not get what you desire. Because you desire something, and they get what you desire. So therefore, you need to destroy them for them not to get what you desire!
You need to make sure that you are content with what you have. So, your mind doesn’t have this desire vibe. And then you have to study every day. You have to study because you need to put in your mind positive thoughts. That doesn’t come from magazines, or other people gossip on the internet. It comes from scriptures and teachers.
And then you have to self-surrender. That is the basic guideline of yoga. Self-surrender doesn’t mean that you become stupid or become a servant or not thinking. Self- surrender just means that you have to know that you are not the boss. You are not the boss of this world. The world is not going to follow your beck and call. Your desire is not going to be fulfilled. Things happen the way they happen. And then you have to learn to accept God’s will — surrender. So don’t wait until the big lesson for you to surrender. Like a big virus coming and attacking everybody for us to learn to accept and to surrender. In daily life we need to learn to be self-surrendering, adapt, adjust, accommodate.
These are the yamas and niyamas according to Patanjali yoga.
Asana and pranayama:
Then you have to practice Asana in daily life. Asana is known to be yoga, but it’s not Yoga, it is only one step, the 3rd step. You have to do this, when you practice Asana, know that the effect is that you are moving your prana. Because most of the time your prana gets stuck. If you are not moving it, it gets stuck and it becomes negative thoughts. So every day, you have to move your prana in a correct manner. Then the flow of energy will be flowing, and you’ll be fine. And then you’ll be able to also stay still. Asana means “steady pose” staying still. You stay still so that you can contemplate. Movement, stillness, movement, stillness, relaxation, action. You would have to balance all this.
And then comes pranayama. It means learning how to balance your prana. There are two hemispheres of the brain, right and left brain. You learn how to be an integrated person, where you think logically, but you also feel at the same time. And don’t allow yourself to be in that situation of conflict, where you feel something, and your logical mind goes on the other side, and then you are pulled in between, but you need to bring the extreme closer and closer, closer and integrated, so that you come out with a balanced kind of response. So that is called pranayama. Pranayama is the strongest way to work on your emotions. So, practice pranayama every day, make it a daily habit to practice pranayama so that you can be balanced, because you don’t know your situation. You don’t know because you live with your mind all your life, so you don’t know you’re super emotional, and you are not logical, or you don’t know that you are super logical, and you are not feeling at all. You think this is the way the world is, but it’s not the way the world is. Your life can be different if you know how to balance your energies. Then you can function the most efficiently if you are not too much this way or not too much that way. It takes a long time for you to learn that what you think, and feel is not the way how the world thinks and feel. You superimpose the way how you think and feel onto the world and attract to yourself people that think like you or feel like you. Then you feel yourself stronger because more people feel like you, but that’s not necessarily the truth.
Withdrawing of the senses:
So you need to practice pranayama in daily life, you need to practice withdrawing the senses (pratyahara). Pratyahara is when you turn inward. We are all the time turning outwards, outwards, that’s a problem, that creates a problem to meditation. Turning outward means all the time involved in action in the world of the senses, thinking that the world of the senses is the true world. In fact, no, what you see with your senses is not the real world. It’s very limited; this is not the world that will give you peace of mind.
Pratyahara means withdrawing, withdrawing the senses. Have less sensual input, so that you can live an inner life. What is living inner life? That just means that you are more in connection with your deeper level of feeling, your deeper level of truth that is revealed in your heart. And if you are too busy externally, you get involved in too much action or you are too much involved in the senses, you will not be able to connect. So that is called pratyahara, withdrawing of the senses.
Concentration and meditation:
Concentration is when you are able to be strong, you will be able to hold one thought that is good and be able to say no to other kinds of promise because your mind is very weak, so your mind will run with different promises. You are doing something, and somebody says, “oh this” and then you get distracted. You are not able to be focused and to be able to say no to the distractions. Then you are too much in distraction and you cannot really connect with your true Self. You cannot be really peaceful with your mind, and the reality surrounding you.
Swami Sivananda says meditation is when you are flowing with the flow of consciousness of God, like a stream of oil, that is being pulled from one vessel to another, that is continuous flowing. That’s what it is. That’s what you want. We want to be able to flow in a stream of consciousness. That is very enlightening, that is very peaceful, that is very happy. You will not then suffer out of this start and stop of a choppy world. Instead of “peace of mind” we get “pieces of mind”. We gathered our pieces of mind and get established in the peace of mind that brought about a flowing feeling. That’s called meditation.
Get established in that flowing feeling of consciousness, and awareness, that is all the time there, not when things happen the way you want only. Normally, when things happen the way that you don’t expect, then everything stops. So the more that you are able to train yourself, the more you’ll be able to be flowing in all kinds of situations. You have to use your left brain, your thinking faculty, and you have to use your right brain, your feeling faculty, then you have to use your superconscious mind, your intuitive brain. You have to know that this superconscious mind is accessible to you, that you can induce it, that you can use it and then you have to train yourself to do this.
Eventually, you are in the state we call “Samadhi” which means complete flow, complete oneness. This is the goal.
The goal is to achieve complete oneness where nobody is at fault. You are not separated. You are not in duality. You don’t have inner conflict. All your past conflict accumulated in your mind has been resolved. Your mind is pure and calm, and you’ll be able to reflect who you are.
There are a lot of practices. I can elaborate every step at length, but you have to learn that you can apply this thing in daily life.
