Less than two weeks in.
My resolutions already meet resistance.
“The mind can be best friend or the greatest enemy.” (Bhagavad-Gita 6.6, paraphrased)
So how to make it the best friend?
“There is one easy weapon with which the mind can be conquered – neglect.” (SB 5.11.17 purport)
It doesn’t sound very nice, does it?
Cruel, or even criminal.
But rejection of one thing means acceptance of another.
My “new years resolutions” were 1) to drink more water and 2) to do yoga practise, yoga study and meditation every morning before I do anything else.
Guess which one I’m struggling with?
The thing is, it’s not a struggle to wake up and really be with myself for a few hours.
It’s not, it’s actually a joy. It’s very natural too.
Who actually wants to stare at a screen, with eyes still bleary, reacting to rubbish on Facebook or whatever emails have come in by spammers or insomniacs during the night?
Or, my other default at least, eat. At ridiculous o’clock?
Again, no it’s not quite natural or normal.
So why is it this morning routine a challenge?
Well there’s a lot of psychology behind it, eternal and conditional, but let’s just say: the selfish mind likes to accept something one minute, and reject it the next.
It likes variety, it likes to flit, it likes lack of focus.
My Self, ME, knows that routine, discipline and concentration are all necessary to success, satisfaction and depth.
Ignoring the “monkey mind”, or whatever else we want to call those little thoughts or whims that spring out of nowhere and tell us to do things against our better judgement or previous resolve.
And on the other side of the coin, is acceptance of higher aspirations and goals.
Albeit, this morning, I’m one of the bleary-eyed, sitting here typing this. Another distraction.
But it’s a valuable process of creating a higher, deeper, whichever-way-is-up New-Year-Plus-Two-Weeks Resolution.
The novelty has worn off: the pride and glow of achievement and, perhaps, even some spiritual encouragement from above to remind me of the potency of morning practise.
I know I need to continue, which means I need to ignore the thoughts that taunt me and tempt me as my alarm goes off or as I start to sit down and begin. “No you should do x important thing”, “C’mon, it’s too early, you’ll be knackered later”, “You’re hungry, you’ll have more energy if you eat some chocolate”.
And that’s fine, I thank the people who helped me develop the willpower, I know I have it now after many years of practise.
Thing is, negation of something can get us quite far, but it can also make the heart quite hard.
We also need a positive, an acceptance of something or someone higher, to keep the heart soft and loving.
So rather than a “big girl boots on”, “stiff upper-lip” charge onwards, I’m trying the “observe and offer” approach.
Be fully present with my mind’s obstinacy and pleas for selfish gratification.
Watch those thoughts with total neutrality – “Ah, interesting, the chocolate one is coming up again”.
No judgement, no story. (E.g. “God I’m such a pig, I always said I would never end up like this and I have, what a loser” etc etc)
Just, ok, here is that old record. It has come up and now it’s going just as quickly as it came. No biggie. Carry on.
Whatever’s swirling around, I will continue my practise and all the extra effort and energy I’m exerting just to continue, I will offer to someone I want to show love for.
For me, this will be my spiritual teacher.
If you’ve read this far and feel inspired to contemplate or try, choose whoever your heart can connect to and dedicate, demonstrate, deepen that relationship.
Do your best simply for them, and by default you’ll also benefit the same, in not more, than before.
Not that you expect it, you just do it for love’s sake.
That is bhakti yoga.