By Dr. Rita Khanna
Adopting the Yogic attitude aims at evolution of the mind. It teaches us how we can develop a strong, stable, and calm mind under difficult circumstances. How can we face life, so as to live a full and happy existence? How can we make the most of our time here on the planet? These questions have been around for a long time; and as a result, philosophies, such as Yoga, have arisen.
Yoga was developed by the great sages, and seers, of the past, as a gift to humankind – to help us manage our lives better, and to grow into a higher awareness of the purpose of our existence. Yoga teaches us that we can take our lives into our own hands. Using its techniques and methods, we guide ourselves into greater inner strength, so as to face life with a greater capacity to respond to the problems that arise with creativity, spontaneity, and skill. Yoga training teaches us to develop core strength and tremendous, dynamic inner peace; a strong inner core, like a flexible steel rod in our spines, and a responsive outer layer that is appropriate to the moment.
What is the Yogic Attitude
The Yogic attitude makes us learn to face both the pleasurable, and the un-pleasurable events, with the same detachment. In fact, by this attitude, we can utilize painful events to develop greater inner strength. For example, if you find that you are getting into a stressful situation, you do not panic. You use this opportunity to make your body healthy and strong, and also develop a healthy attitude of mind.
With Yogic attitude, you will find that with the change in your perspective, you work more efficiently in whatever you do, your decision making is better, and the prospects of all-round growth, begin to look brighter in your working life. Then, you can make stress either a problem or a challenge. If you look at stress as a problem, the solution may necessarily have to come from outside. If you face stress as a challenge, then you are able to handle it through Yoga training, and your changed perspective on life.
In short the Yogic attitude is “I am responsible for the situation I am in. So I can handle it” -and so can you!
How to Achieve this Yogic Attitude
Here are a few points that will help you to achieve the Yogic attitude:
The most important of all is to be awake, in every situation, by watching the mind. Watch how your mind reacts in a particular situation. How do you get your ideas, concepts, experiences, conditioning, attitudes, etc? Ask yourself, “Why do I think like this?” Examine each of your attitudes, ideas, and concepts. Throw out what is old, useless, negative, or unhealthy.
Through the practice of Antar Mouna and Meditation, you can change your attitude, emotions, and mental concepts – at any time. You can learn to smile at circumstances; you can learn to see every stressful situation as a challenge or an opportunity to learn, give, serve, and love. Meditation allows you to realize your own true beautiful nature. For example, if your plane or train is late, what would be your reaction or response to it? Many different reactions are possible. As soon as you realize you have a choice, you can stop for a moment, witness, and choose the way you would really like to react. This leads to mental control.
What, and How, to Eat
You are what you eat. How you eat, can be just as important as what you eat. Therefore, the right foods, taken in the right amounts, are essential for good health and spiritual Sadhana. Just how much one should eat is clearly laid down in several texts: “The Yogi should fill two parts of the stomach with food and the third part with water, leaving the fourth part free for air to aid digestion.”
Hatha Yoga Pradipika 1:58
You shouldn’t be fussy about food. It doesn’t matter if you eat vegetarian or non-vegetarian food. However, eat less (never overeat), eat when hungry, eat at the right time, eat the correct combinations, and most important of all, eat with a relaxed mind. Do not eat when angry; poisons are secreted by the glands, and thrown into the blood stream, when you eat whilst angry.
Take food as medicine; give up gluttony. Be regular in taking meals and don’t eat or drink between meals. Don’t overcook your food or discard the cooking water. Keep the food simple, light, and pure. Less sugar and less fat are better. Observe silence while eating; sit in Vajrasana for ten minutes after eating, and take a half an hour rest after meals. Remember God, and pray to him before, and after, taking food.
The Path to Good Health
Health means wholeness. The word, health, is derived from the old English root which means ‘whole’. Health also means well-being, feeling good, energetic, and responsive to the world around us. Health implies strength and the ability to cope with all the problems of modern stress. Thus, when we are healthy, we feel on top of the world; living becomes a joy and a means of creatively fulfilling the time spent on the planet Earth.
The path to good health is not a long one. All you need is just 20 to 30 minutes, twice a day. Through Asana, Pranayama, and Yogic relaxation techniques, you will be able to generate more energy, conserve more energy, and would be in a position to redirect more energy. The five keys to good health are (a) Be active; (b) Eat less; (c) Sleep well; (d) Keep a relaxed mind; (e) Enjoy yourself. Yoga helps to promote activity, digestion, sleep, rest, relaxation, makes life enjoyable lo yourself, and through you, to the others in the family.
More Awareness Means More Happiness
Awareness gives you the key to life, and enables you to live in joy and happiness. Awareness is the ability to witness. As awareness expands, you become more and more aware of the consciousness or the self or truth. Consciousness also implies truth, perfection, love, and pure intelligence.
