New York was blanketed in a huge snow storm this month. I love these times when the city is forced to come to a standstill. Usually there is so much activity, that we can easily forget what stillness feels like.
T. S. Eliot penned these words, which seemed fitting:
At the still point of the turning world.
Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards;
at the still point,
there the dance is,
Where past and future are gathered.
Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline.
Except for the point, the still point,
As we start the new year, full of promise and potential, and starting new rituals, one of the best things we can do is practice meditation regularly. Quieting down the mind and bringing it towards stillness is the ultimate aim of practicing yoga. Though we work with the body, strengthening and stretching it, in asana (postures) practice, yoga is so much more than that.
In the classic text, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali -- the "yoga bible" so to speak -- right at the beginning, Sutras (Verses) 2 and 3 in the opening chapter state:
Yogas Chittas Vritti Nirodhah
Tadah Drashtu Svarupe Avasthanam
Loose translation: the goal of yoga ultimately is to quiet down the movements of the mind and bring it towards stillness. When the mind is still, only then can the Self -- our True Nature -- be realized.
Practically speaking, it does not matter how strong or flexible you are if you can remember that stillness of mind is the ultimate goal in yoga asana.
Everything in our day to day experiences conspire to have us believe that we are past and future, movement from and towards, ascent and decline. Taking time to practice yoga and meditation help to remind us that these things are the least of who we really are.
For me, the one daily ritual that I have maintained over a number of years now (by now so many that I can't remember) is 20 - 40 minutes of meditation practice each day. I live in midtown Manhattan -- one of the busiest places on the planet -- and it is a true wonder to me at times that I can experience stillness and relative silence, despite all that is going on around me. My practice is my oasis, my mini-vacation (or "stay-cation") which helps to keep me sane and able to hold onto some semblance of equanimity. It is a treasure to me.
Will you take a moment in your day to practice being still? If so, know that everything that follows will be of great benefit to you and others.
May your mind come to stillness,
May you know the still point,
May your True Nature be revealed, ...
... for the benefit of all beings everywhere.
With metta and aloha,
Paul Keoni Chun
January 31, 2016