Yogah cittavritti nirodhah.
Yoga is the cessation of movements in the consciousness
Yogah cittavritti nirodhah is the second sutra of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This text is basically the bible of yoga and is known to be one of the most enlightening studies of the search for spiritual liberation compiled over 2, 000 years ago. The eight limbs of yoga aids in halting the fluctuations of the mind, leading eventually to a consciousness that is pure, where self loses its identity and becomes one with the great Self.
I understand this to be the point of yoga, and although I've been practice for almost 10 years, I can't say I've found liberation from my monkey mind....yet. Have I experienced moments of space where thoughts have ceased to come in or out of my brain? Yes, most definitely. Little tastes of freedom here and there is why I keep returning to my mat.
Before identity is lost completely - before the second sutra comes into fruition - there is a grace period where more lucid thoughts land into view. This stage is only unleashed when you give yourself time to sift through the muck of the mind to get to the potent stuff. It's difficult to experience when you're running around like a chicken with its head cut off, completely disconnected from yourself and your surroundings. Moments of stillness, time in meditation, and/or doing things that help you "clear your head" make for perfect opportunities to shed the surface thoughts; put those obsessive and habitual thoughts to bed! It is here where you fall deeper into the moment and into your consciousness. And it is here where you tap into your Spirits calling, your hearts desires, your imagination, epiphanies, and daydreams!
This state of being cannot be planned. If you try too hard to figure it out, nothing will surface. But it's important to provide yourself the time to receive direction and answers anyway. They should be tapped into frequently and should be taken very seriously. According to National Geographic, daydreaming makes you more creative. In a recent article (read here), they shared some of psychiatrist, Eugenio M. Rothe's, notes on the matter: "...the daydreaming mind may make an association between bits of information that the person never considered in that particular way, " he says.
" This accounts for creativity, insights of wisdom and oftentime the solutions to problems that the person had not considered."
Daydreams often give you hints or signs to where your life needs to go and can help guide you towards your next step. Yoga teacher, Ana Forrest, encourages her students to inquire about what they yearn to do in the world and to "return to the desires we've buried deep inside because we felt we didn't deserve them or couldn't have them. We have to look beyond surfaces and discern a true desire. Perhaps you think you want to be really rich, but what you really desire is to live free from fear of want. Maybe you think you want to screw all night, but what you really desire is a deep, ecstatic connection. "
Ana suggests making baby steps towards your calling by studying and learning it. She recommends that "If you want to get a horse, it's fun to think about where to start riding. If you dream of becoming a writer, it's fun to think about finding a writing buddy... if you long to become a Yoga teacher, it's fun to think about where to take teacher training. What is a step that brings you into the world?"
For me, what keeps arising in my daydreams is a growing garden centred in a vast field, with a kitty cat weaving in and out of my legs as I walk the land; I can so deeply feel this becoming a reality for me in the future. There is almost a heartache that comes along with the realization of your longings. It's heartache but also excitement: like the feeling you get when you're close to reuniting with a long lost love. It's exactly as Rumi said: What you seek is seeking you. Author Clarissa Pinkola Estes also talks about this in her book, Woman Who Runs With the Wolves. She says to "(stand) still long enough to let the spirit find you. It is said that all that you are seeking is also seeking you, that if you lie still, sit still, it will find you. It has been waiting for you a long time. Once it is here, don't move away. Rest. See what happens next".
Don't fear what comes out of the woodwork. Believe in the wanderings of your mind. Check in with what keeps coming up for you. Is it the same feeling, image, or daydream? Are you listening to the signs or making steps toward fulfilling your Spirits call? Are you getting the reoccurring hint? We can all afford to take more time to be still, to breathe, to check in and receive. Who knows, it might lead you to the enlightenment Patanjali describes.