“ “Yoga is evenness of mind”: detachment from the dualities of pain and pleasure, success and failure. Therefore “yoga is skill in action“, because this kind of detachment is required if one is to act in freedom, rather than merely react to events compelled by conditioning.”*
When things are going well and we hear good news we are happy and when things aren’t going well and we hear bad news we are sad. Now you might think, well yes, we’re human and that’s a normal emotional response. But in that case, with external circumstances governing our emotions we spend most of our lives in emotional flux and in a constant state of action and reaction.
What the opening quote draws our attention to, is that in order to find inner freedom (emotional and mental) we must cultivate the skill of detaching ourselves from the emotions that arise from what we perceive to be good or bad. Instead of being reactive to events and circumstances, it encourages us to become more aware of our emotions, and with an even mind remain detached from those dualities (joy or sorrow).
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about becoming numb, or a robot, or checking out of our current reality and becoming a monk or a nun, it’s about being fully present, living in the moment and yet finding a way to navigate our way through the inevitable ebbs and flows of life, without being emotionally pulled off centre. If you do, just acknowledge the high or the low and work on re-balancing yourself.
Observe your own natural tendencies. Are you always seeking excitement and avoiding suffering? Do you self-sabotage and not embrace love and life to the full as a way to protect yourself from any painful knocks along the way? Do your emotions fluctuate in extreme? Do you let certain experiences define you and not move on from them? Is your level of happiness dependent on external conditions? Or are you someone who dwells in the negative and can’t shift into a positive emotional or mental state so easily? How we experience life depends greatly on our own personal perception, which the ego mind loves to get involved in, it will easily make up stories and theories of what it thinks to be true. Don’t believe everything your ego mind tells you.
This skill of remaining even minded needs daily practise, as it’s not easy, and life will constantly deliver us contrast. It is our responsibility, to make conscious decisions of how we are going to process what we are going through and how to respond to it. If we gradually begin to observe events and happenings just as they are without creating a story around them, trying not to become too attached to the outcome or the feelings that arise in us, then over time that wakefulness and balance will help us deal with the variety of life we are presented with.
Yoga, meditation and mindfulness are great playgrounds to help assist you on this journey towards evenness of mind. These practises help slow down your thoughts, creating more space around them, giving you more time to process and really feel what you are experiencing/hearing/seeing, and therefore your response will be less reactive and more conscious. The more you cultivate evenness of mind in class or during your personal practice the more you will be able to infuse it into your day to day living, and benefit from its grounding, peaceful and positive effects.
Love & Peace,
*Opening quote: (The Bhagavad Gita, Introduced & Translated by Eknath Easwaran, p.85)