“Now begins the understanding of yoga.
Yoga is the sublimation of the modifications in the mind.
Then you see reality as it truly is.”
- Patanjali yoga sutras, 1.1 – 1.3
In the tapestry of existence, we find ourselves intricately woven into two distinct yet interconnected realms of reality. The first is the tangible world that unfolds around us – the external, objective reality. This encompasses everything from the device you’re using to read these words to the encompassing environment: walls, landscapes, and all physical entities. It’s the reality that seems most immediate, most familiar.
Yet, there exists another dimension, equally real but often less noticed – our internal, subjective reality. This is the realm of your thoughts, the silent whispers in your mind saying, “I understand this,” or “This is unclear to me.” It’s the space where images flutter behind closed eyes, where emotions ebb and flow like tides, and where your body whispers its own language through sensations, both pronounced and subtle. Our subjective reality is a rich tapestry of thoughts, images, emotions, and body sensations.
Consider how a single emotion, like anger, can manifest across these elements: a thought arises (“This person is infuriating”), accompanied by a mental image of the offending behaviour, an emotional response, and a cascade of physical sensations. This multidimensional reaction is not unique to anger but is a pattern repeated with every stir of emotion, be it sadness, anxiety, nostalgia, or excitement.
At the heart of mindfulness lies the art of cultivating our ability to dwell simultaneously in both these realities. It's about aligning ourselves with the present and making conscious contact with the phenomena arising in both the inner and outer worlds. This alignment brings forth Right Thought, a Buddhist concept referring to thoughts that are pertinent to the present moment, leading to actions that are in harmony with our true selves. In this state, we experience a sense of spontaneous excellence, where action, be it physical or verbal, flows through us effortlessly, unlocking our fullest potential and highest expressions of our love, power, freedom, flow, and wisdom.
When we lose this precious contact with the present, our minds drift into the realms of the past or future, often bringing forth feelings of sadness, guilt, anxiety, or stress. Imagine your mental state as a radio frequency. When fully tuned into the present moment, it’s like being perfectly aligned with your favourite station, say 98.5 FM. But as soon as your focus shifts to past or future concerns, it’s akin to a distortion in this signal. A slight shift to 98.6 FM might bring a faint distortion, but a complete shift to 99 FM plunges you into a cacophony of noise devoid of the music of the present.
Mindfulness is the practice of returning to 98.5 FM, making it your natural state of being. It’s about cultivating a deep awareness of both the seen and the unseen, the tangible and the intangible aspects of our reality. This is where we tap into the highest potency of manifesting the life that truly wants to be lived through us.
Mindfulness is about making 98.5 FM your default setting.
In upcoming articles, we’ll delve deeper into the nature of the mind, exploring its tendencies to wander and how we can gently guide it back to the present, fostering a life of awareness, alignment, and authentic expression.
Until next time,