The following scenarios are my understanding of the state of mind of practitioners in the various historic ages…
Student: Today my teacher moved on from the Redveda, and recited some of the Samaveda for me to memorise. As she chanted, the meaning became obvious to me and I was able to memorise and recite the hymns easily. It was as if my teacher was using sound to paint a picture of the Redveda, and the connection between the mantras of the Redveda and the hymns of the Samaveda became instantly clear.
Teacher: Today my student began to memorise the Hymns of the Samaveda. We have previously been reciting mantras of the Redveda, and he seemed to slip into a suspended state of mind, truly understanding the songs that illustrated the mantras we have been focusing on. He is not finding it difficult to remember the chants and seems to have an unobstructed understanding of their meanings. I’m pleased with his progression, and I feel he will soon be ready to perform the songs and teach others.
Student: Today my teacher used the Kena Upanishad as my point of focus. As I practiced, I was able to draw my attention in to the truth of the verse. The meaning became clear to me as I gave it my undivided attention. As I practice, I am finding it very easy to move from a single point of focus, to suspending my mind without a point of focus.
Teacher: Today I gave my student the focus point of the Kena Upanishad. As I recited the verse to her, she was able to use it as a focus point, and grasp the truth of the Self and the separation between body functions and the energy that allows the body to function.
Student: My teacher says my self is not my Self, and my mind is not my Self. My mind seems so real, and conscious, that I’m having trouble moving beyond that. I have been given a passage to study and focus on, “The activities of the mind are always known by the pure consciousness, because that pure consciousness is superior to, support of, and master over the mind.” But I find it hard to understand because I keep thinking that if there is one kind of Self, but many Selves, then why isn’t my mind my consciousness. It certainly feels like consciousness. And then I wonder about ego, and I find myself so distracted. When I practice Asana and Pranayama, I find a calm point where focus comes more easily. But it is hard to contemplate it all when I am unbalanced; every second thought moves me away from my focus, it’s almost as if my focus is a tree trunk and my thoughts are branches growing ever outward and away from my trunk: my one point of focus.
Teacher: My student’s mind is constantly active and distracted, it is taking some effort to help her focus. I have found the Eight Limbs of Yoga helps to keep her on track as it gives her clear instructions on working towards a single pointed mind. She is developing an understanding of reality, but is finding it difficult to differentiate between ‘consciousness’ and ‘the mind’. To assist in her understanding that the mind is not the Self, we began studying the Kaivalya Sutra, Illumination of the Mind. In particular, I think she is benefiting from study of and meditation on aphorism 4.18: The activities of the mind are always known by the pure consciousness, because that pure consciousness is superior to, support of, and master over the mind.
Student: I came to class today with my mind on other things. We practiced some poses that tested my balance and required me to concentrate on my body and quieten my mind. I can feel my body becoming more relaxed in the postures, and my mind soon follows. Sometimes I keep thinking abut my day, what I should have done or what I still have left to do, and this is when I need the most alignment.
Teacher: Today my student was unusually distracted and restless. He has been like this a lot lately, as he battles mental anxiety and his infatuation with wealth and possessions. We focused on asana practice aimed at bringing calm to the mind and body. He is becoming more flexible and more aware of his alignment, and I believe this is having a positive effect on his mind. He is able to hold poses with the correct technique and breathing. I think he will soon find them comfortable enough that he is able to hold the pose and meditate for a short period of time, which I hope will ease the stress and worry on his mind.
-Journal Entry #4: A Day In The Life-