Duhkha Daurmanasyangamejayatva Svasa Prasvasa Viksepa Sahabhuvah [Sutra 31]
Duhkha: distress | Daurmanasya: despair | Angam: the body | Ejayatva: trembling of | Svasa: disturbed inhalation | Prasvasa: disturbed exhalation | Viksepa: distraction, confusion | Saha: accompany | Bhuvah: arising, existing
Tat Pratisedharthamekatattvabhyasah [Sutra 32]
Tat: their | Pratisedha: prevention | Artham: for the sake of | Eka: one, single | Tattva: subject, true principle, reality | Abhyasah: practice
Although my perspective on Sutras 31 and 32 differs from Sri Swami Sachidananda’s in some ways (as it often does since we are both unique individual expressions of the Source with different perspectives and experiences even as we are focused on the same goal/path–and I can inevitably understand completely that his views are valid), I feel that there is one point upon which we most certainly align and resonate, and this is in his view that “[t]here’s no value in digging shallow wells in a hundred places. [You must] decide on one place and dig deep.”
Single-pointed focus on the goal of Yoga practice is key to success on one’s journey. This is true for most things in life, but is especially true for the goal of Self-Realization where the single point is the focus and goal itself.
Although there are multiple routes to the same destination (as many as there are individuals who exist on planet Earth), and every Yogi’s journey is different from another’s (because, as mentioned above, everyone is unique, and each person’s experiences/perspectives/knowing is, therefore, different), there is no question that the same Source from which all emerged, provides the knowledge and perceptive that helps each Yogi travel back to it as their origin and final end point.
This is why a basic requirement to achieve success in Yoga, according to Patanjali, no matter who you are, where you are coming from, and what your journey looks like, involves a strong foundational understanding of OM/AUM and a focus on connecting with it as the goal of your practice.
Simply put, focus cuts through the noise and distractions on your journey, and makes it so that every action, activity, word, feeling, view, and so forth, everything that you do, say, and are, is intentionally surrendered to the one single and most important aim and Truth in your practice, making it more likely to connect with this Truth and to understand/embody it in your lifetime. Focus unifies your body, mind, and spirit toward one point through concentration, making it so that you are less likely to become attached to useless pursuits, things, ideas, desires, and causes, and thus reducing your suffering as you put all of your attention on one single point.
If you have ever been absorbed in concentration and focus on a single activity, you will remember that during those moments of immersion, all else fades out of existence. In deep concentration and focus, you may spend hours upon end engaging in/with something before you remember, or realize, that you have not eaten, but, yet, you do not suffer the discomfort of hunger, or even feel the pain of your limbs falling asleep. With single-pointed focus, your body becomes regulated, your mind becomes clear, and the object/subject of your attention fills your entire being and existence for the time that you are focused on it (if your focus in not on your suffering, lack of safety, or mortality that it).
Whether it is art, music, writing, dancing, praying, watching TV, your problems, the problems of the world, the object/subject of your affection, something that you ate, or anything else, your concentration and focus plays a powerful role in either taking you closer to peace and wholeness or dragging you further away from it.
In Yoga, the same concept applies, and even goes a step further, since all of your work to intentionally focus on anything outside of the truth of your Pure Self, the still point at the top of OM/AUM, is only practice for (or distraction from) concentration on this one, unchanging, ever-present, Truth of the Self and the Source.
“Accompaniments to the mental distractions [which] include distress, despair, trembling of the body and disturbed breathing” are only side effects of an unfocused, troubled, and unregulated, body, mind, and spirit [almost akin to the side-effects of trauma]. These discomforts result from disturbances that arise when one is not fully present on the Yogic path as discussed in Sutra 30. The accompaniments, or side effects of distraction, on one’s path (distractions that can turn into obstacles to Samadhi) simply indicate that one is not wholly and completely focused on the Reality, power, and existence of the Source and the True Self that is unafflicted by the disturbances and corruptions of the world for one reason or another, which ultimately creates suffering.
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