A few comments and conversations this week have pulled me back to the Yoga Sutras, and in particular to Sutra 1.9 where the mind state of vikalpa (translated as fantasy / imagination) is discussed. This is one of the fluctuating mind states that can obscure clear thinking and a clear mind.
Creative imagination can serve a useful purpose: we can often connect these thoughts to our life and gain insight. But I think this sutra refers more to speculation, when our mind runs away with itself and we imagine unhelpful things that do not have a basis in reality or we have exaggerated and distorted the connection to reality. This hinders our understanding of ourselves and others.
Here are a couple of related articles. http://yoginiinreallife.com/2015/03/17/yoga-sutra-sessions-from-fantasy-to-reality-the-power-of-seeing-the-truth/ and https://yogainternational.com/article/view/yoga-sutra-1-8-1-9-translation-and-commentary
The first article describes well how our subjective thought process can lead us to believe that we have let ourselves and others down. Yet when we unpick the thought process, as in the article example, there is so much assumption and negative judgement that simply does not need to be there. Once we make ourselves aware of this and challenge our own thinking, then we have the power to transform it. Observe, challenge, change: it is possible, moment by moment, if we invite it in.
We start this week’s classes reflecting on the area of focus students chose for themselves last week. Did they bring any inner judgements about this area, any unhelpful inner dialogue? How were they challenged and what changes did they make? This week students are again encouraged to play within a pose- make small adjustments, notice what feels different, keep what is helpful, and get rid of what isn’t. Observe, challenge, change, moment by moment.
Ruth is a yoga therapist and yoga teacher based in Cheltenham, UK. She emphasises yoga as a tool for well-being, for individuals and in her classes, in person or via zoom.