Garbage Out, Less Garbage In

I hope you’ll forgive me a moment of nostalgia, but I’ve had a very old Bjork song floating around in my head for the last week, and it won’t rest until I give it due attention.

The song in question, or the fragment of it that keeps coming to my lips, goes “there’s mo-o-ore to life than this”. It’s been sitting quietly in my musical subconscious for close to 15 years, and for reasons that may be related to the magical camping trip I’ve just returned from, that little piece of potted wisdom has returned to the front of my mind.

There’s more to life than this. It’s a cliché that contains a profound truth, one that we all quietly acknowledge to ourselves when we’re slogging through meaningless paperwork or vacuuming the living room. The day to day ephemera of life seems to demand ever more of our attention. We find ourselves struggling to remember that we’re humans, apparently made in god’s image, and surely designed for something more vital than filing tax receipts and holding down chairs in an office block.

The purpose of yoga is to re-establish ourselves in our own true nature. This suggests that we were once aware of, and centred in, a place of knowing ourselves better than we currently do.

Something has occurred for us to lose sight of who we are. But Yoga, ever the practical science, gives us techniques that we can implement in every part of our lives to help us rediscover ourselves.

Yoga tells us that if we want to make any discernible difference to our state of being we need to do two things: firstly, to cleanse out all the polluting substances that have accumulated in our body and mind; and having done so, to stop putting more junk in on top.

And so it contains practices aimed at achieving both, and both are as important as each other if we are to progress in the goal of making our minds more peaceful and our lives any happier and realising the truth of who we really are. For example, asanas help cleanse the body’s toxins, while yoga’s ethical recommendations, such as non-violence and truthfulness, serve to keep our present thoughts, words and actions pure.

What this means is that we need to think carefully about what we do outside the yoga class if we really hope to slow the wayward movements of the mind. Attending classes, practising some asana and pranayama will certainly help to focus the mind by purifying the body. But if we promptly reimmerse ourselves into the world of junk food, TV headlines, scandals, gossip and constant conversation, the work begun in class swiftly begins to unravel.

To make sure we maintain positive momentum we need to learn to live yoga: to slowly reflect and review, so that not only are we making a commitment in class to de-garbage the mind, but to carry that commitment throughout our entire day. When we have understood this and begun to carry yoga in everything we do then we will begin to see progress in leaps and bounds.

Three more articles to help you keep that “pure mind” feeling going all day:

1. Keep silent and watch your thoughts a few minutes each day

2. Practice contentment – appreciate what life has already given you

3. Learn the art of non-attachment

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