Achieving mental balance:
Steadiness in asana, we take it literally. But Asana is when you are able to keep your mind still, calm, not reactive in a difficult situation. Like in a posture. You’re about to fall in a balancing posture. You’re about to fall because the energy pulls you this way. And then you want this way and you are shaking. But if you are able to be balanced in two difficult poses, and you’ll be there steady, that’s called Asana. As example, this means that when you have difficult feelings about that person or that situation or that speech of somebody, then you’ll will still be able to hold your poise or your peace in between these pulls and pushes of different conflicting kinds of thoughts. And that is called holding an asana. You have to be able to hold this mental Asana, be strong, be firm and be flexible. If you want to hold a posture, and you are so rigid, what it means is that you really hold too tight and as a result, you fight. Let’s say you hold a shoulder stand, a headstand, and you hold it so strong, then you would tense and then you would fall down. So that’s why asana practice trains you not to be too rigid. But, in the contrary, if you can’t hold at all, you just collapse, it also doesn’t work. So you would have to be both: be strong and be flexible. In daily life in the same manner, you need to be strong and flexible.
Other examples of lessons in daily life.
Yesterday, I learned two lessons. Every day is learning. I’m sharing with you. Yesterday, there was a family here at the LA Center with some kids, 5 years old, 9 years old and 15 years old. The five years old and nine years old never sat still for a moment. We were building the deck and the kid picked up this drill, this electrical drill, and push, push the button. It was very dangerous. I would be upset because it’s a very dangerous tool to play with. I looked at the parents. They were trained, because these kids have trained them. They were so calm and said:” Okay, kid, don’t play with that. You are going to lose some points! Please put it down! Something like this.” Then I realized that compared to them, the parents were much calmer and more controlled than me, because I reacted very strongly.
And then they put the drill down and they go and pick up another one. Another dangerous tool! And then they jumped here, jumped there. Oh my God! I observed my mind. I said:” I cannot live like this!”, “I don’t know how they live like this, the parents. “ . Then I realize how much love they have for the kids to raise the kids daily like this all day long. And I don’t know how many years it took them not to lose control, not to lose the mind. And always try to teach to the level that what I talked about earlier, the communication level, the tuning into the person level and the love that is there. It’s a lot of training. They were experts and I bowed to them, the teachers of their kids. Then I realized that I was not that good. That’s humbling. Daily life, you are learning.
Trust and stay detached:
There was a dog at the Yoga Center, whose owner is a temporary staff. That dog is very old, tumbling, deaf but seeing a little bit and almost dying. It walked around, going in and out of the house while we were in a construction field building the deck. I was constantly afraid that the dog would fall into the tools and hurt himself. I realized that my mind was reacting to the dog, and I realized that I had a long way to go. I say, “he’s going to be hurt. Oh my God, look at him!” I was not at peace. Because you can feel for the dog and you can feel for the dangerous situation that can happen. In the middle of the night, I woke up and thought “I need to go down and check if the dog is ok. Walking around the courtyard, anything can happen. He is blind, he can fall here, fall there. “
Then I realized:” okay, okay, detach, detach, sleep. And then we will see.” The dog was at the Center for a few nights and every morning I woke up and say, “okay, the dog is okay. There’s nothing that happened last night. “
The parents and the owner of the dog eventually have to live with their situation. No one can live life worrying all the time. So, meditation is that also. You have to have faith, you have to understand the karma, you have to do your duty, and you have to let go. And you have to accept it. You have to surrender to God’s will. You cannot worry all the time.
So, I learned a lesson about children and a lesson about dog at close proximity. I know children, animals, I can give lectures. We have children’s yoga, but to live close to them and be able to have self-control, and calmness and meditation and trust and faith — this is a lesson to learn.
Meditation in daily life is a combination of karma yoga attitude, bhakti yoga attitude, Raja Yoga principles and practices. Plus, the understanding that the whole thing is a game, it’s not true, it’s not real. And it tests you how attached you are and how serious you take yourself. In fact, the whole life set up is there for you to learn meditation in daily life.
Swami Sitaramananda is a senior acharya of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers and is director of the Sivananda Ashram Vedanta Yoga Farm, California and the Sivananda Yoga Resort and Training Center, Vietnam. She is acharya of China, Taiwan, and Japan as well. Swamiji is the organizer and teacher of the Sivananda Yoga Health Educator Training (SYHET) program, an 800-hour program on yoga therapy, accredited by the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT).
Swami Sitaramananda is the author of “Essentials of Yoga Practice and Philosophy” (translated in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Russian), “Positive Thinking Manual”, “Karma Yoga Manual”, “Meditation Manual”, “Swamiji Said, a collection of teachings by Swami Vishnu” in His Own Words. She is responsible for the Vietnamese translation of “Completed Illustrated Book of Yoga” (CIBY) and “Meditation & Mantras” by Swami Vishnu. Many of her video & audio lectures on Yoga life, philosophy, and psychology as well as articles and webinars can be found on this website.
Swami Sita is an ardent supporter of the integration of the Vedic sciences such as Vastu, Jyotish, Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta. She is an international teacher of the Sivananda Yoga Teachers’ Training Courses and Advanced Yoga teachers’ Training courses, as well as Meditation and Vedanta & Silence Courses both in Sivananda Ashrams in Vietnam and in Grass Valley, CA.