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Practical Patanjali

A Modern day Exploration of the Yoga Sutras

As we completed the first introduction session of our Yoga Sutras Study Group on Sunday September 25th, I was beyond excited and blown away by all the wonderful participants who managed to carve time out of their Sunday evening and responded so enthusiastically to our offer to meet weekly with like-minded people and dive into the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali together!

As I drove home, I made it a point to observe my mind…

Gone was the state of mental fatigue from being awakened in the middle of the night to take care of some issue with the computer systems I am responsible for at work… I was totally uplifted by the joy of seeing many familiar faces as well as several new ones I am already grateful for and looking forward to knowing better… and then a flash view of my to-do list when I get home; some laundry to put away, messages and emails to return, a few possible leftovers I may dig into as I sensed a subtle feeling of hunger building… back to the session… Did I cover everything? When can I plan some time to become more familiar with the video conference software? …I also need to learn the new software at the studio (remember to ask for remote access if possible) … How can we make the remote participants feel more included?… Do I have a meeting at 8 or 9 tomorrow morning? …I wonder if the birds enjoyed the hard-boiled egg I gave them before leaving the house? …How stupid that I forgot my microphone!! Was I speaking too fast, rambling, or nervously laughing too much as I tend to do when I am enthusiastic about something? …I need to send the links to the documents on Google doc … I might take Vanessa up on the offer to create the Facebook group for us… I also need to upload that horrible first recording (laughs); Thank goodness for Jennifer who had the presence of mind to text me a quick “are you recording?” as I was already a couple minutes into our opening practice!

Wow… check it out: home already!

The mind! What a marvelous, fascinating, and sometimes extremely annoying aspect of the human experience! And how wonderful to have Patanjali as our guide, through his Yoga Sutras, as we explore, better understand, and manage this captivating part of our being!

According to his instructions, the key to freedom, to the ultimate state of yoga; is to gain mastery over the fluctuations of our mind… As I went through the observations I narrated above, I felt much gratitude for my practice and how it has improved my ability to, at least, notice and observe the turbulence from a more neutral perspective and be present enough to not get sucked into its vortex too much… far from full mastery, but when you look at it as a spectrum, it’s always encouraging to realize you are headed in the right direction!

And the quest for mastery cannot even begin without first becoming aware of that which we wish to master… How often do we let our mind take us on wild rides? Ruminating on the latest argument we had with a co-worker or loved one… Obsessing over something we should or should not have done… Focusing feverishly on some past event or fantasizing wildly about a future one… Losing our temper in a discussion with those who disagree with us…

Patanjali invites us to explore the mind, to observe it and gain a better understanding of its functions…. I look forward to dive into these topics with the wonderful group we just formed and will happily report on some of our discussions in next month’s installment of this column!

Anne-Marie Serre, RYT-500

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