Last week we focused on all the various methods the Yoga Sutras offer us to quiet the mind, but the last one on the list is definitely worth mentioning. After listing all the different things you can concentrate your mind upon in order to make it stable, Sutra 1.39 says,
“...OR CONCENTRATE ON ANYTHING AT ALL THAT YOU LIKE!” (emphasis mine.)
In essence, try all these different techniques, and if none of those work, fine, okay, concentrate on any old thing that pleases you and the mind will chill out. I love this because it reminds me that it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it.
The techniques and formal practices are so useful, don’t get me wrong here, but if they’re not working, feel free to quiet the mind in some other way. When I’m drawing, or sewing, or chopping vegetables, or working in the dirt, or even washing dishes, often my mind goes quiet, in the same way that my mind goes quiet when I’m in Savasana at the end of a yoga class. Psychologists sometimes call this being in a “flow state,” where you are completely immersed in what you are doing.
Just like in a formal meditation practice, the state brought on by these mind-quieting activities can also make clear to us who we really are. And that’s the point, at least according to Patanjali, of all this effort anyway, to “abide in your own true nature” (Sutra 1.3).
Have you experienced that kind of “flow state”? What quiets your mind outside of formal meditation practices? And are you able to see yourself more clearly afterwards? How does that change the way you walk through the world?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.