Typically, when we think of yoga we tend to think of our physical body. We imagine downward facing dog or child’s pose, an arrangement of the body in some form. We think of the breath as we use it in conjunction with each pose. Let’s look at yoga through a different lens as we explore the mind stuff…The Chitta vritti, also known as the fluctuations of the mind.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, verse two, Patanjali explains that the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga. The fluctuations that Patanjali is talking about are right knowledge, misconception, verbal delusion, sleep, and memory.
Perceptions are created by our external experiences as well as our internal experiences. When we are born into this world, we know little about what it is to be a human. We are born without a story and a new beginning open to a world of experiences. We use our eyes to see, our ears to hear, our mouths to taste, our nose to smell, and our skin to touch. We begin to form our likes and dislikes through the senses and this is where our story begins. We remember little about our lives while we are babies and infants. We begin learning from the world around us, and this is where our perceptions begin. As we grow, we begin to create our perceived truths through our senses. Favorite colors, favorite music, favorite foods, favorite smells, and comforting touch. These experiences create attachments, and we begin to create an identity to these things we enjoy. We also create the opposite stories. Stories about what colors are least pleasing, what sounds alarm us, what foods we don’t prefer, which smells are bad, and what pain feels like. These experiences create aversions within our mind.
Perceptions are not universal truth, if they were truth everyone would see things the same way. Perceptions can create a veil of our lived experience through the actions of others we are connected to in the earliest stages of our lives. Our environments in which we live, and experiences in which we have had. When we experience trauma in our lived experience this veil can be overcome with other’s perceptions of ourselves as well. Many of these perceptions were also created through their own personal traumas. We find it more difficult to trust our truths and regulate our nervous systems in order to create more balance and clarity. Other’s perceptions create added layers of barriers which keep us from seeing our authenticity and truth.
We become attached to people, places, religion, traditions, culture, and belief systems. Creating a sense of who we are. We become an extension of our environments through our senses and experiences. Our minds begin to attach to these experiences and give us an identity in which we either feel safe or unsafe. These stories continue to unconsciously or consciously create patterns in our lives. We begin to believe that these stories are truly who we are. Our minds become attached to these beliefs. When we become attached to these perceptions they can manifest from within as shame, unworthiness, lacking or flawed, and/or disconnection from ourselves. Other’s perceptions and experiences can create resistance in our healing when they are not in alignment with ours. Truth is that most others will not be in alignment because they are not experiencing the same as us.
Let’s work through a particular belief to experience the five fluctuations and how they can be used to find more truth from within. Recently, I began doing mirror work. I sat down with my journal and began the first day. This is what I have observed in just the first sitting.
Sleep: I was asleep to the fact that I rarely look at myself from a different view. From an unconscious level, every day I get ready in front of a mirror. It has become an automatic and robotic experience in my everyday life. With little or no actual awareness of who is looking back at me in the mirror every day.
Memory: Once I looked into the mirror to do the work…Wow. Who was this stranger that I am looking at in the mirror? Wow…that’s me. Hello there! Wow this is weird. I do this every day, but I forgot how to really be with the person in the mirror. On a different level. This is not going to be as easy as I thought.
Verbal Delusion: The story of unworthiness and shame began to play as I stared at my reflection and repeated the words “I really want to love you” into the mirror. I found a story of disconnection to my true self. It felt strange to be in the present moment, with myself and say words of love to the reflection I was staring at.
Perception: This opened up my eyes to a perception that I have been holding onto for a long time. It is the inability to look at myself in the mirror with true connection. Why did I feel so disconnected? Throughout that day an awareness arose from within. I had been taught that it was conceited to appreciate yourself, let alone look in a mirror and say “I LOVE YOU”. Who does that to themselves? Other’s perceptions flooded my mind. I had taken on a belief that I was not worthy and it was shameful to love yourself. From a collective point of view, it’s not really taught to us that we should connect to ourselves on this level. I felt a little conceited for even staring at myself in the mirror. From a personal point of view, others that I have been raised by were unable to connect to themselves on this level. So why would it be ok for me to connect to myself on this level. It felt weird, but it also created a new energy from within. A new perception and ultimately new truth. I began to awaken to the story and the misperceptions that have been created on an unconscious level.
Truth: My view began to shift. What is the truth? I am worthy to receive the love.
I have to admit this is some powerful work that I have embarked upon. I still struggle to sit down and be with that woman who is in the mirror. What would my life had been like if I was taught from an early age…Love yourself? What if we taught every child who came into this world how to love themselves in this way? To look in that mirror every day and show themselves love? What if others gave us the permission to say loving and compassionate words to that beautiful soul looking back at them? Let’s be real here though, we are not taught this on so many levels. As we grow, we begin to take on the perceptions of others, our minds create stories that are meant to protect us from any more pain and suffering, ultimately creating a veil to the truth. The truth is everyone of us is worthy of love and compassion.
NAMASTE Beautiful Souls!