July 19, 2020

Sutra 1.32: One Thing

Samadhi Pada: Yoga of Being in the Now

    1.32 Tat pratisedha artham eka tattva abhyasah
    • tat = those / that
    • pratisedha = reduce / counteract / diminish
    • artham = in order to / for the purpose of
    • eka = single / one
    • tattva = focus / subject / truth / principle 
    • abhyasah = practice

The concept that Patanjali introduces in the sutra for this week may sound familiar. It should as he has repeated it a few times. He talked about it in sutra 1.17 where I associated his process of moving towards samadhi as being in flow. He talked about it in sutra 1.28 where he introduced japa meditation and having your full focus on AUM. He talks about it here in sutra 1.32 in which he is telling us that we need to have a single pointed focus. I'm not saying this is a bad thing! In fact an old Latin proverb says "repetition is the mother of all learning." I love learning, yet it often takes me awhile to integrate new concepts, so Patanjali, I appreciate this repetition! 

Here in sutra 1.32, Patanjali repeats the idea that having and maintaining your awareness on one thing is one of the keys to the path of yoga. Remember the distractions and symptoms from the last couple of sutras? Patanjali advocates if you keep your awareness on one thing, those distractions and symptoms will fade away. He has already given us at least one concrete strategy to work with in order to focus on this (meditating on the sound/symbol/concept of AUM) and he'll give us some more in the upcoming sutras. So before we get to these, let's reflect on where our focus is.

In my experience, it's slightly easier to find and maintain one pointed focus in a led asana class. Don't know what to focus on? The teacher encourages you to put full focus on the breath? Does your mind start to wander? Teachers will often remind you to come back to the breath. You are told what to do safely, where to go, and for how long to hold it. This doesn't mean the mind doesn't wander and you won't lose concentration, but there is always someone there calling you back to a specific focus. So, this week, let's pay attention to our ability to focus in other ways. When you are practicing asana on your own, how do you maintain one pointed focus? If you don't practice on your own, try it one time. In "real" life off the mat (because I can't say too many times that yoga is soooooooo much more than asana) is there something that you are constantly focusing on or where your mind often goes? Maybe you'll discover that your "one thing" isn't necessarily positive (I'll admit mine often isn't!). If that's the case why not try practicing the technique Patanjali has already given us . . . . focus on AUM. Will it work for you? No better way to know than to try it out.

So, your challenge for the week in a nutshell - observe, reflect, focus and repeat . . . . and that, friends, is the practice of yoga! 

Sutra 1.32 In order to reduce those (distractions and symptoms), 
the practice of a single focus is the best way.

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