July 04, 2020

Sutra 1.30: Focus on the Sky

Samadhi Pada: Yoga of Being in the Now

    1.30 Vyadhi styana samsaya pramada alasya avirati bhranti-darsana alabdha-bhumikatva anavasthitatva chitta vikshepa te antarayah
    • vyadhi = illness / sickness / disease
    • styana = mental laziness / procrastination
    • samsaya = doubt / indecisiveness / hesitation
    • pramada = carelessness / indifference
    • alasya = idleness / sloth
    • avirati = desire / craving / over-indulgence
    • bharati-darsana = delusions / false assumptions / confusion
    • alabdha-bhumikatva = lack of determination / inability to be grounded
    • anavasthitatva = inconsistency / inability to maintain a steady level of practice
    • chitta = mind
    • vikshepa = distractions
    • te = these are
    • antarayah = obstacles / impediments

"Upeksha ~ equanimity
Emotions are our weather and the sky is our equanimity. To practice equanimity we must cultivate mindfulness, and awareness of when we are becoming the weather, so that we are less jerked around by transitory thoughts. Use this word when you feel yourself being pulled into a riptide of thoughts that are not serving you."

This was the reading and theme used in a yoga class I went to last week, and it seems to fit perfectly with the sutra we'll be focusing on this week. Remember that the goal of yoga (from sutra 1.2) is "the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind." So putting the previous quote together with our yoga studies, we can equate that yoga (and our natural, authentic way of being) is the sky and everything else (the emotions, distracting thoughts, etc.) are the weather. The sky is always there being exactly as it is despite being overshadowed and overtaken sometimes by different weather patterns. So it is with us. Who we really are is always there despite being overshadowed and overtaken by different distractions and obstacles that take us away from this truth. Sutra 1.30 tells us exactly what these distractions and obstacles (i.e. weather patterns) are. 

According to sutra 1.30 there are nine distractions that create obstacles on our path of yoga and prevent us from not only celebrating our amazing, authentic selves, but also take us away from the power of the present moment. These distractions include:

  • physical illness
  • mental laziness
  • doubt or indecision
  • carelessness or indifference
  • idleness
  • desire or over indulgence
  • delusions or confusion from false assumptions
  • inability to be grounded or have determination
  • inconsistency and the inability to maintain a steady practice   

So far in our journey of the sutras, Patanjali has given us the definition of yoga, given us various techniques and ways to practice and will continue to give us more, but seems to take this pause to warn us that though the system of yoga is simple, it's not always easy. Just as we can predict that not every day will be a clear, blue sky day, we can expect that not every yoga practice and not every moment in our life will be smooth sailing. I like to think it's his way of telling us that things will occasionally get rough, we'll have bad days where we are frustrated, beat down and may want to give up on the path, but these are only passing distractions and we simply need to keep our focus on the sky.

Your challenge for this week friends is to stay focused on the sky. Notice when you are taken out of your practice or when you are pulled away from the present moment and maybe even identify and label which distraction is your current obstacle. As always, don't judge or analyze . . . simply observe. Know that these obstacles can sometimes end up being transformational jumping off points to discovering our powers. But . . . that's for another sutra :)    

Sutra 1.30 Distractions that are obstacles on the path (to samadhi) are illness, mental laziness, 
doubt, carelessness, idleness, desire, delusions, lack of determination and inconsistency.

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