In Yoga, awareness does not mean knowing something – for example, when you are feeling angry or depressed. In Yogic awareness, it means that we know that we are angry or depressed. It is impartial witnessing, which is able to separate the object of our awareness, and observe it from a certain distance, rather than identifying with our passing thoughts or feelings.
Yoga transforms us, subtly, through greater awareness of our day-to-day activities – adding a new dimension to even mundane things, like eating, talking, fighting, listening, sleeping, working, walking, pain, and pleasure – everything! With greater awareness developing within us, we are able to know ourselves better, understand others better, understand life, to see situations as they really are, to solve problems, to become intelligent in every sense of the word, to see our mindset, our fixed pattern of habitual responses and neurotic behavior, to recognize and eliminate disharmony, conflicts, negativity, and knots in our mind………….and to evolve into real humans.
Four Tools of Awareness
We have four tools of awareness – (i) Manas, the thinking and counter thinking process, (ii) Buddhi, decisions, discrimination, discernment, (iii) Chitta, awareness, remembering, feeling, (iv) Ahamkara, the ego or id. Buddhi (intellect or higher mind) is the highest faculty of our mind in association with conscience and Viveka (discrimination). Even the most intelligent of us operate with ordinary intelligence, without using Buddhi. Thus, an immense, infinite intelligence remains untapped – just because we are too stressed to be able to switch on our Buddhi!
When there is no Buddhi to lead, the lower faculties of the mind create chaos, imbalance, and mismanagement. When Buddhi is awakened, it brings order and harmony into the lower faculties; Manas (emotions/feelings); Chitta (thoughts/logic); and Ahamkara (ego principle). It should become our aim to re-assert the dominance of Buddhi. Buddhi exists for the one who has found the state of equilibrium, free from highs and lows, and from distress. In traditional ‘encounters,’ observation is equated to experience, and experience remains objective. With the awakening of Buddhi, every encounter becomes a subjective experience, resulting in a greater understanding and broader view point.
Methods of Developing Awareness
• According to Kundalini Yoga, the vehicle of supreme awareness is a central nerve in the body, which has connections with different psychic centres, beginning at the base of the spinal cord, and ascending to the centre of the brain. This nerve is known as Sushumna. It is the channel which carries this supreme awareness. However, the awakening of Sushumna, and certain physical centres and glands, responsible for the manifestation of Supramental faculties, is a difficult matter which needs careful guidance, discipline, and a regulated lifestyle.
• Another method is to become aware of certain factors by a continual process of Self-observation. In this process, there is also a corresponding process of separation. The material aspect of the personality is slowly detached in our consciousness. There comes a time when we become absolutely aware and we remain aware, neither of the physical body nor of the impressions of the mind, but of the Supreme or pure awareness. It takes time.
What Happens in the Development of Awareness
The dormant potentialities express themselves. You do not have to run after them, as many have been doing. Even if you are not aware of the fact that these great powers or abilities are part of your being, you will develop them. The path or method should be correct. We develop a theme, or work out a program, point-by-point; stage-by-stage. A lot of preparation must be made.
We must remember one thing: the awareness is within us; it is complete in itself. All we have to do is to give it an opportunity to manifest. If there are obstacles or hindrances, we have to remove them. The awareness that is in us, in all its fullness, has to manifest through our life, our body, our actions – in such a manner that we are able to behold it. The supreme awareness is the secret of the great potential within us.
The Yogic attitude talks of the journey from gross to most subtle. Basically, attitudinal Yoga is being positive in whatever situation we find ourselves in life. So, this process of self-observation, or self-understanding, leads to the experience of optimum health and well-being. With the development of awareness, we start to de-identify from our mental or emotional state and become non-attached. You can slowly re-adjust your lifestyle. The time, that you will be devoting to the practice of Yoga, does not mean that you will be snatching good time away from your life. On the contrary, you will be adding hours of blissful health and enjoyment to your life every day.
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Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna’s Yogashaastra Studio.
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Dr. Rita Khanna
Dr. Rita Khanna is a well-known name in the field of Yoga and Naturopathy. She was initiated into this discipline over 25 years ago by world famous Swami Adyatmananda of Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh (India).
She believes firmly that Yoga is a scientific process, which helps us to lead a healthy and disease-free life. She is also actively involved in practicing alternative medicines like Naturopathy. Over the years, she has been successfully practicing these therapies and providing succour to several chronic and terminally ill patients through Yoga, Diet and Naturopathy. She is also imparting Yoga Teachers Training.
At present, Dr. Rita Khanna is running a Yoga Studio in Secunderabad (Hyderabad, India).