American Academy For Yoga in Medicine

Mind over Matter: The Yogic Journey to Mastering the Self

Mind over Matter: The Yogic Journey to Mastering the Self
In the labyrinth of human consciousness, a thread consistently weaves through the narrative of personal growth and spirituality: the theme of ‘Mind over Matter.’ This concept suggests that one can transcend the body’s physical constraints and the mind’s tumultuous emotions with enough discipline and self-awareness. This profound understanding is elegantly encapsulated in the practice of yoga.
The Yoga of the Mind: More Than Asanas
Yoga is often misconstrued as a series of postures or ‘Asanas’ designed for physical well-being. However, anyone deeply rooted in the yogic tradition knows that this is but the surface of a deep, all-encompassing philosophy. It speaks to the essence of human nature, addressing the restless, strong, and obstinate mind that Arjuna describes in the Bhagavad Gita VI.34 as more challenging to control than the wind.
As she navigates the 21-Day Better Living Course, Shraddha Sharma’s insightful account reminds us that yoga transcends physical exercise; it’s a metaphysical journey. It’s not just about bending the body but also about stretching the mind’s potential to experience the stillness of Dharana, the balanced and meditative focus that calms the inner storms.
The Taming of the Mind: A Yogic Science
The mind likened to the subtle and fragile ThermaCol balls, is vulnerable to every thought’s breeze. This analogy illuminates the sheer complexity of achieving mental discipline. The mind is an incessant chatterbox, running our lives even in sleep, much like a restless child. To discipline it, yoga suggests a multi-pronged approach.
First, through ‘Asanas,’ we discipline the body, creating a sturdy vessel for the mind. Following ‘Pranayama,’ we channel and regulate the life force and the breath, calming the mind’s fluctuations. Then, as the ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutras’ describe, we practice ‘Pratyahara,’ withdrawing from external stimuli, leading to ‘Dharana,’ the concentration of the mind, eventually culminating in ‘Dhyana,’ a state of meditation.
Reflecting on the Self: I am Not the Mind
Sharma’s journey illustrates the transformative realization that “I have a mind; I am not the mind.” This shift is pivotal for yoga practitioners. It allows them to distance themselves from their thoughts and emotions, recognizing them as mere visitors to the consciousness that they genuinely are.
The Practicality of Yogic Wisdom in Modern Life
In our over-stimulated modern existence, the principles of yoga provide a refuge. The journey to self-mastery isn’t about escaping life’s responsibilities but learning to engage with them from a place of centeredness and peace. As Sharma posits, mastering the mind, the most valuable resource through which we experience every moment of our lives, is essential for living a balanced and empowered life.
Clouded Judgment: Clearing the Mind’s Sky
The cloudy skies of the mind can obscure the sun, which is our consciousness. But as the clouds eventually clear, so can our minds with consistent practice. Through ‘Dharana,’ we clear the mental fog, allowing the light of awareness to shine. As the clouded mind clears, a sense of pure consciousness, or ‘Chitta,’ is established, bright, and unobstructed.
Conclusion: The Mind’s Infinite Potential
As we dive deeper into the essence of yoga, we begin to understand that it’s a practice not just for the mat but for life itself. Mastery over the mind ultimately leads to mastery over life’s manifold challenges. By harnessing the teachings of yoga, we can achieve the extraordinary feat of mind over matter, proving that our potential is not bound by the physical but is as limitless as the sky above.

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