Bernard Bouanchaud’s translation: Persevering practice is the effort to attain and maintain the state of mental peace.
Patanjali tells us here that practice IS the effort to maintain inner peace. I’ve often wondered how I could maintain anything when I am twirling off into anger, or joy, or sadness, or confusion, or any of the other myriad emotions that flit through my being from one moment to the next. Then I re-read this sutra. There is nothing here about annihilating emotions. The practice is the work of maintaining equilibrium of the Self.
I’ve been working a lot with my emotions lately, wondering how do they fit into an awakened life? When am I processing an emotion and when is an emotion taking over? How do the stories I spin in my mind, in reaction to events in my life (shenpa), stir up emotions and feed them? How much leeway can I or do I afford any given emotion on any given day? For years, I’ve sat with the meditation:
I am not my thoughts.
I am not my emotions.
I am not my body.
Though I sat and repeated these phrases, I knew that on many levels I really DID identify myself as any or all of these aspects of my Self and I had no clue HOW one could do otherwise. Really, I know that my body continually changes, ages, and grows tired, but isn’t that big hulking tired person my Self? It’s hard enough to IMAGINE my self with a different body, much less to de-identify with having a body at all!
Thank you meditation.
Thank you savasana.
Thank you restorative yoga.
When I do these practices, I am often able to disengage from identity, whether intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual (yes, I get caught identifying myself in those trips too!). I can breathe into the larger Self, the connection of us all. It is a spacious place. It is a place of joy. Compassion. Expansion. Beauty. Rest. Stillness. Energy. Awareness. It is nowhere. And everywhere.I am no one. And every one.
In this TED video (yes,I’m becoming a TED junkie Eve Ensler speaks eloquently about the importance of maintaining an emotional life. And true to form, I was crying halfway through. Thank you Eve, for reminding us of our wholeness in this age of fracture.