I am about to reveal to you a secret that will CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER!
Just kidding (not really), it’s actually a very simple, useful, quite intuitive technique that will not only improve your yoga practise, but also other tasks in your daily life. When I was a student of yoga, I learned a little something that not well-known, but it is the most important part of your yoga practice. It allows you to prepare your mind to leave any past impressions, experiences that you may have carried with you that may distract. It helps you compose yourself to be able to completely focus on the present activity at hand. Although it is a recommended practice before you do your Asanas, and other yogic practices, it can be done before any task.
So, sit still in any posture you like. It could be a meditative posture, or you could just be sitting normally on a chair. Bring your focus to your breath. Be aware of your breath, and let any thoughts that come, pass by, without paying any attention to them. As you do that, in your mind, leave behind any other activity, thoughts, distractions that do not contribute to what you are about to do right now. This entire process is called conditioning.
It works on two levels. It makes the mind more efficient, and prepares it for the need of the hour, where it only manifests thoughts that are required for you at the moment. Picture this: you’ve had a stressful conversation with a friend. You have an important report to write just after that. Your mind, very naturally and rightfully so, will not work at its fullest potential because it will still be carrying the stress from that conversation forward. If you take a few minutes to condition your mind before, it won’t solve your problem. But, it will make it easier for you to compartmentalize the feelings, and archive them so they do not serve as a distraction for you when you work. Your mind will become an asset that only produces the required thought process for you to effectively write that report.
The human mind has a tendency to get distracted very easily. Although we blame goldfishes for a spotty attention span, we’re not much better. Conditioning helps the mind to minimize distractions and stay focused for much longer. ‘Live in the present’ is a phrase that is always sold to us in every motivational Instagram post, but nobody tells us how. It is an abstraction, but this technique can make it a reality. It truly helps you to leave the past where it belongs, and concentrate your mind on the present.
If you’re of the curious, scientific bend of mind, you could even do an experiment. Before your next Asana session, practice the conditioning technique I described above. In the session after that, skip it, and you will note the difference yourself. The subtle, yet substantial impact it has on your daily life is undeniable.
You’ll see professional athletes or stage performers doing this thing where they close their eyes and prepare themselves before a big event. That is nothing but conditioning, and you may already be doing it in some form or another. Think about it, and maybe you’ll recognize your own process. Something that you do when you’re really nervous, or before you are about to do something big, like taking a deep breath, or giving yourself a pep talk. And the next time you do it, knowing what it actually is will help you understand that process, and by extension, your self, even better.
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