On some days, during certain moments, you know exactly where you are going. You are just where you want to be, or well on your way to that place. The ride is smooth, the horizon is clear and --sailing takes you away to where you've always heard it could be! (Sorry if you are too young to remember Christopher Cross).
In other moments, you are in your vehicle (your body), cruising along to a destination of your choosing and WHAM! Something or someone collides with you and the vehicle halts, or sputters, or veers off course. In those moments you need to keep a good head about you for quick repairs, readjusting course and resuming your route! If you want to reach your destination--other than an exploding vehicle--your worst case scenario is a carjacking. You get knocked out of the driver's seat and somebody else steers you in an entirely different direction.
Can you relate to being carjacked? I can. Just last night after an enjoyable weekend spent with family and friends in beautiful weather, I felt immensely content. I said to my husband, "I am so relaxed right now. I don't feel the need to do anything in particular." I just felt at peace; that was all; simply peaceful. I imagined staying that course until the next morning. Then I checked my Iphone apps, like e-mail and Facebook. All it took was a couple of messages from the outside world to collide with my contentment and steer me in another direction. Before I knew it, I had been carjacked. I was off, thinking about other things, creating new stories in my mind and experiencing emotions related to disruptions in the world, gossip and unruly chatter.
It took me an hour or so, but eventually I threw out the carjackers. I lit a candle, completed a few rounds of mindful breathing and opened up the Yoga Sutras. Honest, I did! Sometimes I really do walk the talk.
The Yoga Sutras are a good road map to a peaceful, steady mind. There are other road maps! Lots of others. Only you know how to choose the maps you're going to keep in your vehicle. Only you can set your own GPS. Personally, I like the concise sutras; they lay out direct routes to guide me to a steady mind and bring me home to my true Self.
Based on translations from Sri Swami Satchidananda and Liz Schulman of sutras 29-39 in Book One, I am going to run through some quick directions for you (kind of like those times when you're driving aimlessly around a neighborhood looking for an address). The address is: a steady mind. You were carjacked by a gang of miscreants. They drove you around in circles and stole your GPS. You stopped and kicked them out, but now you're lost. You saw me jogging alongside the road and pulled over to ask for help.
You: "I'm trying to get to a steady mind. I was carjacked and got rid of the carjackers but now I'm lost. You look like you live around here. Do you know where a steady mind is?"
Me: "Yeah, I drive past there all the time! I've even been inside a few times. Good job kicking out the bad guys. That took some awareness and resolve. We have a neighborhood watch around here but we still get a lot of car jacks. Anyway, the way I know to get to a steady mind is to practice yoga, meditate and focus on your breathing."
You: "OK, I saw those road signs earlier but don't know how to get back there. Can you be more specific?"
Me: "Sure. If you want to find a steady mind, you'll get there. Even if you have been before, it's easy to forget because there are so many distractions on the way and the roads get blocked by obstacles. There are lots of characters wandering around here who will try to stop your car and divert your attention, but here's a quick way to deal with them: 1. Be friendly if they seem happy! 2. Have compassion if they appear unhappy, 3. If they're doing something good, show support, and finally, 4. Just ignore anybody acting badly. They'll suck you in if you jump in the middle of it."
You: "Right, so you covered what to do when other people are running around the roads, but I still don't know which roads to choose."
Me: "OK, you may want to write this down. There are several you can take and they all lead there: Focus on your breath, OR, tune into subtle sensations in your body, OR, go within yourself and connect to the Divine, OR, think about a person who truly inspires you, OR, recall a really good dream you had, OR, if you don't want to go any of those ways, just stop and think of whatever it is that uplifts you and drive towards that. Keep going. If you veer off course, just get back on course and be more focused each time, and you will get there."
You: "You said you'd been there before. How did you go?"
Me: "The last time I was hijacked I focused on the breath. I made pretty good time getting to a steady mind after that."
The idea here is this: We have so many distractions and disruptions in our lives. Some are unavoidable. We all want to get to a steady mind. We can help each other out in our communities. Let's band together to stop the carjackers. We are all driving each other home, to peace, to bliss, to our true nature. For yoga practitioners, mindful breath and movement is a direct route to a steady mind. If you don't believe me, try it for yourself. Tune into your breath and let it even out before you move. Then, hone your attention in on your breath as you practice each posture and transition today. Let your teacher give directions and follow according to your internal navigation. Then help others find their way whenever you can. I hope to meet you there when we all arrive.