Today I planned on writing another meditation-based lesson/insight. But, sometimes you have to go with your intuition, and recently the universe provided me an opportunity to observe myself and where I am growing from my meditation practice. As an instructor I want to share what is working (and not working)–hopefully this offers some idea of what you may expect. Additionally, it is important to savor the small victories. But, don’t accept anything I say–meditate, meditate, meditate and find Truth for yourself.
A “glitch” I have wrestled with is holding grudges. Who knows where it arose from? I come from a long line of spicy Panamanian women– perhaps we ate to many chili peppers! But, it doesn’t matter where it came from; what matters is that it a pattern or samskara, “those deep impressions. It is those deep impressions or seed habit patterns, which are at the root of ALL of our Karmas (actions)” (Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati).
Samskara– it sounds like a scar– a deep etching a groove left in the mind which, like a cd stuck on a track, leads to habituated behavior.
When we sit to meditate we are first taught to let the stream of thoughts come and go without obstruction. We are taught to let the mind behave naturally and develop the perspective of a detached witness to this stream. Why? What purpose does this serve?
Over time this art of gently allowing the mind to unfold and bloom helps the aspirant to “see” that the mind has a limitless capacity for creation. A meditator learns to have more an impersonal relationship with “their” thoughts; they are just thoughts and not who we are at the core.
Once there is some space between the thinker and the thoughts; the fun starts to really happen… A consistent meditator notices that there are trends and habits of thinking which does not serve them. In my case, the habit is to become very defensive and angry when I perceived that I have been wronged. This tendency can lead me to hold a grudge.
Earlier this week, I was relaying to a dear friend some feelings I had about the Yoga community in my home town. I had a particularly unhappy experience which someone who has a very financially successful studio in-town. When the antagonist of my drama and I parted company, it left a very sour taste in my mouth. But, this time when I shared the story I finally felt more “neutral”. I am not going to say it was as if I was a newscaster. But, it was the first time my blood did not boil. Furthermore, I was aware of this new sense of “neutrality”.
I have begun to erase this groove.
The yoga sutras speak of four attitudes to cultivate: Maitri: Friendliness, pleasantness, loving-ness; Karuna: Compassion, mercy; Mudita: Gladness, goodwill; Upekshanam: Acceptance, equanimity, indifference, neutrality. The last of these is to be cultivated specifically towards “those we perceive as wicked or evil”.
In addition to the concept of neutrality– notice that the sutras say “those we perceive”, because the truth is, when our minds are deeply entrenched in thought we don’t really get the truth of what is going on. We ride off on each thought into the land of fantasy where we are the protagonist and the star of our drama.
As we move further into our path we work towards not creating new etchings by a committment to observing the thoughts. Then they don’t unconsciously affix to us– we are aware of their comings and goings. When an unsavory thought attempts take hold we label it as “not useful” and let it go. After all, we aren’t defined by them– they are just thoughts– and we understand that they are the product of our beautiful, boundless, ever creative mind.