I’ve blogged about this sutra before, but it’s such a gem that I want to come back to it – especially because Deepavali starts today (actually the most important night I am told is Saturday (see yesterday’s blog)).
Vishoka va jyotishmati (Yoga Sutra 1.36)
It means, “Stabilize the mind by focusing on that which is peaceful and light.” Some people translate it as: “Stabilize the mind, and then focus on that which is light” or “Get rid of unhappiness and, at the same time, see that your mind is light.”
For me the instruction from Patanjali to focus on the light is not much different from the simple instruction that my mother used to give me when I was a child. Be positive. One of my students, who teaches about brain health and aging, has a license plate that says: ATI2D – it’s all about attitude she told me. Everything.
But how do you get a good attitude? That’s an age-old question. Aren’t some people born pessimists and others born optimists? How do we change our attitude if we happen to fall in the former category?
For starters there’s meditation – just clearing time in your day – especially first thing in the morning, to assess and maybe reset your attitude, can work wonders. And don’t get me wrong – this isn’t about being “happy and nice” all the time – human beings have a wide spectrum of emotions that are there for a reason – to be experienced. They are essential for our growth.
But when the mind is destabilized by these emotions – then we are called to find balance. And that’s where the light comes in. And the great thing about yoga is that the ancient sages fully understood that each person finds peaceful light in their own way. Yoga is a spiritual tradition – not a religion. It is often associated with devotional Shaivism or Vaeshnavism, but that’s just because it was cultivated in India. Whatever spiritual or religious tradition speaks to you personally, can provide you with the light and the peace.
So try this when you are feeling the need to stabilize your mind. Stop, go some place where you can be alone, still and quiet. Watch your breath for a minute or two and then spend some time with that entity, deity or energy that fills you with peace and light. Relate to that being. Notice it and talk to it. Take 5 minutes to do this. Finish by placing your hands together at your heart in the offering of salutations to that being. And then notice how your mind is.
BTW, yoga is a practice. Which means the more you do it, the better it works.