The Practice

Yogic spirituality is just a quiet mind.

Very yogic moments can occur on long-distance runs, while staring into the eyes of a newborn, then that same child as a toddler, and a teen. Yogic moments wend into life while sitting on a beach and listening to the waves, awaiting news at a hospital bedside, while guiding a racing mind to make mental checklists of what is going right, simply because so much is going wrong.

Patanjali said, “When harassed by doubt, cultivate the opposite.”

Yogic spirituality is that moment, when you are nowhere else: just there and aware of it. It’s when you are not even actively accepting your moment — it’s simpler than that. You’re just living it, fully.

Yoga is just a quiet mind: but a quiet mind is an amazing thing.

Every moment has its value, its bliss, its misery, or its simplicity. Yoga just prepares you to be there, so that you won’t miss it; and so you can be there, be steady, and support both yourself and your people.

That practice of moving with the breath, standing still in a trying physical pose and focusing on just that: it tends to spill over into all of life, because the brain is like that. If you train it to do something, the brain imprints and the body wants to repeat it. When that something is yoga, you stop fretting so much. It makes you more patient with your kids. It can have side effects such as “listening to your spouse” and “not complaining about the dishes.”

One of Patanjali’s sutras is “yogas citta vritti nirodhah,” a Sanskrit phrase that means “Yoga is stilling the fluctuations of one’s consciousness.”

A quiet mind is powerful. It sees details. It takes the right chances. It does not miss the most important elements of this time and place. It makes room for what is happening all around you, by clearing out the worries of the past and plans for the future.

Do yoga. Mentally, at least. Physically, if it suits you.