When did you last get your car serviced ?
What is the most important part of a car? You could say the engine. Without engine the car won’t run. Or the wheels – they allow the car to move. Or is it the fuel? Some would say battery-without it car wouldn’t start. Yet if a car can run but not stop – if the brakes fail and all else is perfect, what is the use?
The faster the car needs to go, stronger the brakes need to be. To be able to stop at will and respond to the moment – is what the brake enables one to do. Though every car owner is clear on the need to keep the physical brakes of the car well-tuned, not many reflect on the inner ones.
So here is the real test of how dynamic you think you are – can you sit physically still – unmoving for five minutes?
How strong are your brakes?
A shocking report of a global study by the World Health Organization published in December 2013 revealed that with the recent developments in technology, the health scenario has changed remarkably in last two decades. “Where infectious disease and childhood illnesses related to malnutrition were once the primary causes of death, now children in many parts of the world – outside of sub-Saharan Africa – are more likely to live into an unhealthy adulthood and suffer from eating too much food rather than too little.” For the first time in history, over-eating or unhealthy food habits are a bigger cause of death than starvation in the world!
The obvious analog to a brake problem is over indulgence in either emotional/intellectual obsessions or in sensory pleasures – gaming, movies, alcohol, internet, food. On the other hand, sometimes, the inner brakes are jammed so one is gripped by fear or compulsions and unable to relate, enjoy or function even though one wants to do certain things! An example of this is victims of trauma like war veterans-who have been shown to be benefited immensely by meditative practices such as Sudarshan Kriya Yoga.
Imagine the times before electricity – the human body was tuned to Nature. Late night parties were perhaps once in a year affair. While technology has empowered us, enabled us to do more-it does not necessarily bring along with it the essential inner qualities that would lead one to expansion – that development is still our own responsibility. Technology is like fire – it can be used to cook and protect or it can burn down. It does not come with a user manual for indicating the uplifting way to use it-that is more a product of culturing the mind, and takes a little attention and will. The ability to stop, discriminate and choose, rather than react, develops more as we train the mind to withdraw – to relax in itself for a few moments. This is like sports – the more one plays and practices the better one gets (progress is of course much faster if one has a good coach).
The yogi has his brakes well tuned. What is the brake in the inner context? The ability to stop at will, the ability to discriminate and to be dispassionate. The actual process of stopping, dropping all tangible activities, being still – is meditation. Maharishi Patanjali, who compiled the Yogasutras, calls this “samyama”-the trinity of dharana, dhyaan and samadhi ( Imagery/attention, contemplation and equanimity) -the various aspects of meditation.
The more one makes a habit of making time for oneself, slowing down, sitting quietly in Nature for a few minutes, the more one is able to stay alert yet relaxed. With time, as one develops the taste of this meditative awareness, introspection and contemplation, one is able to appreciate Life much more and the power, the beauty, the freedom that calls from within.
If you did not participate in the suggested experiment earlier, here is another chance to challenge yourself – can you sit physically still-unmoving for five minutes? (tricks like listening to music or watching movies don’t qualify 🙂 )
How strong are your brakes?
Personally I find that need a tune up every five six months – when I start falling short of the five minute target or if my meditation practice starts becoming restless. Excellent tune-up happens naturally at the Art of Silence programs.
A major upcoming overall tune up of not just brakes (with spa treatments, nature hikes, music) will be offered at the week-long retreat happening with spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Boone this summer! Check out meditationcenterusa.org for more details.