By Ellen Arthur.
Do you experience yourself being confused, conflicted, unsure or doubtful? Perhaps not all day every day, but often enough that it causes disruptions in your life? I was under the impression that once I started practicing yoga these distracted, dull thoughts of mine would disappear. Right?!
When we are in this state of dullness or confusion and we attempt to make decisions from that place, our own mind loses faith in its conviction and begins to turn on itself. Loss of faith in one’s own mind leaves us feeling mistrustful and defeated, and as a consequence we begin to lose faith in the world around us. This unfolds as thinking “the world is against me”, not wanting to socialise, fear of decision making, questioning why everything bad happens to us and forgetting our truest nature, which is one of sublime peace, ease, power and purpose.
What the yoga tradition says about doubt is that it can single-handedly derail our pursuit of spiritual illumination. Doubt, confusion and uncertainty are some of our biggest hurdles on the path of self-discovery. These qualities arise out of a clouded, unstable mind. A mind that is easily distracted and pulled in whatever direction the senses, manas (reactive mind), the ahamkara (i-maker or ego) and citta (storehouse of memories) decide.
How do we pull ourselves out of this predicament?
It is essential to learn how to still the fluctuations of the mind, to settle into a single-pointed focus so that clarity and clear vision (viveka) arise. Only once the mind is still, are we able to see its potential, and that is, to be used as an instrument for liberation (moska), connection back to source and remembering ones highest purpose (mahad).
Take the meditation Still lake of the mind, it gives us the clarity and the vision to peer into the still and tranquil nature of the mind. Once we taste that depth of mental ease and stillness, we begin to crave it (in a very positive way – creating positive samskaras). The more we access and rest in that space of stillness and silence, the more our mind merges with that state making it less likely that we dwell and ruminate in our fear and doubt.
Abhyasa and Vairagya
Our practices act as a spotlight, a device we can use to illuminate parts of the mind that have for many years been steeped in darkness, habit and fear. Through consistent and intelligent practice (abhyasa) and a great amount of surrender/non-attachment (vairagya) we are able to see the tendencies of confusion, doubt and fear, see them for what they are, outdated mental constructs that cripple our momentum forward in life. Through compassion, practice and a desire to evolve we are able to liberate said constructs and turn that dormant energy into something positive.
Ultimately where our practices have the ability to take us is into a space where even during hardship and challenge, doubt and fear, we can remember and access a still and stable mind. From that stability our mind becomes quiet, introspective, observant and peaceful.
We notice that our minds are in-fact pure consciousness itself, perfectly constructed instruments to guide us back home, back to source.