My Inner and Outer Critic

via Daily Prompt: Criticize

How do I criticize myself?  Let me count the ways.  Self criticism is so internal that no one necessarily knows I’m doing it but me.  The thousands of thoughts that run through my head on a daily basis are rarely positive.  I’m fat, frumpy, not good enough a failure, etc. Why are we so hard on ourselves?

Like any problem realization and acceptance are a start to stopping the inner critic in my mind. Like most problems I face my  yoga and meditation practice helps me to begin to control my inner thoughts. Yoga helps me still the constant replay of mostly negative thoughts.  In fact the goal of yoga is to still the modifications (thoughts) of the mind.

There is a flip side to self-criticism, I am not unknown to criticize others.  Often when I think or say something negative about another it is not to their face.  So I realize I can and should be kinder to myself and others.

The word itself criticize has a negative connotation, but constructive criticism is helpful, necessary and often provides an opportunity for growth.  So much of whether criticism is helpful or harmful is in the delivery.  So before I speak to myself, to others and especially about others I am going to pause, think and maybe rephrase to positive, constructive statements! How lucky I am to have found Svaroopa(R) Yoga to help me along the way.

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Modifications of the Mind

One of the most famous text on yoga is Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. In the text Patanjali explains what yoga is.  In  Sutra 1.2 he says:

“Yogas citta-vrtti-nirodhah”

I.K. Taimni translates this as:

“Yoga is the inhibition of the modifications of the mind” 1

Your first question might be what are modifications of the mind?  We just don’t speak like that today.  Modifications of the mind is the chatter that at least for me is constantly going on subtly in the background of my mind.  Citta-vrtti is the sanskrit for these modifications and it always strikes me as the word itself almost sounds like chatter.

The modifications and chatter in your mind takes me back to 8 track tapes.  In the 70’s you could buy an album on an 8 track tape to play in your car.  In what now looking back was a rather large player that attached to your car radio.  We didn’t have car stereos back then and certainly couldn’t carry a whole collection of music on one little tiny I-pod. I guess I’m really showing my age.

This sutra reminds me of 8 tracks because in most peoples minds there is usually several streams of thought (tracks) going on at any one moment.  Fewer streams since I started yoga but always more than one.  Stop for a moment, close your eyes and notice the thoughts in your mind.  How many different tracks do you have?

Everyone has constant thoughts going through their head.  Yoga helps you stop the modifications of the mind, stop the chatter, stop the chitta-vrtti’s.  This is why yoga helps you calm and quiet the mind.  This for me is why yoga is so helpful in easing stress and anxiety.  If the thoughts going through your head are of constant worry and fear what will that do to your body?  To your mind?  Yoga’s tools of poses, breathing practices and meditation can be used to help you calm the chatter.

Practicing yoga helped me go from 8 tracks of thoughts to one or two at a time.  So don’t let the chatter exhaust you, don’t let your thoughts turn you into a hamster on a wheel constantly replaying things over and over in your head.  Take a yoga or meditation class and start to still the modifications in your mind.  See how much better you feel!

  1. The Science of Yoga I.K.Taimni p.6

More Signs of Spring

I was looking at my blog site and noticed that last April I had written a blog called signs of spring, with a photo of my daffodils poking up from the ground.  The date was April 7, 2015 it was a long hard winter in Boston last year.  Flash forward to today February 25, 2016 and those same daffodils are already poking up from the ground!  What a difference a year makes.

This winter has seen temperatures fluctuate from -9 to 56 degrees in the space of 3 days.  The weather man mentioned that we have had an equivalent amount of precipitation but rain this year instead of snow.  Letting out a sigh of relief, I look forward to more and more frequent warm days like today.

Sitting in my sunny dining room and writing this blog I feel an overwhelming sense of contentment and bliss.  The sun is warm on my face, NPR is on in the background and I am writing a blog post all things I enjoy.

Yoga says as you immerse yourself in your yoga practice you will open deeper and deeper into consciousness. As you become more and more immersed in your yogic state the structure of your mind changes it becomes more porous things don’t stick to you the way they used to.  You are not as dependent on external situations to create your happiness. You don’t need to prop up your state of being with externally pleasurable events.

The weather man says that tonight the temperature will drop, tomorrow is back to cold, cold winter. My  mind is more porous then it was a year ago, that forecast doesn’t stick to me, doesn’t bring me down, doesn’t change my state. Today I am enjoying the present moment, the warmth and sunshine, I am content and blissful.Tomorrow hopefully I will stay in my yogic state, in that present moment content and blissful.