After a long and difficult week it felt so good to roll out my mat this morning. As the class began I realized that I have spend most of the last week holding my breath. My body felt tense, my mind scattered. But then, the funniest thing happened. While I was lying on my stomach in cobra pose I noticed the carpet. That's right, while SD is talking about feeling the support of mother earth, I'm thinking about the carpet. What I noticed was that up close, it's hard to see the pattern in the carpet. Only when you stand up and look at it from some distance can you see the pattern.
It's the same thing with life in general. When you're in the middle of a difficult situation you can't really see the whole picture, you can't see the pattern in the carpet. It's only when there's a little distance that you can see things more clearly.
One of the first steps in learning meditation is watching your breath. It's a practice in stepping back from your mind and watching yourself think and breath from the perspective of the witness. This witness consciousness helps us to see not only how we're breathing but after some diligent practice also other patterns of our minds.
One pattern that I've discovered while "watching my mind" is this repetitive recording that is always pointing out my faults. Reminding me of all the things that I'm not doing good enough in my life. All the ways that I'm not making people happy. This pattern, I believe is the source of my depression. It follows me even to the yoga mat.
When I'm up close to it, it's difficult to see things clearly. However, when I step back into that state of witness consciousness I can see that this is a pattern. I see that most times, this recording is not accurate. These thoughts are just fabrications of my mind. They aren't reality and the problem is that I'm too up close to these thoughts to see that.
During a recent visit with one of my teachers the conversation turned to this idea that your final thoughts at the time of your death will determine how you will spend your next life. Keeping that in mind, I have to wonder what the next life has in store for me if what I'm always thinking are thoughts of how I'm not good enough. Scary, isn't it?
So how do I stop this recording? Any suggestions? Here's my thoughts. (feel free to share your thoughts via a comment post) Since it's the nature of the mind to think and my mind inevitable goes into this same pattern of thinking, I need to give my mind something else to think about. This is where the mantra comes in.
Over the last few years I have learned many beautiful mantras. Some are short, some are more complicated. Since this pattern has been ingrained in my mind for so many years I think it's best to choose a longer, more complicated mantra. I say that because my clever mind has learned how to think crazy, random thoughts and repeat a short mantra at the same time! When I notice this recording playing in my mind, I begin to repeat the mantra. Whenever a thought enters my mind, I go to the mantra. My hope is that with constant re-training of my thought patterns, with the use of a mantra, I may find some peace of mind. I may see that the pattern in the carpet has changed.
Here's a beautiful mantra and it's translation.
Om sahana vavatu
saha viryam karavahai
tejas vinav adhitamastu ma vidvishavahai
Om shanti, shanti, shantih
Om, may we come to know universal oneness. May the Divine move through us. Together, give us energy and courage to gain clarity of mind. Through practice, let our hate turn to love so that we may live peacefully together. Om peace.
The other thing I noticed while I was up close and personal with the carpet is that my yoga mat stinks - literally. It's time to put this mat in the wash!!