by Marije E. Paternotte
I am currently reading a wonderful translation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras by Mukunda Stiles*. Even though we cannot gain true wisdom from merely reading wise words, I find it inspirational to see put into print what I have come to experience through my yoga practice.
The ancient scriptures of the Yoga Sutras, very much like the Buddha did centuries earlier, give a form of practice that aims at ending the suffering we experience in our lives. Suffering can be anything from physical discomfort to having negative thoughts. As someone recently shared with me: “Pain is mandatory, suffering is optional”.
So how to reduce the suffering in our lives? According to both the Buddha and Patanjali, we need to learn to see the Truth. We need to study ourselves and see that we do not only create pain and suffering, but also contribute to it. When we learn how to look at ourselves and the world without preconceived ideas caused by subliminal impressions and previous experiences, we experience freedom. And when we are free, we can choose: how do I deal with this experience? Do I want to suffer, or not?
The practice of Yoga, in the broadest sense of the word, will help us to understand ourselves, and see ourselves – and subsequently others - for who we really are. Through persistent practice we will learn how to still the mind, and be able to connect with the Seer who resides beyond it. Asana (yoga postures), breathing exercises (Pranayama), and meditation, amongst others, are all tools to pave the way to our True Self.
As a first step on this way, I would suggest to pay close attention to your experience when you are on your yoga mat. How does your body feel? Do you notice your breath? What are you thinking? Who is practicing yoga right now? Remember: how you practice on your mat is how you do everything off your mat.
When: April 27 – May 3, September 21 – 17, 2014.
Where: ONEWORLD retreats, Kumara, Ubud, Bali
* Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, as interpreted by Mukunda Stiles, Weiserbooks 2002.