Our thoughts have power and our minds are like windows through which we see and interpret the world. Cleaning these windows until they are clear is what we aim to do in yoga. We do this so that we can see things as they really are and alleviate the roots of our suffering.
Too often our mind makes us suffer by entertaining thoughts of past regrets and future worries. How often does your thinking make you unhappy simply because your thoughts can’t seem to remain in the present moment where everything is more often good and well? The roots of suffering lie within our inability to stay totally and completely attentive to the present moment.
(You can change this with these 6 Techniques to Staying Present.)
We want the mind to remain clear, calm and still as possible — like the way it is when gazing out at a beautiful sunset, watching it fade under the horizon. The moment of peace most all of us experience when we’re deeply connected to nature is how we want our minds to be so we can remain open, present and, ultimately, free of suffering.
Everything we experience in life is from the perspective of the mind. Our mind has the power to make us happy or to make us suffer. When it's filled with chaotic, negative thoughts, we suffer. We have to understand that it’s our mind working in tandem with the present moment that dictates reality.
When we quiet our thinking and allow the mind to act as a witness to life, without judgment about what’s happening, the roots of our suffering release their hold. In it's place, peace, love and compassion take hold. The quiet mind is a fearless mind.
The more we embody and are grateful for all that is happening in the now, the less we suffer. The less we get hooked into the illusion of our thoughts, the less we suffer. Becoming the great non-judging witness of all that is abolishes suffering in an instant.
(More on why we should be evermore grateful in Give Thanks, Get Gratitude: 3 Reasons We're Thankful for This Mindfulness Practice.)
There is joy in simply being. By watching our world without judgment, fear melts away and all that remains is love. But the windows of our mind need to be squeaky clean in order for this to happen. When our minds aren’t in a state of ease, we experience dis-ease. If we can still our minds to experience deep peace and if we can experience our lives from an easeful state of present-moment awareness, we can live from a state where no fears or worries about the past or future exist.
Relaxing into a natural state of simply being — devoid of plans, assumptions, judgments and expectations — allows you to be who you truly are: an unconditionally loving and aware being. When you are so deeply in the moment, fear and anxiety subside and the roots of suffering disappear.
Through meditation, we can all work to cultivate a clear, calm mind and a warm and open heart. We can all experience what it’s like to watch life without labels or judgments. We can experience peace in every moment. We can establish ourselves in a state of serenity and simplicity that many spend their entire lives crossing continents to find.
Every day, practice watching your breath as you inhale the word, “Let.” Continue watching your breath as you exhale the word, “go.” Let go. We can let go of everything, thereby experiencing all the attachments and roots of our suffering dissolve. Focusing on the breath as you repeat these words soundlessly to yourself stills the mind so that it has no place to run around like a mad man.
As you follow this path in the cultivation of a quiet mind and calm heart, know you will be challenged. But stay the path and the roots of your suffering will lessen their hold on you, and happiness will be your reality.
(Continue reading for The Yogic Lifestyle's Mind-Body Health and Happiness Explained.)