“Of these two, effort toward steadiness of mind is practice.”

The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Tatra Sthitau Yatno’bhyasah

Tatra: of these | Sthitau: in steadiness | Yatnah (yatno): effort | Abhyasah: practice

“[B]ecome eternally watchful, scrutinizing every thought, every word and every action.”

-Sri Swami Satchidananda

There is a need to continuously make effort and progress toward your Yoga practice each day, and when it comes to the internal work that is required for enlightenment and self-realization, this is especially true since the mind is an incredibly easy place to get lost and/or distracted.

Even in circumstances where it is challenging to practice (which often turns out to be your best practice “ground” by the way), you must make it a point to remain focused and continue to do the work of being an unattached, neutral, observer in (and of) yourself and your life. This is the task that you must endeavor to perform in every moment in order to gain mastery over your mind and reach self-realization/enlightenment.

Life is unpredictable and inherently stressful, and at any given moment, you may find yourself facing a new scenario that catches you off guard and disturbs the natural flow of expectations that you had for yourself, your relationships, conversations, electronics, day, and so forth. You must, therefore, continuously be working to surrender your ego, at all times, for the higher cause of enlightenment in order to connect to your True Self-expression and remain aware and present as your life progresses with/within time. This is why it is a good idea to remove expectations about all things as a part of your practice to begin with.

By letting go of expectations altogether, you remain unattached to things that can create stress and tensions in your mind and body that can eventually lead to further problems over time, since clinging to expectations creates unhealthy tensions/strains within you that leads to physical and mental suffering caused by the violence of self-judgment, the judgment of a situation or others, fear, or the pain of generating unaware thoughts, words, and actions in general. Furthermore, it is not at all productive to hold on to expectations since you do not have any control over the entire flow of the cosmos, other people’s and objects’ functioning, or even some of your bodily functions or genetic dispositions. It is, therefore, much more productive to use your brainpower to withdraw your energy from stress-inducing attachments in order to use it more effectively toward higher connection and contemplation.

Humans mainly have control of the part of themselves that is aware, or capable of experiencing life and a “self,” which means that regardless of what occurs externally, or to the other systems or factors that are also at play in your life, your awareness can remain balanced and neutral at all times as you simply observe your mind, body, and external environment in order to avoid suffering and remain focused on your ultimate goal.

I, for example, almost started rushing and panicking to get this post completed and uploaded in between unpacking and decorating (and singing) after driving a U-Haul (which was towing my car to my brand new city) over 400 miles, before the words on my computer literally reminded me to “remain non-attached and neutral” regarding the fact that my 4G mobile hotspot took hours to kick into its Unlimited Data plan as I continue to await my technician’s help with connecting my official home/office network. But, as Patanjali advised, “effort toward steadiness of mind is practice,” and so I chose to let it go and get some sleep last night in order to maintain my peace. This alone is a part of my practice.

Regardless of what you need to do internally in order to maintain a state of equanimity, do it. I am not advising, however, that you use these words as an excuse to live in a state of denial of reality. Instead, please use this information to live in acceptance of what is in every moment of your day. From that place, take the necessary steps within and around yourself in order to accomplish your goal of neutral, unattached, observation and only aim to do things/perform karma (meaning thoughts, words, and actions) that maintain your peace.

Dropping your attachments to distorted thoughts and stress-inducing expectations is the quickest and easiest way to accomplish this goal since mental gymnastics and external actions can be more damaging and tiresome than simply remaining neutral and aware.

You can think and talk yourself into balance as well, but it is much more effective to simply relax and stress about less.

It is also easy to be swept away into worry or by any number of negative emotions as well at any given moment if you are not diligently and continually maintaining steadiness of mind, so being in practice at all times is required in order to avoid a number of different problems. If you remain neutral and observant regardless of your outside situation, this will further avoid performing any negative/harmful Karma towards your body and your mind in the form of stressful thoughts, or towards others in the form of destructive/damaging words and actions.

With this being said (or written), your prompt for this week is to simply stress about less.

And if you happen to get stressed for any reason, pay neutral attention to how it affects your body and what your triggers/responses are.

Is there an indicator in your body that tells you when your thoughts are out of alignment with your goal of enlightenment?

How can you be more diligent at remaining non-violent toward yourself and others after observing these things?

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