concentration

Yoga is about how the Will can free us ...

“True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness. Yoga is about how the Will can free us from the wavering mind and outwardly directed senses. This is how asana serves us.”

~ B.K.S. Iyengar

The misconception that yoga is about exercising the body

There was a time when I had the misconception that yoga is only about exercising the body. Then one day my wise teacher (who studied directly under Iyengar) told me, “If you aren’t paying attention to your actions, all you’re doing is stretching.”

Mad Al Hrabosky

“To be perfectly honest with you, I really feel that I have average physical ability, but when I get my psych and my self-hypnosis going, I can compete with anybody in anything.”

~ Al Hrabosky

Back in the day it was fun to watch “Mad” Al Hrabosky pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. He would psyche himself up behind the mound and appear to get very angry, and indeed, he ended up in at least one brawl. Here’s a TWIB Note video of him pitching and talking, and here’s him talking years later about what he was doing behind the mound.

What I know about deep meditation states

The following is a (long) discussion of some things you might run into during deep meditation.

Fake Absolute Silence

These days in meditation I spend a lot of time in a place I call “Fake Absolute Silence.” In this state you might be fooled into thinking that you’re in the real state of Absolute Silence, but that’s part of the problem — you’re still thinking. Things are definitely quiet in this state; there aren’t many thoughts, and your concentration is focused on your breathing without distraction. However, I find that I’m still very aware of my body and outside noises. But despite that, it’s generally a mentally quiet place.

Each movement must be an art ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

“Always stretch from the source, the core, the foundation of each asana. Keep your attention internal, not worrying about what others see, but what the Self sees. Each movement must be an art, an art in which the Self is the only spectator.”

B.K.S. Iyengar, Light on Life: The Yoga Journey (with a few minor edits by me)

Long, uninterrupted, alert practice is ...

“Long, uninterrupted, alert practice is the firm foundation for restraining the fluctuations of the consciousness.”

~ Patanjali (via Iyengar)

“Absolute stillness and silence, as if one had landed on the Moon”

“On one occasion of my own practice, nearing deep samadhi, I happened to notice that the stage of my mind was quietly turning and a new scene was appearing. In this new scene no wandering thought popped up its head; there was absolute stillness and silence, as if one had landed on the Moon.”

~ Zen Training

When we choose to perform an activity, we make it a gift

“When we choose to perform an activity, we make it a gift by dedicating our entire body-mind to it, by making it the only task we do in that moment. In that way, all activities are included in one, and all activities are unified. This is how our activity fills the universe, and how we express complete understanding in our work.”

(I don’t remember the source of this quote, but it sounds like something Shunryu Suzuki would say.)

On wasting your time meditating

Meditation: If you’re not putting 100% of your being into it, you’re wasting your time.

~ a note to self