“Those who know don’t say, and those who say don’t know.”-famous Taoist saying
Words Are Not Enough
I don’t really know what to say. I know I did it. Even though I only have records on about half that time, since I began this 12/6/2013 but didn’t start using Insight Meditation Timer until December 2015. But I do 30′ every day, rain or shine, often at night, gentle yoga after bicycling, at home in my skivvies. Sometimes longer, or at class, though none of those lately. It’s both a tremendous accomplishment, one of which I’m far more happy about than any of the biking, walking or writing I’ve done. And also something about which to be modest and not even brag at all.
Naturally, I have not attained enlightment. By now the practice is part of me, something I do every day without fail, even if it means a late night pre-yoga nap. I’m sort of afraid to stop, although that would be good to dimiish the ego. But I could also improve a lot of strength and flexibility with more effort, videos and classes. We’ll see. One day, pose and breath at a time. That is all any of us has. With gratitude to all my teachers, Jai bhagwan and Namaste.
I suppose what I would like to convey is what I was trying to get at in my previous post, Stillness. Yoga, when done with intention and attention, can bring it, even while moving. The science of yoga is far too complicated and detailed to go into in a blog post. I’m certainly no master. And asana, the poses, are just one part. There are many mental states and Sanskrit words to describe them. One is dhyana.
Dhyana is a Sanskrit word meaning “meditation.” It is derived from the root words, dhi, meaning “receptacle” or “the mind”; and yana, meaning “moving” or “going.” An alternate root word, dhyai, means “to think of.”
In Hindu traditions that are derived from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, dhyana is a refined meditative practice that requires deep mental concentration. This kind of meditation is taken up only after engaging in preparatory exercises. (Dude’s note: The original point of doing yoga poses, as I understand it, was to get the body relaxed in order to meditate.)
As the seventh limb of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga, dhyana builds upon the practices of asana (physical posture), pranayama (breath control), pratyahara (control of the senses, moving the focus inward) and dharana (concentration). When practiced together with dharana and the eighth limb of samadhi (absorption), the three together form samyama, resulting in a full detachment of the mind from worldly bindings and a deeper understanding of the object of meditation. At the final stage, or jhana, of dhyana, the yogi does not see it as a meditation practice anymore as they are so fully immersed in the meditative act that they can no longer separate the self from it.
The term, dhyana, appears in the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Hindu scripture that outlines the four branches of yoga: Karma yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga and Dhyana yoga. In the text, Dhyana yoga is described by Lord Krishna as being the yoga of meditation.Source: Yogapedia
The mental clarity, focus, relaxation and other states that come about from regular practice are real and can definitely be felt in the body. Rarely does my practice bring about overwhelming feelings of bliss, joy, or transcendence. But sometimes, it sure as shoot does. And man, when it does, look out! To quote the great Willie Dixon in the 1961 recording of “Going Down Slow” by Howling Wolf, “Great googly moogly!”
These states are not the end goals of yoga, but it doesn’t hurt to feel good. And even when the sensations of mind and body are not all wonderful, simply attuning myself to what is going on, observing, and trying to not identify with them, has been rewarding. Not in quantifiable ways.
Applying Yoga to Real Life
Many activities can bring about such focus. Sometimes while bicycling, I notice my reaction to drivers trying to kill me with their cars is slower to react. I’m calmer, more focused, and even more compassionate. I literally go with the flow of traffic, in my little bike lane (when there is one — hey Austin, Texas: it’s time to do better, NOW!) and am just aware of my body, my bike and surroundings. I’m also a lot more bendy than I would be if I didn’t do it.
Maybe it’s not for you, or maybe you are a yoga master, or maybe it doesn’t matter. But I think it is worth it. I hope to continue. Yesterday was Day 2,001. Today will hopefully be Day 2,002. But I’m not doing yoga right now, I’m writing. And focused on that. The music. The air conditioning. The dog breathing next to me as she sleeps. My posture. Many things at once.
And maybe nothing at all. I say this because I don’t know. But if there are things I don’t say, it’s because I do know. Edie Brickell lyrics come to mind again: “I know what I know, if you know what I mean.” May you experience the knowing that comes from your practice yourself. May all beings be happy.
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