Awareness is the start
The path of yoga is trans formative. This journey begins with awareness. We have to know ourselves; what are our thoughts? What are our patterns? What are our intentions and motivations? What causes us to act? What causes us to react? If we are not aware of what we are thinking or acting, there is little chance for us to break the pattern of our thoughts and actions and do things differently.
Human beings generally operate on patterns. If we take a step back and observe our lives, it will become clear that a lot of our patterns; including eating, exercising and communicating, even thinking, arise not from any great wisdom but from the tight grip of almost compulsive patterns. The treachery of patterns is that it holds us mindless in our comfort zones, even if it takes us steadily downhill. It does not mean that all patterns are negative or that we need to live without patterns. There is a comfort and stability to patterns that lends a sense of security to our lives. The thrust here is on awareness of our patterns. We must be aware of what they are. One of the greatest aspects of the practice of yoga is that our level of awareness and sensitivity to ourselves and everything around us deepens. And it begins with the body.
In the age that we live in, screen addiction is the latest plague afflicting adults and children alike. Go anywhere, be it an airport or a restaurant, you will see 99% of the adults sitting with their heads lowered, eyes glued to a screen. And the danger with this is that it destroys relationships as we cannot see the person sitting beside us as our eyes and minds are only addicted to people on the screens. As I was having lunch one afternoon at a restaurant, there was a man and his 6 or 7 year old son having lunch together at the table next to us. To my sadness, I watched as the father sat with his eyes glued to the screen the whole time and the son sat beside him, looking glum, and ate his meal silently, no doubt feeling very small and unworthy.
So as you delve into your asana practice, as awareness of your body and mind deepens, it will naturally permeate your everyday life too and shed light on your actions, addictions and its consequences. Once awareness deepens, we can no longer take cover under the guise of oblivion and must set the intention to really be present to life and experiences by being conscious of the amount of screen time and making the effort to deliberately put the device be it a phone or an i-pad away during meal times, family time etc.
We must know that our brain is a stimulation seeking organ and dopamine levels determine the levels of stimulation. When levels drop, the natural mechanism of structures of the brain like the basal ganglia is to seek the same familiar terrains that brought us pleasure yesterday, deepening the grip of the pattern over us leading to an addictive pattern.
The asana and breathing direction is to release us from this existing prototype and to unclench us from these negative patterns.
Shailaja Menon is the author of “Yoga Shakti”, Awaken Your Own Power. She is based on Malaysia and has been teaching yoga for over 18 years now. She is also prolific speaker and writer.
Shailaja can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org