Mindbodybrew is ultimately about providing a space for written reflection at every step along the yoga path. We hope that by sharing assignments from our Teacher Trainees, we can expand their deep investigation into community-wide dialogue. The following was written by Julia Mayo in response to readings on the Shamatha method of meditation.
In Turning the Mind into an Ally, we learn that emotions are the third stage or circle in the Shamatha practice. It states that behind every emotion there is a subject, an object, and an action. This concept of acknowledging what is causing us to feel an emotion gives the mind the opportunity to truly understand why it is feeling a certain way and what it is responding too. This search for reason allows us the opportunity to let go of the emotion once we have uncovered its cause. The process is related to dismantling a house brick by brick. This dismantling actually becomes our meditation. We allow the mind to uncover the reason for our emotions in order to move closer to peaceful abiding. In Ciprian’s lecture, he states that sometimes when we dismantle an emotion, the cause can be something physical. The example he uses is the effect of too much caffeine in the body, which can cause feelings of anger and agitation. This example of turning to the body in search of reason really resonated with me. The body has an amazing ability to hold on to emotions or, in the case of yoga, associate certain emotions with certain asana.
As a yoga practitioner, I am inspired to use the Shamatha approach. When I experience a specific emotion with an asana such as frustration, instead of being negative towards myself I can apply the practice of dismantling it. What is the relationship of my body to the earth? Where am I bearing weight? What is the relationship between my limbs and trunk? How am I using my energy? In examining the posture in detail, I can give myself an opportunity to discover why I am feeling frustration. Once the action causing the emotion is revealed, I can then modify my posture to show compassion towards my body, therefore relieving the unnecessary emotion. The freeing of emotions during my physical practice can bring me closer to the peacefulness that sometimes occurs when the body is flowing through asana. The training of my mind to be able to find the root of a feeling is also a way for me to show compassion to others.