In part I, I discussed the importance of creating stillness in the mind and how challenging it is to succeed in doing so. Without stillness, the mind runs wild, out of control, like a monster that haunts every waking hour. The mind gets caught up in the dramas of life and gets consumed with fear, anger, sorrow and self-pity. There is no peace. The monster takes control and slowly destroys physical and mental health. The shadow of the monster blocks the light of love, happiness, well-being and peace. I promised that in part 2, I would share how to defeat the monster, return to the light and restore wellness. So, here we go.
There are two kinds of stillness. The first is focus (dharana). The second is emptiness (shunya). Both give a deep rest to the body and mind. Both defeat the monster and allow the light to return. Both illuminate the path of love.
Dharana is the focusing of one’s attention. Without the ability to focus, the mind wanders. Where does it go? It travels into the past and explores the realm of regret, hurt, shame, anger and resentment. It wanders into the future and explores fear and anxiety. Without focus, thought is driven by the ego into the darkness. With focus, thought is driven by the ego toward our external goals. Yes, either way, the chariot of the mind is driven by the ego. However, when the focus of the mind is directed toward inner peace, toward love or toward God, the ego does not know the way. It yields control to the Higher Self, some say to the Divine within or to a Higher Power. With God at the helm, we arrive in the highest light and achieve the highest goals. Here, the mind and body are at complete peace. Mantra meditation is the method used in Yoga to train a person’s ability to focus. Sit quietly, close the eyes, focus on the heart or the point between the eye brows and follow your breath in and out. As you do, repeat a mantra. If one has not been given to you, slowly repeat “om” as you inhale and “om” as you exhale. The mind may wander but with practice, you will remain focused for longer and longer periods of time.
Shunya is emptiness. It is the not-doing of the mind. The mind effortlessly evaporates as a person learns to become the “witness” of the mind and not the mind itself. We are not our thoughts. We are that which exists behind our thoughts, beyond our thoughts. We are the field of consciousness ever-witnessing creation. In this case, we are witnessing our self. As soon as this occurs, the mind loses its power over creation and simply becomes the experience of peace and unconditional love. The body is naturally rejuvenated when the mind is at peace. One method of experiencing shunya is through the practice of Yoga Nidra. This is a state of awareness achieved most commonly through guided deep relaxation combined with conscious awareness. It’s simple really. Just lay down, listen to a recording that guides you into this state. Several are available including one I made. See the link below.
In Part III, I’ll explore how Ayurveda can enhance your ability to be successful in both practices.
Purchase Yoga Nidra Self Healing by clicking here.
Dr. Marc Halpern is the author of Healing You Life- Lessons on the Path of Ayurveda and the CD; Yoga Nidra and Self -Healing. President of the California College of Ayurveda, he is also the co-founder of the National Council on Ayurvedic Education, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine.
Om Shanti (In Peace),
Dr. Marc Halpern